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Welcome to Dealboard. In this weekly feature, The Current is providing a look at the mergers, acquisitions and venture capital deals making waves in the ecommerce and consumer goods landscape.
This week, Walmart takes a stake in a tech partner, Moët Hennessy brings on a Napa Valley legend and a group of ecommerce software companies are reporting big funding rounds.
Take a look at this week’s activity:
Walmart takes a stake in Symbotic
Walmart partnered with Symbotic in 2021 to bring more automation to its warehouses, and in May expanded its use of the company’s technology to all 42 of its regional distribution centers in the coming years.
This comes a few weeks after Symbotic made its public debut on the Nasdaq by merging with a SPAC that is affiliated with prominent investment firm Softbank.
Walmart has said Symbotics' technology plays a key role in its ongoing supply chain improvements. Specifically, Symbotic creates palletized loads of department-sorted inventory. This gets products onto shelves at its stores more quickly, and makes materials handling safer. It's part of a big upgrade to fulfillment and distribution center technology planned by Walmart in the coming years, as the company seeks to build out ecommerce operations to rival Amazon.
Moët Hennessy acquires Napa vineyard
LVMH-owned Moët Hennessy is adding a fine wine legend to its luxury offerings.
The wine and spirits division acquired the Napa Valley wine collection of Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Known for the Bourdeaux-style blend Insignia, the winemaker was of the pioneers that made California a wine destination.
“Joseph Phelps has been to the Napa Valley what Nicolas Ruinart, Mrs. Clicquot, Joseph Krug and Claude Moët were to the Champagne region, and likewise we will continue to develop this new House in the respect of the founder’s heritage and vision,” said Philippe Schaus, chairman and chief executive officer of Moët Hennessy.
Henkel, Shiseido close on professional haircare acquisition
Henkel has completed the acquisition of the professional haircare business of Shiseido, the companies announced this week. This includes the brands Sublimic and Primience. With the deal, Shiseido will retain a 20% stake in the business.
Initially announced in February, the deal will help Henkel bolster its presence in Asia, the company said. Henkel also plans to set up a J-beauty innovation hub in Tokyo to develop new products for Asian consumers.
It adds to a portfolio that also includes hair color brand Schwarzkopf Professional, as well as Bonacure, Igora Royal and Authentic Beauty Concept. Henkel is planning to merge its beauty care and homecare divisions into a newly-created Henkel Consumer Brands unit next year.
Bodybuilding.com partners with Retail Commerce Ventures
DTC online fitness store Bodybuilding.com has a new partnership with digital marketing experts at Retail Ecommerce Ventures.
Founded in 1999, Bodybuilding.com specializes in dietary, sports, and bodybuilding supplements, offering private-label and third-party brands. It also has an app, and a loyalty community with over 15 million registered members.
For its part, Retail Commerce Ventures works with brands to build ecommerce capabilities, with a focus on helping legacy brands move from brick-and-mortar to digital storefronts. In the case of Bodybuilding.com, the goal is to expand its online presence. Founded by Tai Lopez and Alex Mehr, it has a portfolio that includes Pier 1, Radio Shack, Dressbarn, Ralph & Russo, Stein Mart, Franklin Mint, Modell's, MentorBox, FarmersCart, Linens 'n Things and more.
"This company's history is only in its first inning, and at a time when there's so much noise and confusion on the internet, Bodybuilding.com's trusted content, products, and community are more valuable than ever,” said Lopez of Bodybuilding.com, in a statement.
Shop Circle raises $65 million
UK-based ecommerce app operator Shop Circle launched out of stealth mode last week with financing of $65 million.
The funding was led by NFX and QED. Investors, with participation from 645 Ventures, FirstMinute Capital and Triple Point Capital. Global law firm Orrick participated in a strategic advisory capacity.
Founded by Luca Cartechini and Gian Maria Gramondi in 2021, the company created a “one-stop shop” for Shopify merchants to find the best apps for their needs, without having to search through the 7,500 apps available on the platform. It says it is behind six apps with 40,000 downloads by merchants. The company’s business model includes options for app entrepreneurs to sell to Shop Circle, or join the company’s team and work alongside its teams to grow.
“With the funding, we are able to rapidly increase our portfolio of apps and support more direct-to-consumer brands in building experiences their customers will love,” said Cartechini, the company’s CEO, in a statement.
Nautical Commerce raises $30 million
Nautical Commerce executives. (Courtesy photo)
Nautical Commerce, which helps brands, retailers and B2B businesses launch company-operated marketplaces, raised $30 million in a Series A round.
The funding was led by Drive Capital, with participation from existing investors Accomplice Ventures and Golden Ventures.
With leaders bringing experience from Apple, Visa, Top Hat and TouchBistro, Nautical offers a platform that allows companies to launch multi-vendor marketplaces in as little as 90 days.
With the funding, it is planning to add over 40 new team members this year.
“Ecommerce is becoming more distributed and single-vendor platforms were not built for this multi-vendor future. Ryan and his team built the only multi-vendor ecommerce platform and are serving a huge need in the market,” said Drive Capital’s Masha Khusid, in a statement. “We’re impressed by what Nautical has already accomplished and are proud to enable them to deliver on their mission to democratize marketplace technology.”
Y Combinator leads $6M seed round for Promoted
Promoted, which unifies search, feed, ads, and promotions for ecommerce marketplaces, raised $6 million in seed funding.
The round was led by Y Combinator, and included participation from Interlace Ventures, Vela Partners and angel investors including Michael Seibel, the managing director at Y Combinator.
Typically, teams at ecommerce marketplaces have separate teams for ads, merchandising, search, and recommendations. This leads the data to be siloed, as well. Promoted solves this by:
- Measuring everything in its client’s app or marketplace.
- Aggregating and joining the data in real-time with reporting.
- Using AI to create a complete picture of the data to predict conversion and clicks for the client’s search and feed.
- Creating a “‘unified currency’ for optimizing trade-offs between the optimal user experience in search and feed, seller experience using ads and promotions, and marketplace profitability versus growth.”
With the funding in hand, the company will continue to develop its streaming data infrastructure platform, and hire additional engineers.
“Promoted helps large marketplaces and ecommerce apps achieve profitability at scale and react in real-time to how ads, search, listings and promotions perform,” Seibel said. “Promoted’s tools optimize marketplaces -- leading to double digit conversion increases -- and are becoming an integral component of how marketplaces make money. We are excited to continue to work with the Promoted team, who have deep experience in adtech engineering."
SleekFlow raises $8 million
The SleekFlow team. (Courtesy photo)
Hong Kong-based Social commerce platform SleekFlow said it raised $8 million in a Series A funding round.
The funding was led by leading tech investor Tiger Global Partners, with participation from Transcend Capital and AEF Greater Bay Area Fund, managed by Gobi Partners GBA.
The company makes an omnichannel social commerce platform that enables the processes behind the selling of products directly through social media channels. This includes features such as a system that generates payment links in chats. It also integrates with 2,500 tools and messaging channels, and helps businesses track and retain potential sales leads from both online and offline channels.
Following the funding round, the company plans to grow in Southeast Asia, where it currently has a presence, and expand to the UK and Europe. It also plans to invest in product development, with a focus on areas such as one-click checkout.
Trending in Operations
On the Move has the latest from Amazon, Lovesac and more.
This week, leadership is changing at GameStop, Sorel and Beautycounter. Meanwhile, key executives are departing at Amazon, Wayfair and Lovesac.
Here’s a look at the latest shuffles:
GameStop CEO fired
GameStop announced the termination of Matthew Furlong as CEO on Wednesday. A brief statement did not provide a reason for the firing.
With the move, Chewy founder and activist investor Ryan Cohen was named executive chairman of the video game retailer. Cohen will be responsible for capital allocation and overseeing management.
It came as the company reported a 10% year-over-year decline in net sales for the first quarter. Meanwhile, the company’s net loss improved by 62%.
In an SEC filing, GameStop further added this “We believe the combination of these efforts to stabilize and optimize our core business and achieve sustained profitability while also focusing on capital allocation under Mr. Cohen’s leadership will further unlock long-term value creation for our stockholders.”
Cohen was revealed as GameStop's largest shareholder when he disclosed a 10% stake in the retailer in 2020. GameStop went on to become a leading name in the meme stock rise of 2021.
Sorel president steps down
Mark Nenow is stepping down as president of the Sorel brand in order to focus on his health.
After rising to the role in 2015, Nenow spearheaded a transformation of Columbia Sportswear-owned Sorel from a men’s workwear brand to a fashion-focused brand that led with a women’s offering of boots, sandals and sneakers.
“Mark led the brand to sales of $347 million in net sales in 2022,” said Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle, in a statement. “His leadership has been invaluable to this company, and we wish him the very best.”
Columbia will conduct a search for Nenow’s replacement. Craig Zanon, the company’s SVP of emerging brands, will lead Sorel in the interim.
Beautycounter appoints interim CEO
Beautycounter appointed board member Mindy Mackenzie as interim CEO, succeeding Marc Rey. According to the brand, Rey and the board “mutually decided to transition to a new phase of leadership for Beautycounter.”
McKenzie, a former executive at Carlyle, McKinsey and Jim Beam, will lead the company as it conducts a search for a permanent CEO. Additionally, former Natura & Co CEO Roberto Marques will join Beautycounter’s board as chair.
As part of the transition, Nicole Malozi is also joining the company as chief financial officer. She brings experience from Tatcha, Nike, and DFS Group Limited.
Amazon’s North America fulfillment chief departs
Melissa Nick, a VP of customer fulfillment for North America at Amazon, will leave the company, effective June 16, CNBC reported. Nick joined the company in 2014, and oversaw a region that included nearly 300 fulfillment centers. After doubling its supply chain footprint during the pandemic, Amazon recently reorganized its fulfillment operations to take a regional approach, as opposed to a national model that often resulted in items shipping across the country.
Wayfair’s chief commercial officer to retire
Jon Blotner (Courtesy photo)
Steve Oblak will retire from the role of chief commercial officer at home goods marketplace Wayfair. With the move, Jon Blotner will be promoted to chief commercial officer.
"Steve has served as a critical part of our leadership team and played a pivotal role in Wayfair's growth, helping us grow from a $250 million business when he joined to $12 billion in net revenue today,” said Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah, in a statement. “He oversaw countless milestones, from helping to launch the Wayfair brand as we brought together hundreds of sites into a single platform, to launching new categories, business lines, and geographies while overseeing our North American and European businesses, to leading our debut into physical retail.”
Blotner previously oversaw exclusive and specialty retail brands, as well as digital media at Wayfair. Before joining the company, he served as president of Gemvara.com prior to its 2016 acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway.
Lovesac announces CFO transition
Furniture retailer Lovesac said Donna Dellomo will retire as EVP and CFO, and move to an advisory role, effective June 30. Dellomo was with Lovesac for six years.
Keith Siegner was appointed as the next EVP and CFO. He brings experience as CFO of esports company Vindex, as well as executive roles at Yum! Brands, UBS Securities and Credit Suisse.
Additionally, Jack Krause will retire from the role of chief strategy officer, effective June 30. His responsibilities will be divided between CEO Shawn Nelson and president Mary Fox.
“Since joining Lovesac, Jack has played an instrumental role in transforming the Company into a true omni channel retailer by helping expand our physical touchpoints and digital platform as we continue to disrupt the industry,” said Nelson, in a statement.
NRF adds board members
The National Retail Federation announced the addition of five new board members. They include:
- Marguerite Adzick, founder and CEO, Addison Bay
- Harley Finkelstein, president, Shopify
- Ian Kahn, partner, PwC
- Sharon Leite, CEO, Ideal Image
- Carrie Tharp, VP, strategic industries, Google Cloud