Operations

Composable commerce, resale and taxonomy gain investor backing

In this week's Dealboard, acquisition news from Walmart, eBay and Farfetch.

Composable commerce, resale and taxonomy gain investor backing

(Illustration 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, retail and CPG landscape.

This week, luxury ecommerce platforms are set to come together, Shopify invests in a web3 infrastructure startup and Walmart flexes muscle in South Africa ahead of Amazon’s expansion. Plus, new funding for customer-centered taxonomy, composable commerce and white-label resale.

Here’s a look at the latest deals:

Funding

Sowmiya Chocka Narayanan and Purva Gupta

Lily AI cofounders Sowmiya Chocka Narayanan (CTO) and Purva Gupta (CEO) (Courtesy photo)

Lily AI, a product attributes platform for retailers, raised $25 million in a Series B round. Investors included Canaan Partners, Conductive Ventures, Sorenson Ventures and NEA. Using image recognition, Lily AI adjusts how products are presented and categorized across commerce sites to create a “customer-centered product taxonomy.” This impacts search, demand forecasting, product recommendations, SEO/SEM and merchandise planning. Currently serving clients including Bloomingdale's, The Gap, Macy's and thredUP, Lily is looking to expand its work with brands in home, beauty and fashion.

Shopify was among the investors in a $24 million funding round for ThirdWeb, a developer platform for building Web3 and NFT apps. The round was led by Haun Ventures, with additional participation from Coinbase Ventures, Protocol Labs, Polygon, Shrug VC, Joseph Lacob and others. The company says it is building the “infrastructure layer for Web3,” offering a full-stack web development kit to speed the creation of new apps across popular blockchains.

Trip, a CBD beverage brand, raised $12 million from a group of investors that included former Depop CEO Maria Raga. Founded in 2019 by husband-and-wife team Daniel Khoury and Olivia Ferdi, the UK-based brand has become a viral hit and expanded distribution to 11,000 retail locations. It is seeking to expand its retail presence in the US through partnerships with Soho House & Co. and the LA grocer Erewhon.

Reflaunt, which provides white label resale services to fashion brands, raised $11 million in a Series A funding round. The round was led by Ventech China, Global Blue and Bombyx Capital Partners AG, with participation from Swarovski Creative Director Giovanna Battaglia, America’s Madaluxe Group, Italy’s Piquadro and TLF Ventures, Fashion United reported. The company’s technology is designed to allow consumers to resell items without leaving the brand or retailer’s website. It is used by Harvey Nichols, Mr Porter and The Outnet.

Myplanet, a consultancy specializing in composable commerce, raised $11 million from cloud-focused investment firm Tercera. Composable commerce describes an approach to building an ecommerce stack where developers choose technologies from different vendors, which are deployed through APIs. Myplanet, which has worked with New Balance, UNTUCKit and Google, plans to develop new accelerators that help retailers speed the transition to composable commerce, and grow its team.

Tradeblock, a sneaker trading platform, raised $8.9 million in seed II funding from investors including Courtside VC, Trinity Ventures and Concrete Rose Capital. This was a rolling close, and the company expects another $4.5 million by the round's completion. Tradeblock is a marketplace for sneaker collectors that aims to increase access to the resale market. Launched in 2020, it had one million shoes listed on virtual closets in the last year. Following the funding, it plans to expand authentication, logistics and data science capabilities.

VIAVIA, the maker of a video-first ecommerce platform, raised $8 million in new funding. The Series A round was co-led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Basis Set Ventures, with participation from Exor Seeds, Backend Ventures, and Andrew Ng's AI Fund. With a focus on fashion ecommerce, VIAVIA is building capabilities to marry live and short-form video content with AI. It will also provide infrastructure for brands that is designed to increase order flow to local manufacturers.

“I am particularly fascinated by the role technology has played in 'exporting' content and commerce trends—we've seen this with TikTok in how Gen Z engages with social media and Viavia is poised to inspire the same behavioral change in the ecommerce space,” said Carmen Chang, a general partner at NEA who is head of the firm’s head of Asia, in a news release.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Inside a Massmart. (Courtesy photo)

Walmart has a proposal on the table to take South African retailer Massmart private in a deal valued at $377.6 million. Under an agreement in principle announced on Monday, Walmart would buy out the shares of Massmart it does not already own at a 53% premium on the company’s closing share price on August 26. Additionally, Massmart would be delisted on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Walmart also announced that Massmart COO Jonathan Molapo will move to the CEO role, succeeding Mitchell Slape. The news comes as Amazon is making moves to expand in South Africa, Bloomberg reports.

“We’ve been working hard to build our ecommerce business over the last few years,” Slape said on Monday. “We think we’ll have a very competitive, very interesting offer for our consumers and you’ll see more of that in the coming months.”

Farfetch is in a position to acquire competing luxury ecommerce platform Yoox Net a Porter following a deal to buy out a significant stake from Richemont. Under the terms of the agreement, Farfetch acquired a 47.5% stake in YNAP from Richemont, while an investment vehicle of Mohamed Alabbar, an Emiraiti businessman who was behind the development of Dubai, acquired a 3.2% stake. Under the deal, YNAP and Richemont, which owns labels such as Cartier, will also use Farfetch’s ecommerce technology, called Farfetch Platform Solutions. While Richemont takes a $2.7 billion write-down, the deal leaves open the potential for Farfetch to acquire 100% of YNAP going forward. The deal values YNAP at 1 billion euros, which is less than the 5 billion euros it purchased the platform for in 2018. Richemont chairman Johann Rupert called the agreement a significant step toward “building an independent, neutral online platform for the luxury industry that would be highly attractive to both luxury brands and their discerning clientele.”

Noon, an ecommerce marketplace backed in part of by Alabbar, is set to acquire the fashion-focused company Namshi from Emaar Properties, a firm that was founded by Alabbar. The deal was valued at $335.2 million, Reuters reported.

eBay acquired myFitment, an ecommerce platform serving sellers automotive and powersports parts and accessories. In particular, myFitment’s tools optimize listings for fit, so that customers order the right parts for a vehicle. The addition of this tool will help eBay grow its parts and accessories category, which has 500 million parts and accessories globally, the company said. It follows recent acquisitions by eBay of NFT marketplace KnownOrigin and trading card platform TCGplayer. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Customer.io, a customer engagement platform, acquired email code editing platform Parcel. With the deal, Parcel’s tools will be available within Customer.io’s platform. At the same time, Parcel will remain a standalone product.

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