25 July 2022
Dealboard: Amazon's healthcare play, Shopify's creator commerce
Plus, new investment for ghost kitchens, live shopping and recommerce.
Plus, new investment for ghost kitchens, live shopping and recommerce.
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, a ghost kitchen startup raises $100 million, while a startup named Ghost comes out of stealth. Plus, Amazon makes its third-largest acquisition, social commerce companies raise big funding and Shopify makes a tokengated commerce investment.
Check out the latest:
A Kitchen United location. (Courtesy photo)
Ghost kitchen and restaurant tech company Kitchen United announced on Monday that it raised $100 million in new capital.
Participants in the Series C round included convenience chain Alimentation Couche-Tard/Circle K, grocer Kroger, Canadian fast food holding company Restaurant Brands International, B. Riley Venture Capital, mall owner Simon, real estate company Phillips Edison & Co and the HAVI Group.
Existing investors participating in the round included: Fidelity Investments Canada ULC, RXR, DivcoWest, Cali Group, GoldenArc Capital, General Global Capital and Rich Product Corporation.
Kitchen United founders Harry Tsao and John Miller, Kitchen United CEO Michael Montagano and NFL legend Peyton Manning also participated.
Kitchen United provides “off-premises” restaurants, where operators can tap into its technology and provide grab-and-go service for consumers, or delivery. It currently has 200 kitchens operating across 20 regions.
Going forward, the company plans to continue to focus on Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and Texas as key markets, while also expanding to additional geographic areas. It also plans to further evolve a multi concept ordering platform that is currently being used by Burger King, Popeyes, Panera Bread and Chick-Fil-A, among others.
Whatnot, a live shopping platform for collectors, raised $260 million in a Series D financing. The round brings the company's valuation to $3.7 billion, growing 2.5x from a $1.5 billion valuation in September 2021.
The funding round was co-led by DST Global and returning investor CapitalG, which is the independent growth fund of Google parent Alphabet. Other participants included BOND, and returning investors Andreessen Horowitz and YC Continuity.
Whatnot provides live shopping experiences for collectors in categories such as sneakers, trading cards, sports cards and memorabilia, rare toys and more. Going forward, it is planning to expand into additional categories, including diecast cars, stamps and action figures.
After growing sales 20x year-over-year in 2021, the company recently added former Citadel Securities executive Xinan Wu as head of infrastructure and former Lyft executive Agnieszka Podsiadło as head of core product engineering. Following the funding round, it will continue to hire in sales, marketing and engineering.
Flip brings content and commerce together. (Courtesy photo)
Social commerce platform Flip said it raised $60 million in a Series B funding round. The financing brings its valuation to $500 million.
The round was led by WestCap, and included participation from existing investors Mubadala Capital and Streamlined Ventures. The company has now raised a total of $90 million.
Flip said it combines “TikTok-like discovery” with the tools of an ecommerce platform. Users learn about products through 60-second, user-generated videos. These videos are shoppable, and provide access to one-click checkout and same-day shipping. When shoppers share their own video reviews, they can then monetize and in turn become creators on the platform.
Following the funding round, the company plans to expand the team, deepen its brand partnerships, and launch a third-party social commerce marketplace this summer.
“No one sells a product better than the customer that has purchased that product multiple times, and we see that every day on Flip,” said Noor Agha, founder and CEO of Flip, in a statement. ”Through our patented technology that dynamically connects digital content to physical products, we’ve developed a seamless discovery-to-purchase cycle where users can shop instantly through content, share their own video reviews of products they’ve purchased, while monetizing their content over time. It’s the beginning of the next era in ecommerce.”
Ecommerce platform Shopify made a strategic investment in Single, a startup that makes an app centered on tokengated commerce for creatives, artists and musicians.
Single offers an app for merchants on the Shopify store that allows creatives to mint a file as an NFT on the Solana blockchain. Then, they can push the NFT directly to a Shopify storefront, and sell it alongside other merchandise. In turn, the fans who purchase the NFT can use it as a digital key to unlock exclusive offerings including merch, audio or video content or livestreams. This process of using NFTs to offer perks is known as tokengated commerce. It not only creates fan club-style exclusive access for creators, but also provides “tangible value” for NFTs beyond ownership in and of itself, said Tommy Stalknecht, founder and CEO of Single, in a news release.
For Shopify, it’s an early sign of an app that uses new tokengated commerce capabilities. The company just launched these web3-forward features as part of its recent product update, known as Shopify Editions.
“Shopify sees NFTs as tools for community building and engagement,” said Chevy Walcott, Corporate Development Manager at Shopify, in a statement. “Our investment in Single and our growing blockchain ecosystem demonstrates our commitment to further grow participation in Web 3.0 and expand commerce possibilities for creatives, artists and musicians.”
Rush Recommerce, a platform specializing in home goods returns and resale, raised $12.9 million in a Series A.
The funding round was led by Beringea, with participation from Advantage Capital and existing shareholders.
The Omaha, Nebraska-based company created a marketplace for previously-opened home goods that helps to reduce the likelihood of disposal. Home goods can include larger items, so Rush developed specialized software and built a network to handle these items. The company currently works with 150 manufacturers and brands to handle their online return volume.
Following the funding round, the company will invest in enhancing its technology and growing its network.
Ecommerce giant Amazon made a splash with the acquisition of One Medical, a tech-enabled primary care provider that works on a membership model. The deal was worth $3.9 billion, and is Amazon’s third-largest acquisition to date, after MGM Studios and Whole Foods.
The deal first and foremost has implications for the healthcare industry, as Amazon made plain in its announcement that it feels it is “high on the list of experiences that need reinvention.” However, the subscription model could mean it ends up flowing back to Amazon’s primary and commerce-powered offering for customers: Amazon Prime. With Walmart expanding its own line of health services and Walgreens getting into primary care, don’t be surprised to see this area as a growing category where retailers will seek to add value and innovate.
Biopharma company GSK completed the demerger of its consumer health business, resulting in a standalone company. The move culminated as Haleon started trading on stock exchanges in New York and London last week.
The spinout created one of the largest consumer health companies, as Haleon is now the parent company of brands including Sensodyne, Advil, Robitussin and TUMS. The company will continue to develop brands and will work to remove barriers to everyday health.
Brand accelerator SuperOrdinary said it acquired FanFix in a deal that will help creators connect with lifestyle brands.
Founded by Harry Gestetner, Simon Pompan and social media star Cameron Dallas, FanFix provides access to content from GenZ creators. SuperOrdinary works with lifestyle brands including Farmacy, Joanna Vargas and Olaplex to assist with international development and omnichannel distribution. It has also grown work with creators amid expansion that was catapulted in 2021.
Combining forces will allow creators on the FanFix platform to expand partnerships and monetization opportunities, while providing brands with access to audience and insights. Going forward, the two teams will also seek to build new creator-led brands.
Cincy Brands, a company founded by former P&G executives that acquires and grows brands in the “better-for-you” category, said it made its first ecommerce acquisition.
It is bringing on Vitabox, a seller that offers products including vitamins, personal care products and pet supplies. Along with continuing to grow the retailer, Cincy Brands said Vitabox’s technology and fulfillment infrastructure will serve as the foundation of an operations platform for all of its brands.
Cincinnati-based Cincy Brands is looking to make additional acquisitions this year.
Retail ecommerce management platform CommerceIQ announced the acquisition of e.fundamentals, a UK-based digital shelf analytics platform.
Led by CEO John Maltman, e.fundamentals brings over 450 retailers in 41 countries. In a blog post, CommerceIQ CEO Guru Hariharan said the company’s analytics and store-level availability insights will be added to CommerceIQ’s sales, supply chain, and retail media automations, which are being used by more than 2,200 brands.
“John’s customers were eager to automate the insights and strategies uncovered through their DSA platform. And our CommerceIQ customers were ready to apply the full power of algorithmic retail to all the retailers that mattered to their brand,” Hariharan wrote.
Can Shop Cash entice more users to use the app for browsing and buying?
Shopify is launching a new rewards program for items purchased through its checkout system.
Shop Cash will provide the opportunity for consumers to earn 1% back on purchases made through Shop Pay.
The feature includes a direct tie-in with the Shop app. Users can check their balance through the app, and the rewards are redeemable for future purchases through Shop, as well.
“This is a coming of age moment for Shop. It’s become an incredible app that allows shoppers to discover great brands, check out with one tap, and track orders in real time,” said Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify, in a statement. “Shop Cash represents the next evolution of Shop, connecting independent brands to more shoppers, and rewarding those shoppers for being loyal fans.”
The launch falls on Shopify’s 17th birthday, so the ecommerce software company is giving away Shop Cash to celebrate. For Shop Day, Shopify partnered with dozens of merchants, including Trixie Cosmetics, MrBeast and Monday Swimwear. They’ll share custom links across channels that offer cash to spend on the Shop app. In all, Shopify will give away more than $1,000,000. Brands will also be running exclusive Shop Cash offers throughout the day.
The rewards program marks a new way that Shopify is aiming to transform Shop into more of a shopping app where users can discover new items, extending beyond its initial use for post-purchase order tracking and management at launch in 2020.
Shopify has been making moves over the last year to provide more opportunities to browse and buy recommended products, as well as giving brands more tools to showcase storefronts and tell their stories. With Shop Pay, the app offers one-click checkout. There are signs that it is all inspiring users to seek out the app. Shopify said 35% of the orders on the Shop app are repeat purchases.
With more brands joining the app and infrastructure for the shopper experience and checkout in place, rewards can help make the app stickier for consumers. The opportunity to earn cash, redeem it and even check a rewards balance are all reasons to keep returning to the app, and make it a destination to shop.
Shopify has long been known as the infrastructure layer of commerce, as it provided the tools for brands to run and manage an online store under their own name. With the Shop app, it is aiming to make Shopify itself a destination for shopping. It remains a nascent effort, even as more brands have taken advantage of the new features to enhance storefronts.
This comes as marketplaces continue to rise across ecommerce, and giants like Amazon and Walmart experiment with tools that do more to boost discovery of new products.
Social media has long been the engine of discovery in ecommerce, especially in the direct-to-consumer realm that Shopify has owned. Users found products on Facebook or Instagram, then finished checkout on a brand's phase. With the push toward privacy making performance marketing more difficult and customer acquisition costs rising, the ecommerce platforms are attempting to take that power into their own hands. With advertising placed close to the point of sale through retail media and the ability to check out on the same page where a user sees a product, marketplaces and Shop are realizing new opportunities to attract, convert and deliver for users within one app. For Shop, the trick is to attract more shoppers to the app. Rewards like Shop Cash are a carrot to do just that.