Bo Turner demands residuals
Maybe kind of a rough way to put it, but after months of no-way-never-gonna-happen rumors, yes way it did happen, Burton bought DNA Distribution. You can read the freshly scrubbed version of how it went down on Burton’s corporate news page, which is updated way more often than you’d expect. Or maybe not, since Burton’s been doing deals with Apple and buying other snowboard companies and making skate shoe power moves.
The big question is why. Alien Workshop and Habitat aren’t exactly Shorty’s. They got big-name pros and the boards sell. Sales may be down, but if companies like Blind and that one Christian company that advertises in the back of Thrasher can keep limping along in 2008, you’d think DNA could find a way to make it work. Carter and Hill started in 1990, they know about lean times. Fuck, they could save a pile of dough by kicking off Berra and Selego, who between them have maybe filmed three minutes’ worth of footage in the last five years, which is probably more time than anyone’s spent looking at their photos.
Seventeen years is a long time, though. The Alien guys weren’t fresh-faced young kids when they started the company, except for Dyrdek. They’re in the wondrous world of their 40s now and have probably thought more than once about how long they can keep this shit up. For all its artsy imagery and seagull footage, DNA is basically a hardgoods company, boards and wheels with the requisite t-shirts and New Eras to match. They don’t have shoe company money to fall back on and they never pushed a clothing line, which is probably to their credit. Living and dying off board sales ain’t as easy as it used to be, especially with blank boards running around putting noble factory workers out of jobs and butchering people’s mothers.
Probably not a lot is going to change, at first anyway. Carter and Castrucci are going to keep running Alien and Habitat, the operation’s going to stay in Ohio, and all those dudes on Quiksilver already bounced for Analog a few months ago. Despite the hand-wringing going on right now, it’s pretty doubtful that Burton’s going to insert everyone’s favorite high-flying ginger Frankenstein into the mix (although if rumors are true, Heath Kirchart might get to explain to his new bosses why he allegedly ended his tenure on Analog by choking out a sales rep [ALLEGEDLY]). Maybe the Burton deal will end up being like a venture capital infusion–instead of Castrucci doing team management, art, ad buying, taxes and running out for burritos at lunchtime, he can concentrate on the important things like the art and the burritos. Or something.
Down the road, though, Carter & co. may lose interest, or find their interests coming into conflict with the power structure at Burton, who may or may not be the same people who engineered the deal with DNA in 2008. That’s when Alien/Habitat will change, and probably for the worse. How bizarrely amazing would it be for Carter to hand over Alien to Dill when he hits retirement age? Not gonna happen, if such a thing were ever likely in the first place, which is doubtful. But now, instead of DNA closing up shop when the founders leave the building, it’ll carry on, if there’s still money to be made. Who knows. Burton could kill the whole thing in two years if they really want. Or the entire earth could explode tomorrow. This is the type of thing that keeps Jim Gray up at night.