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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 acquireImperfect 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 acquiredRosie, 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 manufacturerRolandis 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
Labor disputes on the West Coast could cause further disruption heading into peak season.
When the first half of 2023 is complete, imports are expected to dip 22% below last year.
That’s according to new data from the Global Port Tracker, which is compiled monthly by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The decline has been building over the entire year, as imports dipped in the winter. With the spring, volume started to rebound. In April, the major ports handled 1.78 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. That was an increase of 9.6% from March. Still it was a decline of 21.3% year over year – reflecting the record cargo hauled in over the spike in consumer demand of 2021 and the inventory glut 2022.
In 2023, consumer spending is remaining resilient with in a strong job market, despite the collision of inflation and interest rates. The economy remains different from pre-pandemic days, but shipping volumes are beginning to once again resemble the time before COVID-19.
“Economists and shipping lines increasingly wonder why the decline in container import demand is so much at odds with continuous growth in consumer demand,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, in a statement. “Import container shipments have returned the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and appear likely to stay there for a while.”
Retailers and logistics professionals alike are looking to the second half of the year for a potential upswing. Peak shipping season occurs in the summer, which is in preparation for peak shopping season over the holidays.
Yet disruption could occur on the West Coast if labor issues can’t be settled. This week, ports from Los Angeles to Seattle reported closures and slowdowns as ongoing union disputes boil over, CNBC reported. NRF called on the Biden administration to intervene.
“Cargo volume is lower than last year but retailers are entering the busiest shipping season of the year bringing in holiday merchandise. The last thing retailers and other shippers need is ongoing disruption at the ports,” aid NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If labor and management can’t reach agreement and operate smoothly and efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to take their cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast gateways. We continue to urge the administration to step in and help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruptions so operations can return to normal. We’ve had enough unavoidable supply chain issues the past two years. This is not the time for one that can be avoided.”