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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, retail and consumer goods landscape.
This week, Kim Kardashian launches a consumer-focused private equity fund, and Amazon is bringing a 138-year-old warehouse robotics company in house. Plus, check out the details on new investment for pet food proteins, women’s running shoes, food product drops and textured haircare.
Check out the latest deal news:
Kim Kardashian and Jay Sammons are launching SKYY Ventures. (Courtesy photo)
Kim Kardashian has a new venture in consumer goods. The celebrity and businesswoman is teaming with investment veteran Jay Sammons to launch SKYY Partners, a new private equity firm that will back consumer and media companies. The firm is set to make controlling and minority investments in companies operating in sectors including consumer products, digital and ecommerce, consumer media and entertainment, hospitality and luxury. Kardashian brings a massive social following and experience founding the consumer brand SKIMS. Sammons, who will lead day-to-day operations, worked for 16 years at the private equity firm Carlyle, where he was the global head of consumer, media and retail. Kardashian’s mother and manager Kris Jenner will also join as a partner.
Cap Hill Brands, a consumer products company that acquires and operates DTC and ecommerce brands, raised $100 million, Geekwire reported. The Series B round was led by investment giant BlackRock. Along with the funding round, the two-year-old company recently brought on former Best Buy CMO Greg Revelle as chief commercial officer, former Holland America Group chief people officer Susan Coskey as chief people officer and general counsel and former Carvana VP of financial planning John McKeon as chief financial officer. Cap Hill Brands has acquired 35 brands since launch, and seeks to grow them by providing core operations, technology and management.
Bond Pet Foods, which employs biotech to make meat proteins for pets, raised $17.5 million in a Series A funding round. Investors included ADM Ventures, the venture arm of Archer Daniels Midland Company, Cavallo Ventures, Genoa Ventures, Lever VC, Thia Ventures, iSelect Fund, Stage 1 Fund, Lifely VC and Satori Capital. Musicians Joan Jett and Sia Isabelle Furler were investors, as well. Bond Pet Foods said it uses precision fermentation to make “nutritionally comparable” chicken, beef, fish and other meat proteins that are used in pet food. Following the funding round, the company is aiming to triple the size of its team and scale up production at a forthcoming, 15,000-square-foot facility in Boulder, Colorado.
Delli, a food marketplace venture created by Depop founder Simon Beckerman, raised $7.2 million. The round was co-led by Balderton and HV Capital, who were both early investors in Depop, the fashion resale marketplace that was acquired by Etsy for $1.6 billion in 2021. Seeking to support emerging brands, Delli applies the “drop” model of launching products that was popularized in fashion to food.
adwoa beauty, a textured haircare brand, raised $4 million in growth capital from Pendulum, an investment platform supporting founders of color. Founded in 2017 by entrepreneur Julian Addo, adwoa beauty makes 12 haircare products that come in clean formulas and gender-neutral packaging. With the new funding, the brand will seek to develop new products, increase staffing and invest in brand awareness and retail support. Pendulum Managing Director Ron Mackey said adwoa has “showcased robust growth as an initially self-funded, innovative brand that has now turned consumers into loyal devotees across the country.”
Hilma, a DTC running shoe brand focused on women, raised $3 million in a seed investment round, Footwear News reported. The funding round was led by Brand Foundry Ventures, former Nike president and Banana Republic CEO Jeanne Jackson, Rothy’s cofounder Roth Martin, Tecovas founder Paul Hedrick, Ceremonia founder Babba Rivera and former RunKeeper CEO Jason Jacobs. Founded by Brooke Torres, Hilma is employing fit technology and personalized buying that is created for women. The shoe is slated for launch in October.
OOFOS, an active recovery footwear brand, received investment from Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr as part of a multi-year partnership. OOFOS slides and slippers contain an impact-absorbing foam technology which cradle the heel and arches. Carr said he has used the product for several years after he was given a pair by an athletic trainer following an injury. Along with the investment deal, Carr will serve as a brand ambassador to highlight “the importance of recovery in Derek's success on the field.” Terms were not disclosed.
ZineOne, an in-session marketing platform that helps brands and retailers engage anonymous traffic on a web property, raised $28 million in a Series C funding round. SignalFire led the funding, with participation from Norwest and other existing investors. Built for digital marketing in a “privacy-forward world,” ZineOne uses machine learning to analyze behavior patterns within the first few clicks to deliver product recommendations and promotional offers. “Currently, 80-90% of site visitors are anonymous, and ZineOne is able to intelligently segment visitors within five clicks to optimize conversions,” said Chris Scoggins, a partner at SignalFire that is joining ZineOne’s board with the investment. ZineOne’s clients include Men’s Wearhouse, Wynn Resorts, KEEN, Advance Auto Parts and Kohl’s.
PowerPlant Partners, an investment firm that backs plant-based consumer food and beverage brands, closed its third fund with $330 million in capital. With PPV Fund III, the firm is expanding its focus to include consumer technology, service and enablement companies. It will invest between $15 million and $40 million in growth-stage companies. The fund has already invested in Miyoko’s Creamery, Liquid Death, Partake Brewing and SYSTM Foods, which was the result of the acquisition and combination of Chameleon Cold-Brew and REBBL.
Mergers and acquisitions
Misfits Market. (Courtesy photo)
Grocery platforms that built their businesses by rescuing produce that would’ve otherwise gone to waste are coming together. Misfits Market announced a deal to acquire Imperfect Foods. With the deal, the companies will combine under the leadership of Misfits Market CEO Abhi Ramesh and executives from both teams. Misfits Market was founded in 2018, delivers to 48 states and became a unicorn last year after surpassing a $1 billion valuation. Imperfect Foods was founded in 2015, and brings an in-house delivery fleet and private label program. “Scale matters in grocery, and this combination makes us a truly meaningful disruptor in the space,” stated Imperfect Foods CEO Dan Park. Terms were not disclosed.
Instacart acquired Rosie, an ecommerce platform for local and independent grocers. Founded in 2013, Rosie has helped local grocers introduce online ordering capabilities by providing branded websites and apps for grocers that power order flow, fulfillment and customer insights. The company’s capabilities will be added to Instacart Platform, which is the grocery technology company’s suite of offerings for grocers. In turn, Rosie’s existing clients will gain access to Instacart’s in-store technology, retail media and smart carts that it added last year through the acquisition of Caper. Terms of the Rosie deal were not disclosed.
Amazon acquired Cloostermans, a warehouse robotics company based in Belgium. The two companies have worked together since 2019, as Amazon uses Cloostermans’ mechatronics solutions to help move and stack pallets, or package products together. Cloostermans, which was founded in 1884 as a textile-focused repair shop, has more than 200 employees that will join Amazon Global Robotics in Europe. Amazon VP of Global Robotics Ian Simpson wrote that he is “excited to see what we can build together.” Terms were not disclosed.
Musical instrument manufacturer Roland is acquiring Drum Workshop. The deal brings together electronic music-focused Roland with a maker of acoustic instruments in Drum Workshop, which owns drum brands including DW, Gretsch and Pacific. The companies said that joining forces would push product development for both electronic and acoustic drums forward. "Roland's philosophy in driving innovation across all forms of expression is complimentary with ours, and we are excited to join forces in this relationship that will benefit artists and musicians everywhere," said Chris Lombardi, CEO of Drum Workshop, Inc., in a statement.
Trending in Marketing
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.