22 November 2022
Funding for Manscaped & Casper, Estée Lauder acquires Tom Ford
Plus, new funding for an ecommerce SaaS aggregator and an gray hair prevention brand.
Plus, new funding for an ecommerce SaaS aggregator and an gray hair prevention brand.
Welcome to Dealboard. In this weekly feature, The Current is providing a look at the mergers, acquisitions and venture capital deals making waves in ecommerce, CPG and retail.
This week, digitally native brands Manscaped and Casper get cash infusions, while Tom Ford finds a home with Estée Lauder. Plus, new funding for an ecommerce SaaS aggregator, Better Trucks and a haircare formula addressing gray hair.
The Estée Lauder Companies announced an agreement to acquire Tom Ford for $2.3 billion, ending a long courtship that reportedly included a variety of suitors after the luxury brand put itself up for sale earlier this year.
The brands are familiar to each other, as Estée Lauder already owns the license for Tom Ford Beauty. The deal will also expand Tom Ford’s longstanding licensing deal with Italian luxury house Ermenegildo Zegna N.V. to include men’s and women’s fashion, accessories and underwear, with Zegna acquiring operations necessary for this licensee role. Tom Ford also has a license with eyewear brand Marcolin that will be extended.
Founder Tom Ford is set to remain with the brand as the “creative visionary” through the end of 2023, while Domenico De Sole will remain as a consultant through that time.
Dropshipping Direct, which manages over 1000 ecommerce stores for clients, acquired Empire Ecommerce. Terms were not disclosed.
The move will strengthen four-year-old Dropshipping Direct’s systems and customer base, while while simultaneously opening doors for new strategic partnerships. Through an automated system, Dropshipping Direct manages product sourcing, selling, buying, shipping and returns for sellers.
Manscaped, the male grooming brand, raised a Series B round co-led by Banner Ventures and Smash Ventures. Terms were not disclosed.
Since raising a Series A in 2020, the six-year-old brand has grown from $65 million in revenue to $300 million. This year, it signed on with celebrity partner Pete Davidson, and expanded its retail partnership with chains such as Walgreens.
“This new capital allows us to continue our trajectory and to accelerate our global omnichannel expansion and product development as we strengthen our position as the leading men's grooming and lifestyle brand,” said Paul Tran, Manscaped CEO, in a statement. "The investment also strategically strengthens our position as we ramp up for an exciting holiday season in 2022 and look forward to a robust product roadmap in 2023 and beyond.”
Side view of the breathable and ergnomic Casper mattress i… | Flickr (www.flickr.com)
Digitally native mattress brand Casper secured an $80 million credit facility that will provide working capital, and allow the company to retire an existing credit facility. The financing was arranged by Second Avenue Capital Partners, LLC, with support from Tiger Finance. It comes after Casper was taken private a year ago in an acquisition deal with Durational Capital Management earlier this year. The brand initially went public in February 2020.
Relay Commerce, which acquires ecommerce-focused SaaS businesses, raised $27 million in equity and debt funding, Axios reported.
The funding was led by Primary Venture Partners, Twelve Below, AlleyCorp, Max Ventures and TriplePoint Capital. It will be used to acquire more businesses, as the company seeks to apply the aggregator used to roll up ecommerce brands for software business.
“We’re building for the SMB ecommerce merchant that wants enterprise-grade functionality made accessible to the sorts of teams that wear many hats,” wrote CEO Ricardo Hinds. “We’re also pairing our team’s knowledge of scaling software businesses with our appetite for acquiring bootstrapped software businesses.”
So far, the company operates three software businesses: Fomo, Pop and SmartrMail.
Attabotics, a 3D robotics supply chain company, raised $71.7 million in a Series C-1 round. The financing was led by Export Development Canada, with participation from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board through Teachers’ Venture Growth.
The company condenses fulfillment warehouses into a single storage structure, with robotic shuttles called Attabots inside picking goods, and presenting them to workers outside. The aim is to allow warehouses to be located in densely-populated areas, where they will be closer to customers.
Better Trucks. (Courtesy photo)
Last-mile delivery carrier Better Trucks raised $15 million in a funding round led by Lobby Capital, with participation from Corazon Capital and Venture 53.
It’s the first outside investment for the company, which was founded by Andy Whiting and Weston Webb in 2019. Better Trucks provides next-day and same-day residential delivery, serving brands in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Texas, as well as delivery companies like ShipBob. WIth the funding, it is planning to double a coverage area that currently extends to 25 metro areas across 17 states, and invest in additional warehouse capacity. It will be hiring in technology, operations and corporate functions, as well as building a flexible driver workforce.
Zest, a platform that allows ecommerce brands to create a gifting model, raised $4.2 million in a seed round led by Google Ventures (GV). Participating in the funding were BoxGroup, Character, Operator Partners, Bungalow Capital and Company Ventures.
Zest’s platform places a “Send as a Gift” button on product or cart pages. Gifters can then choose to send a digital greeting card, add their own message and instantly deliver the gift to the recipient via text or email.
“The app not only makes the act of digital gifting easy and meaningful, but we go a step further and make it possible for brands to turn that purchase into a real relationship with recipients," said Alex Ingram, Zest's CEO, in a statement.
Arey. (Courtesy photo)
Arey, a haircare brand that sells through ecommerce, closed an oversubscribed seed round at $4.15M – well above its $2 million target. The round was led by Female Founders Fund and Greycroft.
Founded by Allison Conrad and Jay Small, Arey focuses on restoring gray hair, offering a supplement and hair serum known as The System that is available through one-time or subscription purchase. The brand saw 975% growth in subscription in the last year, making up over 70% of their revenue. The funding will assist with R&D and distribution expansion.
Here are a few more deals we spotted this week thanks to the reporting of Techcrunch:
Amazon cut another 18,000 jobs in late 2022.
Amazon is set to undergo a second round of layoffs in the coming weeks, bringing the total number of employees let go over the last six months to 27,000.
The latest round of cuts will reduce the number of roles at the company by 9,000.
The layoffs will zero in on several of the fast-growing, high-margin divisions that grew to become forces in their industry verticals after Amazon built them out to provide services for its ecommerce platform. Affected areas will include advertising, the cloud computing division AWS, the streaming platform Twitch and people ops division People Experience and Technology (PXT). Amazon did not break down the number of layoffs in each division.
In advertising, the cuts come in a division that has become a success story for the company. Amazon revealed a $31 billion advertising business in early 2022, meaning the division was larger than the advertising arms of media giants like YouTube on its own. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Amazon posted 19% growth in advertising as the business reached $11.6 billion in revenue.
While the ecommerce division, known internally as Stores, was not exposed in this round, it marks the second time that PXT will face cuts.
In a company memo, CEO Andy Jassy wrote that the additional layoffs follow the conclusion of Amazon’s annual planning process. The goal of this process, Jassy said, was “to be leaner while doing so in a way that enables us to still invest robustly in the key long-term customer experiences.”
“For several years leading up to this one, most of our businesses added a significant amount of headcount,” Jassy wrote. “This made sense given what was happening in our businesses and the economy as a whole. However, given the uncertain economy in which we reside, and the uncertainty that exists in the near future, we have chosen to be more streamlined in our costs and headcount.”
Jassy added that the additional round of cuts is expected to be completed by mid-to-late April. While companies often seek to avoid multiple rounds of layoffs in a short period of time, Jassy said the multipart process was a result of the planning calendar.
“Some may ask why we didn’t announce these role reductions with the ones we announced a couple months ago,” Jassy wrote. “The short answer is that not all of the teams were done with their analyses in the late fall; and rather than rush through these assessments without the appropriate diligence, we chose to share these decisions as we’ve made them so people had the information as soon as possible.”
Alongside the job cuts, Amazon has also scaled back on many expansion projects. Most recently, the company said it will close eight of its cashierless, in-person Amazon Go convenience stores.
While tech layoffs were a top story of late 2022, the cuts are continuing into 2023 as ecommerce faces continued headwinds on discretionary spending from inflation, and investors continue to turn cautious in an atmosphere of interest rate hikes and falling post-pandemic stock prices.
Among major companies in ecommerce, Facebook parent Meta said last week that it will lay off an additional 10,000 workers beyond the previously announced reduction of 11,000 workers in 2022, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg dubbed 2023 the “year of efficiency.” Meanwhile, SMS and email marketing automation platform Klaviyo laid off 140 people across all divisions last week, TechCrunch reported.
The cuts come after tech companies saw their fortunes soar during the pandemic, leading to a hiring frenzy.
Yet tech is proving to be an anomaly in the current economy. The labor market as a whole hasn’t cooled off coming out of the pandemic. U.S. companies, including retailers, continue to add jobs at a sizable clip, and unemployment remains at historic lows.