The news is out: George Clooney sold his tequila company for a reported $1 billion.
For some people, that might be where the story ends, but the beginning of this story is the most interesting part.
The Hollywood actor started the tequila company, called Casamigos, with entrepreneur Rande Gerber, who’s the husband of supermodel Cindy Crawford. Their third partner was real estate developer Mike Meldman.Screenshot/YouTube
The name of the company came from what they called the homes that Gerber and Clooney built on a single lot on the beach at Los Cabos, on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico in 2009.
Gerber told Architectural Digest in 2013 that they’d been buddies for a long time, and their houses reflected their friendship:
“We’ve been hanging out for 20-something years,” says Gerber, a nightlife entrepreneur who now focuses on his tequila-and-rum company, Gerber Spirits.
…[T]he houses are basically used as a single home, with overflow from one accommodated by the other, and meals and other activities frequently split between the two. “Our lives go back and forth,” Crawford says. “We’ll have cocktails at our place and dinner at George’s, and vice versa.
Long before the houses were built, we would travel to Baja together, staying at different hotels and drinking tequila.”
In their company video, the two explain that they decided to make their “house brand” of tequila to enjoy while they were hanging out by the pool with their friends.
Eventually, it grew into a big idea, and they ran with it.Screenshot/YouTube
Gerber, who was already in the restaurant and spirits business, explained to Bloomberg in 2013 that they tasted a lot of tequila, decided what they wanted their taste “profile” to be, and found a Mexican distillery to produce the kind of tequila they liked to drink at home:
We got to the point where we had been drinking it for four or five years, and it was just for ourselves and our friends to enjoy. The distillery called us one day and said, ‘hey guys, you’re bringing in about a thousand bottles, so either you’re either drinking too much or you’re selling it. And if you’re selling it you need to get licensed, you need to do things the right way.’
So we obviously said we’re not selling it. We’re drinking it, our friends are drinking it and it was just catching on, people wanted it. But we were giving it away to friends in order to keep producing our own tequila. So we said, ‘let’s launch this to the public and let everyone enjoy it.'”
And the brand took off from there.
Now, it’s everywhere.
Vanity Fair reported that in 2016, the two entrepreneurs sold their houses on the beach to a Mexican billionaire and made $100 million on the deal.
CNBC reports that they’ve sold their tequila company for a reported $700 million in cash, with a $300 million spiff if the brand expands.
CNBC said that Clooney’s surprised by the sale:
“If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion dollar company, I don’t think we would have said yes,” Clooney told CNBC via email. “This reflects Diageo’s belief in our company and our belief in Diageo. But we’re not going anywhere. We’ll still be very much a part of Casamigos. Starting with a shot tonight. Maybe two.”
And Gerber told CNBC:
“This all happened naturally. We just wanted the best tequila for us to drink — so when it turned into a business, it was easy, because we didn’t really care about whether or not it was a huge success or not.”
Sure, they had some capital to spend on their wild hare of an idea, but success in a business usually requires more desire than cash.
They built the product they liked, and now they’re reaping their reward. All because they just wanted to drink some tequila they liked.
Vanity Fair reported that Gerber, Crawford, their kids, and Clooney, and his wife, Amal, and their new twins are building a new set of homes close to each other in Mexico.
And who knows where their next big idea will lead?
Here’s the company’s promotional video: