REI is diving deeper into the content world.
The nation’s largest outdoor retailer has acquired the Adventure Projects, a network of crowd-sourced websites providing free climbing, hiking, skiing and running trail information and user forums.
The Boulder-Colo.-based business, founded by Nick Wilder and Andy Laakmann in 2005, is best known for its climbing site, MountainProject.com with guides to more than 128,000 climbing routes across the world. It has since expanded with MTBProject.com, HikingProject.com and TrailRunProject.com.
"The information and advice that Adventure Projects provides to the outdoor community is impressive and unmatched," said Megan Behrbaum, communications manager for REI. "It's a living digital guidebook for anyone who loves to explore outdoors off the beaten path. We believe that REI can support the Adventure Projects team in Boulder to do more of what they already do brilliantly, and hopefully reach even more of the outdoor community."
Wilder announced the news on his Facebook page saying: “No more business overhead to deal with, just lots more fun building products for the sports we love. Our dream jobs are better than ever.”
The acquisition will greatly increase REI’s content efforts, and notably raise its presence in the crowdsourcing realm. REI advertising was running on the MountainProject.com site as of Thursday.
Up to now, REI has hosted a limited trail finder program on the “Family Adventure” portion of its website, and it has partnered with organizations, such as the Outdoor Recreation Information Center in Colorado to provide local trail information at its physical stores.
Providing free outdoor content, especially in exchange for an e-mail sign-up, continues to be a big trend in the outdoor industry with more than a dozen popular trail-finding apps. It’s a way for brands and retailers keep up the conversation with their customers, while benefiting from the pageviews and SEO exposure.
While REI now owns Adventure Projects, Behrbaum said the business will operate "largely independently, apart from some back-end services that will speed up their work."