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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.
Before we get to this week’s funding and M&A news, we’ve got one update that doesn’t appear to involve investment or change of ownership, but is nonetheless intriguing.
Shopify is partnering with alcohol ecommerce company DRINKS to provide the wine industry with tools to make online selling easier. The companies are rolling out a regulatory system that will have real-time tax and compliance embedded within Shopify native checkout. Available to Shopify Plus merchants at launch, it’s designed to help wineries and retailers expand in DTC.
Count wine among the industries that is working to remove barriers to digital adoption.
Now, here’s all of this week’s dealflow in ecommerce. Drink up:
FedEx is growing its partnership with Berkshire Grey. (Courtesy photo)
- Customer experience startup Gorgias raised $30 million in a Series C funding round. The financing was led by ed by Alex Bangash of Transpose Platform and Bram Sugarman of Shopify, with participation from Jason Lemkin of SaaStr, Rajeev Dham of Sapphire Ventures, CRV and Alven. With a focus on helping DTC businesses drive revenue with existing customers through, the company is serving 10,000 merchants, including Princess Polly, Steve Madden, Olipop and Marine Layer.
- Robots are going deeper into the supply chain at FedEx. The carrier has agreed to buy $200 million worth of supply chain robotics-focused goods and services from Berkshire Grey in exchange for 25 million shares of Berkshire Grey stock. The companies did not disclose the value of the stock, which vests incrementally as FedEx buys services before the end of 2025. Extending a partnership that began in 2021, Berkshire Grey will help FedEx "improve the safety and efficiency of FedEx package handling operations globally," the companies said.
- Clevertap, a Mountain View, California-based SaaS platform providing customer engagement and retention tools for digital consumer brands, raised $105 million in a Series D round. Global investment group CDPQ committed $75 million and led the round. Participants included new investor IIFL Asset Management's tech fund and existing investors Tiger Global and Sequoia India. The deal comes after Clevertap acquired customer engagement platform Leanplum in June.
- Social platform company Meta made an investment in Take App, a startup that helps businesses set up an ecommerce website, and tools to sell directly within WhatsApp. Based in Singapore, Take App was founded by former Facebook engineering manager Youmin Kim, according to Techcrunch. YCombinator and angels joined Meta in the $1 million round.
- Tech-enabled furniture company Oliver Space raised $36 million in new funding. The round was led by Union Grove Venture Partners, with participation from Mayfield Fund, USVP, Expa Capital, Abstract Ventures, LG Technology Ventures and Avenue Capital Group. Oliver Space boasts a “fully circular shopping experience,” which offers new and refurbished furniture, trade-ins and pickup.
- Smart grocery cart startup Shopic announced a $35 million Series B investment. The round was led by Qualcomm Ventures, and included participation from Vintage Investment Partners and Clal Insurance, alongside existing investors Tal Ventures, IBI Tech Fund, Claridge Israel, and Shufersal. Founded in 2014, New York-based Shopic makes an AI clip-on for grocery carts that identifies items when they are placed in a cart, and displays information about promotions and discounts.
- ReturnLogic, a Philadelphia-based SaaS platform offering returns management, raised $8.5 million in a Series A round that will help the company expand to additional markets beyond Shopify. The round was led by Mercury, with participation from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Fund, White Rose Ventures and Ben Franklin Technology Partners.
Mergers and acquisitions
A Blue Nile showroom. (Courtesy photo)
- Zales' owner put a ring on it. Signet Jewelers acquired Blue Nile, an ecommerce retailer specializing in engagement rings and other jewelry. The all-cash deal was valued at $360 million. Blue Nile, which had earlier this year announced plans to return to the public markets, reported $500 million in revenue in 2021.
- Planet conscious clothing manufacturer ecologyst Outfitters acquired Frankie Collective, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based womens streetwear collective that upcycles vintage and unsold garments. The deal allows ecologyst to enter the resale market, which is expected to be valued at $53 billion by 2023.
- Shift Technologies, a platform for buying and selling used cars with a strong West Coast presence, plans to merge with CarLotz, a consignment-to-retail used vehicle marketplace with a Mid-Atlantic base. The stock-for-stock merger will create a combined company trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol SFT.
- Vera Bradley sold goodMRKT, a retail startup that offers a community-driven model for socially-conscious brands, to cofounder Harry Cunningham, WWD reported. goodMRKT’s assets include an ecommerce site and single retail location in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Going forward, Cunningham indicated he is working to expand the retail footprint.
- Private label manufacturer Treehouse Foods is selling a “significant” portion of its meal preparation business to European investment group Investindustrial in a deal valued at $950 million. In a bid to simplify its business, Treehouse is divesting the following categories: pasta, pourable and spoonable dressing, preserves, red sauces, syrup, dry blends and baking, dry dinners, pie filling, pita chips and other sauces.
Trending in Operations
LadderUp is aiming for 50% LGBTQ+ and BIPOC participation. Shopify will provide access to its platform.
Shipt is launching a new accelerator program designed to provide ecommerce tools for local retailers.Called LadderUp, the program is centered on equity. Target-owned delivery owned Shipt said conversations with business owners have revealed that local entrepreneurs face “gaps” in technology, but they also want to participate in ecommerce platforms. The COVID-19 pandemic was especially difficult for Black business owners, who saw earnings drop between 11-28% in 2019-2020, as compared to the earnings decrease of 5-17% for the rest of the population.
With the new program, the company’s goal is to reach at least 50% LGBTQ+ and BIPOC participation in the program.
Shipt is aiming to serve businesses in Atlanta, Birmingham, Alabama, Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C.
Target categories include: grocery/beverage, health, beauty, and floral/gifts retailers.
“Working with small businesses to build up their capabilities is a key part of our commitment to help create healthier, more resilient and equitable communities,” said CEO Kamau Witherspoon. “We recognize the unique role that we can play in both combating hunger in under-resourced communities and boosting small, local retailers that are so vital to communities across our country.”
What will entrepreneurs receive?
Education: Business owners who are selected will receive an 8-week course with industry leaders that covers business-building topics including finances, efficiency, marketing, ecommerce 101, the basics of using Shipt, and legal knowledge.
Funding: Upon completion, retailers will provide $5,000 for businesses to invest in ecommerce.
Shopify access: Shopify, which is partnering with Shipt, is also providing to its access for a limited amount of time to help business owners build an online storefront and manage inventory. The program will also provide technical assistance.Applications are open Feb. 6- March 6.