10 October 2022
Jay-Z leads round for pizza robots; Del Monte invests in blockchain
In this week's Dealboard, new funding for inclusive beauty and shoppable stories.
In this week's Dealboard, new funding for inclusive beauty and shoppable stories.
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, companies are raising funds to build an Amazon ecosystem, inclusive beauty brands and pizza robots (with support from Jay-Z). Plus, Walmart is acquiring a fulfillment robotics company.
Here’s a look at the latest deals:
Alert Innovation, an egrocery fulfillment automation company, is set to be acquired by Walmart.
Alert Innovation makes a system called Alphabot, which includes “patented omnidirectional robots in a temperature-controlled system for fresh, efficient, and high-quality grocery fulfillment,” the company said. It has worked with Walmart to develop technology for the retailer's market fulfillment centers since 2016. They piloted the retailer’s first MFC in Salem, New Hampshire, in 2019.
“Bringing the best of Alert’s technology and capabilities in-house will enable us to reach more customers quicker by deploying MFCs with greater speed, providing both an unmatched shopping experience and a competitive advantage in omnichannel fulfillment,” said David Guggina, Senior Vice President of Innovation and Automation at Walmart U.S., in a statement.
Alert Innovation will continue to operate under its own brand, with a team based in the Boston area. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Carbon6, a software suite for the Amazon marketplace, raised $66 million in a funding round that was a mixture of equity and venture debt.
The equity round, which is a Series A, was led by White Star Capital, with participation from Kale Investment Fund, Benevolent Capital and MidCap Financial. MidCap Financial, which is managed by Apollo Capital Management, L.P., also provided the venture debt financing.
The company is building a set of tools for ecommerce business management, including business intelligence, inventory management, and advertising solutions.
As it builds, the company has acquired 16 software companies in the 16 months ending September 2022.
With the funding, Carbon6 plans to expand marketplaces beyond Amazon, and open offices in Europe and Asia. The company plans to have more than 20 products by the first quarter of 2023.
“The Carbon6 experience goes beyond software,” said Justin Cobb, CEO of Carbon6, in a statement. “We’re developing the connective tissue that millions of sellers need to automate and accelerate their businesses, with the support of a broader network of entrepreneurs.”
Fresh Del Monte Produce acquired a 39% stake in Decapolis, a Jordanian and UK-based startup that provides blockchain-driven food safety and quality traceability for the food industry.
Along with the investment, the two companies plan to roll out Decapolis Food Guard, which is a blockchain-based traceability solution, across all Fresh Del Monte business units. It will begin with pineapple operations in Costa Rica. The technology harnesses QR codes to provide assessments at each stage of a product's journey, from planting to distribution. It is designed to offer trusted record keeping in the supply chain, which can have an impact on consumer knowledge, food safety or quality analysis.
“Now more than ever, consumers are very cognizant of what goes into their food. With this blockchain technology, they’ll know exactly what has gone into the product, and where it has traveled until the moment it was purchased for consumption," said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Fresh Del Monte CEO, in a statement.
Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
The Rounds, a refill and delivery service, raised $38 million in a Series A round, Techcrunch reported.
The financing was led by Redpoint Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Construct Capital and First Round Capital.
The Rounds keeps household, pantry and personal care essentials in stock for customers by delivering fresh goods, and picking up empty containers. Customers can adjust times based on their schedule, and text back and forth with the company’s system. Customers can also access The Rounds website to shop SKUs from various brands, as well as local businesses.
Deliveries are made by a “Rounder” that rides an ebike with a trailer affixed to it, carrying multiple orders.
"We’re building what we believe to be the future of last-mile logistics,” CEO Alex Torrey told Techcrunch.
Stellar Pizza, a company developing delivery trucks equipped with pizza-making robots, raised $16.5 million in a Series A round, Bloomberg reported.
The financing was led by Marcy Venture Partners, the venture firm of hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.
Founded in 2019 by former SpaceX engineers, Stellar is developing a system that allows a customer to order a pizza via app, and have the pizza baked by a robot. The pizza is then delivered by a driver. Bloomberg reports that it will take less than five minutes to make a pizza when the company's system is complete.
TLB, an inclusive beauty company, raised $6.7 million in an oversubscribed investment round.
The round was led by Pendulum, an investing and advisory platform for founders and leaders of color. The Fearless Fund and Endeavor also participated.
Launched in 2012 by CEO Melissa Butler as a result of frustrations with the beauty industry’s lack of diversity, TLB operates two brands: The Lip Bar, a 10-year–old vegan, cruelty free and non-toxic beauty brand, and thread beauty, a gender-neutral, Gen Z-focused, BIPOC beauty brand that launched recently. The brands are sold in 1,000 stores, including Target and Walmart.
“We plan on growing our team and improving our ability to better service the needs of our consumers across different divisions, because we understand how experience and expertise can spur growth quickly. We also plan to continue to drive our innovation forward to create beauty solutions that allow everyone to experience easy, effortless, essentials that empower confidence.” said Butler, in a statement.
Kahani, a mobile-first storytelling platform, raised $3.5 million in seed funding, Techcrunch reported.
Nextview Ventures and Sugar Capital, led the round, with participation from a group of angel investors.
The company was founded by Jesse Pujji, an entrepreneur who also founded Gateway X, Ampush and GrowthAssistant, and is a noted voice on Twitter for honest looks at building startups, among other topics.
Kahani aims to bring more dynamic shoppable content to ecommerce websites. Here's how Techcrunch described the product:
Kahani’s first product is a “Stories-like” feature, for example, which shows clothes being worn and the model turning around and showing how it fits “live” versus static images of the front and back views.
Merchants can begin using the product with a two-line code snippet and Kahani’s self-serve content management system that enables merchants to change around photos and videos or set up the system to automatically pull top sellers into a “story” on the website.
Clients include Tovala, SimpleModern and Hayden Girls. The company will use the funding to invest in engineering, marketing and R&D.
Walmart DSP and Sam's Club are applying first-party data to enhance creative and measurement for advertisers.
At its core, retail media is designed to provide advertising within an ecommerce marketplace. But as this nascent area develops, it is quickly expanding beyond the retailer’s website.
This week, two entities under the Walmart Inc. umbrella announced new capabilities that illustrate where retail media can play a role in CTV and in-store sales.
Let’s take a look:
Advertising that appears on a website doesn’t only have the potential to drive online sales. It can also help to propel sales at stores.
A new capability announced this week by Sam’s Club is offering a way to measure across both channels.
The membership club announced that in-store sales can now be attributed to search ads that appear on its ecommerce site.
Sam’s Club said its Member Access Platform will use first-party data on member transactions to determine the revenue that is generated by particular search and sponsored product ads, including for purchases made in a store.
In media measurement, attribution is sought by advertisers as they seek to determine the effectiveness of a given ad or campaign, and where to direct spend in hopes of reaching more consumers. But if an ad in one place leads to a sale in another, it adds complexity to the task of assigning credit for a sale. That’s especially true of offline sales, since there is often less information on the behavior that leads up to the store-based purchase available.
“There’s a huge group of our members who see a search ad online or on their phone when shopping but purchase the product in-club. Previously, it was not possible for our advertisers to connect the in-club purchase to their online ads to know what drove sales,” said Tim Simmons, senior vice president and chief product officer, Sam’s Club, in a statement. “With our new attribution model, advertisers can understand what’s motivating purchases across all channels accurately, especially for search ads.”
With this addition, Sam’s Club said it can now offer “true closed-loop measurement” that crosses online and offline sales. The retailer said overall ROAS has increased by nearly 30% for advertisers that have added in-store sales attribution.
The new offering illustrates how digital commerce is driving both online and offline sales. Media must continue to evolve along with shopper behavior.
Alongside retail media, another fast-growing area of digital advertising is media that appears on streaming services, which is known as CTV (Connected TV). A new partnership shows there are opportunities for the first-party data that powers retail media to serve as a bridge between the store where they shop and the couch where they watch TV.
Walmart’s media arm will work with Innovid to make more personalized creative for CTV available for advertisers through the retailer’s demand side platform.
Innovid will provide “creative personalization, optimization and interactive experiences,” as well as offer ad delivery services.
The integration of Innovid’s Dynamic Creative Optimization technology is designed to improve “relevance and effectiveness” of CTV ad creative that is available on Walmart DSP, which is powered by The Trade Desk..
"Through Walmart DSP, marketers can more effectively reach Walmart's millions of customers across inventory, optimize their media spend, and connect with consumers on highly sought-after platforms like CTV and beyond," said Krista Panoff, SVP of global enterprise development at Innovid.
The partnership will allow advertisers to tap first-party data from Walmart, and apply it to campaigns that reach customers on channels and platforms beyond the retailer’s properties. Walmart DSP provides measurement that crosses both online and offline channels, the retailer added.
This is the second announcement in as many weeks that shows how first-party data from retail media can be applied to enhance CTV. Best Buy and Roku recently announced a partnership that will put the electronic retailer’s first-party data to work for targeting and measurement on Roku streaming devices.
As advertisers seek new ways to efficiently and effectively reach customers on a web that is moving beyond third-party tools and cookies, the partnerships underscore how retailers are in a prime position to provide the purchase-level data that can help to provide results.