Happy Birthday to Us!
With VV turning eight today, we sat down with our CEO and Founder, Richard Rivlin, to hear his thoughts on how VV has evolved since our launch on the 13th May 2011.
Q1. How did it all start?
“I have always been interested in harnessing the power of technology to help the broker work more efficiently. Together with Quentin Soanes, we designed what was likely to be the first automated ship details and commitment system for Clarksons Sale and Purchase department back in the late 1970s. We were both budding trainees at the time and were met with quite some resistance from the die hard experienced brokers. It worked and gradually the whole department moved away from the old card system. Subsequently with Braemar in the early 1980s, we spent ages together redesigning other providers’ software to meet our more exacting requirements. Then broking duties rather took over, but the hankering to get something really big going in the conservative shipping market never left me. Without knowing it, the seeds for VesselsValue were sown.
The opportunity didn’t really present itself until the crash of 2008. Everyone stopped valuing. The fall in values was momentous, but I thought surely this is the time when people really need to know the value. I had already been thinking about designing an automated system that could deal with daily, abrupt changes in a sensible and clear manner. I could wait no longer, and I took the plunge. We launched Tanker and Bulker values in May 2011. Our first 12 month subscription sale came in September the same year. At the start, we were faced with pushback from those who were used to traditional methods, but this time I was better prepared with a proven methodology that could measure in real time the accuracy of our values. We won over the banks, then the owners, then the professionals. We were up and running.”
Q2. How has VV evolved over the past eight years?
“Since we first launched, we have been constantly developing and launching more and more ship types and products. The goal is if it floats, or indeed doesn’t but is connected with the sea, we will value it. Recently we launched Trade and Position List and we will soon launch Superyachts and Pipe Layers, showing the diversity of products and asset types we are engaging with. All this takes extensive resources, time and a loyal, hardworking and motivated workforce. We have grown from six employees to 160 today and operate out of eight offices globally with over 2,000 users worldwide. But there is still so much more to come.”
Q3. What are your highlights over the past eight years?
“Over the past eight years I have seen VV grow to become one of the leading valuers for the shipping and offshore industries in the world. Highlights have included being invited to share our shipping expertise by speaking at over 100 leading industry events globally and being regularly quoted in the world’s shipping and financial press. Perhaps my proudest moment, though, was when I was asked by two shipowners, who were splitting their joint fleet between the two families, to provide their values. For them, this was a win win as there could be no bias and no argument between brokers acting for one or the other. VV doesn’t have an angle or prejudice. It simply seeks the truth without favour but always with the utmost transparency.”
Q4. What do you hope VV will accomplish in the next year?
“Over the next 12 months, we hope to have really nailed down all the remaining shipping asset types. Our Asia offices will start coming of age and maturing into major centres in their own right. Back in the VV HQ, we are working on another asset class that will take us into as yet unchartered waters. These are exciting times here at VV.”
Q5. What sets VV apart from competitors?
“I am really proud that we offer an unrivalled service whereby you can obtain a value for today, yesterday, or tomorrow, on a market basis, a discounted value basis, or simply a book value. All of this is done quickly and easily for multiple fleets, portfolios, and groups, that include some very awkward, difficult, complex asset types. Combine this with full ownership history of when an asset was bought or sold, whether second hand or newbuild, add to that knowing where the vessel is, was and is going to be, and then consider its cargo, and you begin to have the whole picture. This is all available on one platform that is constantly updated and refreshed 24 hours a day. It’s fast , clean and clear and a pleasure to use whether at your desk or on the go on your phone. We are here to talk to you, and our analysts and researchers are always ready to engage in dialogue. We welcome it, as by helping you, we are helping build our product to make it even better.”