Economy

12 VC and acquisition deals growing ecommerce this week

Dealboard rounds up the latest from aggregators, DTC brands and startups.

a graphic showing 3 people shaking hands

(Graphic by The Current)

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, aggregators show there’s still willing investors in the market to support the acquisition of DTC brands, and moves on the fulfillment and retailer side aim to bolster European ecommerce capabilities.

Here’s the roundup:

M&A

Singapore-based Carousell acquires Refash

Refash and Carousell CEOs in front of a Refash store.

Carousell and Refash are joining forces.

Recommerce platforms serving Southeast Asia are teaming up in an acquisition deal announced last week.

Carousell is set to acquire online thrift store Refash. The deal will bolster the fashion category for Carousell, while also bringing the company’s 10 physical thrift stores into its fold.

Singapore-based Refash, which was founded in 2015, will continue to operate as a standalone brand, keeping its name and team.

“We see immense opportunity in teaming up to make selling even simpler for anyone time-starved who has underused clothes in their wardrobes,” said Quek Siu Rui, cofounder and CEO of Carousell, in a statement. “With our reach and expertise in using technology and AI to create seamless buy-sell experiences for secondhand, we are excited to partner and accelerate the growth of Refash.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Athlete’s Foot acquires AsphaltGold

The parent company of footwear and lifestyle retailer The Athlete's Foot is making a move to expand in Europe with the acquisition of online sneaker and streetwear retailer Asphaltgold.

With the move, The Arklyz Group will add Asphaltgold to the portfolio of The Athlete’s Foot. This follows the acquisition of The Athlete’s Foot by the Switzerland-based Arklyz Group last year.

Asphaltgold will continue to operate its platform throughout Europe, and a store in Germany.

"The acquisition of Asphaltgold was a strategic decision for us," said Arklyz Group CEO Param Singh, in a statement. "The business has a global online presence and access to exclusive brand collections which is something we truly admire and will be utilizing this component."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Dough Ecommerce Capital and Byrne Capital Ventures partner to acquire DTC brands

Here’s a deal that forecasts coming acquisitions.

Dough Ecommerce Capital and Byrne Capital Ventures announced a partnership to invest in and acquire DTC brands.

This brings together Byrne’s expertise in M&A and investment strategy with Dough’s expertise in the ecommerce space. The latter is backed by ecommerce firm Metacake, and has worked with brands such as Tony Robbins, Old Spice, Groove Life and Gibson Guitars.

“We're looking forward to scaling our acquisition efforts and increasing the value of portfolio brands through this partnership,” Dough cofounder Ken Ott said in a statement.

Future acquires WhoWhatWear

Here’s a deal that could play a role in shaping fashion media, where brands and retailers are frequently covered.

British media company Future said it acquired US digital women’s lifestyle publisher Who What Wear.

Founded in 2006 by Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr, Who What Wear boasts 12 million monthly online users and 10 million social media followers, according to the companies. Kerr also hosts the popular Second Life podcast, which will continue to be a part of the business.

“Since our launch in 2006, Who What Wear has been and will continue to be a pioneer in every form of digital content, from website and social media to live stream shopping, podcasts, and more,” Kerr, who will continue to lead the brand along with President Brianna Mobrem Chief Revenue Officer Shayna Kossove, said in a statement. “We have created an enduring brand that will live for generations to come.”

The deal comes a year after Future acquired Marie Claire. Following this acquisition, Future said it will become the sixth largest beauty and fashion publisher in the United States.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

FUNDING

Wayflyer raises $300 million in debt financing

Wayflyer cofounders Jack Pierse (L) and Aidan Corbett (R)

Wayflyer cofounders Jack Pierse (L) and Aidan Corbett (R) (Photo: Business Wire)

Wayflyer has its second funding in the first half of 2022.

The ecommerce growth platform announced that it secured $300 million in debt financing. The financing was led by J.P. Morgan, with Neuberger Bermann acting as a mezzanine provider.

Founded in 2019 by Jack Pierse and Aidan Corbett, Wayflyer provides non-dilutive financing for ecommerce businesses that allows them to secure ad space and inventory. It also offers a marketing analytics platform.

The news comes after Wayflyer raised $150 million in a Series B round in February. That funding was also led by J.P. Morgan.

Aggregator Agora Brands raises $83.5 million for DTC acquisitions

Shopify-focused ecommerce aggregator Agora Brands raised $83.5 million to acquire small-to-medium-sized DTC brands.

The round was led by Maverix Private Equity, with participation from Palo Alto-based Foundation Capital and Victory Park Capital. With the deal, Maverix Managing Partner Michael Wasserman Foundation Capital Partner Jonathan Ehrlich are joining the board of directors at Agora Brands.

Agora primarily acquires DTC businesses operating in the Shopfiy ecosystem with annual revenues of $1–20 million. Founders continue to operate the brands, while accessing shared services and expertise from Agora. It has already acquired businesses in categories such as automotive, apparel, personal wellness products and home goods.

The aggregator was founded by Jesse Horwitz, Ben Cogan and Ray Cao, who have experience building and exiting Harry's, Clearco and Hubble, among other businesses.

“We've been pursuing an aggressively high-growth strategy, and this will help us grow even faster,” Cao said in a statement. “It will also help us strengthen our operational infrastructure, including growing our centralized support functions such as finance and HR, and a portion of this capital will go toward developing technology that will drive automation and institutionalize processes under the Agora banner."

Nexite raises Series C for in-store intelligence

Store intelligence platform Nexite announced a $67 million Series C investment.

The round was led by Pitango Growth and Saban Ventures, with participation from existing investors Battery Ventures, Intel Capital, Pitango First and Vertex Ventures.

Tel Aviv-based Nexite aims to bring analytics typically used in ecommerce to the realm of physical stores. Using a patented NanoBT (bluetooth) tag, its connected merchandise platform draws from data on items’ location, availability and performance. It also aligns this with data on customer journeys.

"We're providing complete transparency into the physical sales funnel and by doing so, we're creating a lexicon for in-store intelligence to optimize sales per square meter based on customer engagement data," said Anat Shakedd, co-founder and CEO at Nexite, in a statement. "We're introducing terms normally associated with ecommerce like abandonment, engagement and conversion into the physical realm.

To date, the company has raised $100 million.

Fulfillment platform byrd raises $56 million in Series C

Next-day delivery in Europe is in sight for fulfillment tech startup byrd after the company raised $56 million in a Series C round.

The round was led by supply chain-focused investment firm Cambridge Capital, with participation from Speedinvest, Mouro Capital, Elevator Ventures and other existing investors.

Vienna-based byrd makes order fulfillment software that is used by warehouse operators, and integrates with Amazon and Shopify.

The company already has a presence in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands,

and Austria. Recently, it launched new warehouse locations in Italy and Spain.

Following the funding round, the company plans to expand its current teams, and launch in Sweden, Denmark and Poland later this year. It aims to have a network of 30 warehouses in 10 countries, with 400 employees.

“byrd is one of the fastest-growing companies we have seen, at what we think are the strongest unit economics in the industry,” said Matt Smalley, a principal at Cambridge Capital, who is joining byrd’s Board of Directors, in a statement. “We were convinced by their tech-driven approach and proprietary warehouse management software, which enables byrd to run an asset-light fulfillment network. byrd’s broad coverage of the European market, excellent customer momentum and strong satisfaction with both retailers and warehouse partners appealed to us right away.”

byrd previously raised $19 million in a Series B round announced in July 2021.

Recurate raises $14 million for resale

Branded resale tech platform Recurate raised $14 million to help build a new suite of services and integrations.

The New York-based company was founded in 2020, and powers resale platforms for 40 brands, such as Steve Madden, Frye and Mara Hoffman. It is aiming to grow to more than 100 brand partners by the end of the year.

The funding round was led by Jump Capital. It includes participation from Gradient Ventures, XRC Labs, Victress Capital, Revolution's Rise of the Rest Fund, and AngelList Early-Stage Quant Fund, as well as executives from Brooks Brothers, Chubbies, and Klaviyo.

Following the funding round, the company is planning a host of new product additions in areas including data analytics, inventory, sustainability, merchandising and product recognition.

"Third party marketplaces have fostered a projected $77 billion industry for resold goods. Recurate provides the logical evolution for this appetite to flow through the brands themselves," said Yelena Shkolnik, Partner at Jump Capital, in a statement. "We expect the ease of purchasing and listing goods through brand sites will bring brands many new customers, help them retain existing customers and ultimately bring millions of consumers to the circular economy."

The company has now raised a total of $17.5 million.

DTC skincare brand Aavrani raises Series A

Aavrani, a DTC skincare brand inspired by India's ancient beauty rituals, raised $7 million in a Series A round, WWD reported.

Led by Skara Ventures, the funding will help the brand expand distribution, add new categories, address supply chain challenges and build its team.

Tidio raises $25 million for automated customer service

Customer service automation platform Tidio raised $25 million, according to TechCrunch. The round was led by PeakSpan Capital, with participation from Inovo Venture Partners and InPost CEO Rafał Brzosk.

San Francisco-based Tidio uses a combination of live chat apps, chatbots and analytics to help companies scale customer service, and has ecommerce-focused integrations.

Here’s what makes it unique in customer service tech, according to Techcrunch:

Customer service automation platforms like Tidio aren’t exactly cutting edge. To name a few, there’s Ultimate.ai, a data-ingesting, bot-builder platform and Ushur, which offers a service for businesses to create AI-based communication flows. Ada also slots into the category — it features chatbots powered by a natural language processing engine.

What makes Tidio stand out, co-founder and CEO Tytus Gołas asserts, is its simplicity in terms of implementation and structure. Tidio integrates with third-party services including email providers, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress and Shopify, allowing teams to manage customer interactions from a shared inbox. Plans range from free for two users to $332.50 per month (billed annually) for unlimited users and other extras.

Saara closes seed round to reduce returns

Ecommerce tech company Saara closed on a seed funding round to help DTC brands reduce product returns.

The round was led by South Asian VC firm 021 Capital, with participation from 9Unicorns and Lets Venture.

The Silicon Valley-based company developed an app that uses AI and machine learning to help brands manage and reduce returns. Called EcoReturns, it is available on the Shopify App Store, and will soon be available on Magento, WooCommerce and more.

“With this capital from our investors, Saara will continue to assist direct-to-consumer brands increase their profitability, introduce more market-disrupting products to build a stronger ecosystem,” said Sachin Garg, Saara's founder and CEO, in a statement.

Garg built the app to help brands turn returns into a profit center rather than a loss, and reduce environmental impact.

Terms of the round were not disclosed.


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