If you’re in the world of tech, chances are you’ve probably heard of Ron Zuckerman. Chairman of LA-based information technology company RayV Inc and Co-Founder of the insurance software giant Sapiens International Corp, Zuckerman has amassed serious success and fortune over the past 40 years in business. Splitting his time between Tel Aviv and the rest of the world - namely California and Turkey - today, the Israeli-born IT entrepreneur is one of the most prominent tech investors around. Photo: PozitifStudioAfter chartering yachts for almost two decades and taking the plunge into a new build superyacht project in 2016, Zuckerman’s interest in other industries was piqued. Now it’s not just tech that Ron Zuckerman astutely invests in, but also the superyacht business. More accurately, his superyacht business: Global Impact Yachting. Photo: PozitifStudioAll About U
It all started with a yacht. Featuring naval architecture by Ginton Naval Architects, after locating the perfect partner to build his dream yacht, Zuckerman commissioned the 50-metre motor-sailer All About U at the Turkish shipyard ADA Yacht Works. Inviting experts of Dutch-engineering to the table and pouring years of sailing and superyacht charter experience into every aspect of the build, Zuckerman quickly realised that this was something he enjoyed. “The first boat was more of a private boat,” he says. “I enjoyed everything about the project - the building, visiting the shipyard, doing the walk around…”. Photo: Turk YachtLike so many superyacht owners before him, Zuckerman had gotten a taste for boat building. While most will opt for the more traditional route of enjoying the fruits of their labour for a year or two before selling and starting the construction process all over again, Zuckerman was truly bitten by the bug to build.
Upon delivery of All About U in 2018, construction immediately commenced on the 50-metre sistership to his inaugural superyacht. “The hobby was already starting to resemble a new company. It’s my business to invest in companies, so we invested in a new one: Global Impact Yachting. We immediately started construction on the sistership, All About U 2, and we brought the first yacht to the Monaco Yacht Show 2018. We sold her right there at the show.”Photo: Turk YachtNot your average hobby
Obviously, building superyachts is not any kind of ordinary hobby. As a long list of closed shipyards is a testament to, building yachts is not for the faint-hearted. But within just two years of turning his hand to building superyachts, Zuckerman is already tasting the sweetness of success. Photo: PozitifStudioAll About U 2 was delivered in summer 2019 and is currently listed for sale. Global Impact Yachting also has a 50-metre Benetti scheduled for completion in June 2020 and sold even before launch, and another 60-metre sailing yacht at ADA Yacht Works. “Maybe we got lucky,” muses Zuckerman, “but things are really going well. The first owner that bought All About U was someone I knew for many years. I hadn’t been in touch with him, but he heard that I had built a boat, so he gave us a call. The second boat we sold, I was introduced to the buyer when people started to know us.” Photo: PozitifStudioThe hobby has, indeed, transformed into something else entirely. The flourishing business partnered up with Fraser earlier this year, which has strengthened selling power, evolving from just one well-connected network to a professional database of potential clients. The long term goal? Two new yachts launched per year, with Zuckerman and his team working with a variety of clients to realise their custom superyacht dreams. Perhaps offering something clients can seldom get elsewhere: first-hand owner perspective and almost limitless financial backing. Photo: PozitifStudio“This is completely separate. It is my hobby,” Zuckerman continues. “Sometimes they tell me at the shipyard that I put too much pressure on it, but I tell them, in high-tech, we have to deliver on time. These guys work 20 hours a day, with pizza being delivered to them and they sleep in the office to get it done. I bring this culture to the yachting culture. Most yacht projects that are delayed it is also related to finances. This is not a problem for us.”Photo: PozitifStudioHere SYT sits down with Zuckerman to hear more about how a successful businessman’s boat-building hobby has evolved into a new superyacht production company on a mission.
What was your experience with yachting before you started building?
I’ve been sailing for the past 20 years - a few weeks every summer since we had our first child. We usually chartered yachts in August, starting with Turkish gulets and eventually moving up to larger sailing yachts and motor yachts. By spending so much private time on boats, I’ve learned what’s good and what’s not when it comes to all aspects of living on a yacht and actually using it. I finally decided to pour this knowledge into a build of my own in 2016. Photo: ADA YachtYou went with ADA Yacht Works for your first superyacht build. What lead you to Turkey?
I knew I would only build if I found a good partner in a great shipyard. There are so many shipyards offering a lot of different options, and it’s essential to find the right one for you. We looked in Turkey and found ADA Yacht Works. Once we’d found them, it was instantaneous - we immediately started to build. We moved fast, and we knew what we wanted. Photo: ADA YachtFor example, All About U has a mast of 65 metres. For that, you need a keel which is five to six metres, which restricts how you can use the boat. You will struggle to find accommodating marinas, and you can’t go into the Caribbean at all. So we already had a solution - we brought in a couple of top naval engineers from the Netherlands, Ginton Naval Architects, and they designed a keel which is 3.5 metres. We are also developing the engineering for our new 60-metre with Dykstra. Photo: Turk YachtWith All About U 2 delivered and listed for sale, Global Impact Yachting has more projects in the pipeline. What can you tell us?
We completed All About U 2 this summer, and now we are finishing the design and doing the first welding for a new 60-metre sailboat at ADA Yacht Works. The 50-metre Benetti under construction in Italy is already sold and is on track for a June 2020 delivery. The eventual goal of Global Impact Yachting is to launch two yachts a year. Right now, we’re in discussion for a yacht concept featuring our special design input. They buy it on paper, and we build it for them. Photo: PozitifStudioWill you also act as a broker?
No, Global Impact Yachting is a production company. We develop custom superyacht projects with clients from the beginning of their yacht construction project. We work with Fraser for the brokerage side - they are doing a great job. When we first started, we used a lot of our own network. Fraser brings a lot of new clients to the door. In Monaco this year we had five serious buyers visit the yacht on the first day alone. Photo: PozitifStudioPhoto: PozitifStudioIn terms of bringing new clients to the business, how do your yachts attract a new audience?
Yachting is a business where there are ten times more sellers than buyers. To be successful, you have to have a special product, a special approach and special branding. With All About U and All About U 2, superyacht sailing is a very niche part of the market. At the same time, the younger generation is more connected to green issues, and sailing yachts appeal to that. What makes All About U stand out is that she is a hybrid: you walk around the decks, and it feels like a motor yacht. It’s the best of both worlds. We picked the right spot, and there is a good customer base for that kind of boat.
Photo: ADA YachtDo you think we will see more owners from Silicon Valley in the future?
Absolutely. More young people and people from different backgrounds will be introduced to yachting soon. Whenever we have an exit in our area in California, I usually know the entrepreneur. They go home with 20 million dollars, two billion dollars, whatever, and the next thing we do is speak to them. They want to relax a little. Yachting is also a family thing, and more people realise that. I think the fact that my kids spend a few weeks every year on the seas is fantastic. They love the yachting lifestyle - all of their friends will join them on board. They are 18 years old, and they have fun together and have a great time. That’s what it’s about. Photo: PozitifStudio
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