Life in the Fab Lane

Bye Bye Bradford: Fab Cofounder Leaves His Day-to-Day Role

"Fab is at a point in its history where I’ve decided to walk away from the day to day."

SMILE! (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)

SMILE! (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)

Another change at Fab: Forbes reports that Bradford Shellhammer, the company’s character of a cofounder, is leaving his day-to-day role as chief designer. He’ll become a non-executive advisor.

Mr. Shellhammer sang a chipper tune on his way out the door, though. “Founding Fab was something I made in this world. And I am so very proud of that,” he wrote in a valedictory blog post, continuing:

“I am also someone who has an explorer’s heart. And I don’t sit still. And I want to make other things in this world. And Fab is at a point in its history where I’ve decided to walk away from the day to day.”

If he got de-foundered, he’s certainly taking it well. A Fab spokesperson told Betabeat, “The passion, knowledge, and relationships that Bradford instilled in Fab at the beginning are still a core part of our DNA that we will keep alive and build upon as the company grows and executes on our mission of brightening peoples’ lives with design.”

But of course, it’s hard not to interpret this in terms of the changing face of Fab as the company pivots from daily deals to grander ambitions. It’s not particularly unusual for the cofounder who isn’t CEO to bail at some point. But Mr. Goldberg has long said that Fab is basically his attempt to bring Mr. Shellhammer’s eye for design to the rest of the world. Here’s how a recent Fast Company profile portrays the company’s birth:

Once Goldberg realized Fabulis would be a dud, he hit upon the idea of bottling and selling Shellhammer’s curatorial flair. “Everyone I know wants you to help them design their life, the stuff in their life,” Goldberg recalls telling Shellhammer over a boozy dinner two and a half years ago. “What if we built a website around you, bringing your taste to the rest of the world?”

That’s got be a little tough to square with Mr. Goldberg’s sky-high goals though. He says he wants Fab to be a company on par with Amazon–but with better taste, pioneering a new kind of “emotional commerce.” How are you supposed to scale a single person’s taste?

It’s also worth mulling this rather charged quote from that same Fast Company piece. COO Beth Ferreira on Mr. Shellhammer:

“Bradford is just so free with his thoughts and opinions. The question is, What will his long-term role be in the company? He’s such an asset from the creative standpoint. Will the company be better served with him focusing only on that?”

Fab doesn’t want you to see this move as a sign of trouble, though. The spokesperson also informed us that, “This is a natural point in the Company’s evolution for Bradford to pursue new adventures. Bradford remains a shareholder in Fab and is as committed to its success as anyone else who is in the office there everyday.”

*The original headline of this post suggested that Mr. Shellhammer was leaving the company; in fact he’s just leaving his day-to-day role and will remain an advisor. 

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com