Kickstart or Kill
Those of you in the throes of a flash sale addiction might’ve noted a snazzy little pen that popped up on Fab.com yesterday. However, it might have looked a little familiar. The design blog Notcot points out that the Torr Pen, with its distinctive ruler sleeve, looked an awful lot like the Pen Type-A, an overfunded Kickstarter project that’s faced many a manufacturing-related trial over the last year.
Fab, it turns out, did not find this fabulous. The sale has been yanked from the site.
Life in the Fab Lane
The Reddit AMA (or “ask me anything”) is a free-for-all question and answer session where big names duke it out with anonymous users masked by handles like “testees_testees_123.” It can be delightfully informative, but also delightfully weird. Some even morph into uncomfortable grilling sessions, as was the case with Woody Harrelson’s AMA, which quickly devolved into a game of rape accusations.
Fab CEO Jason Goldberg took to Reddit yesterday for an AMA following the news that the company had raised $105 million, and while his experience wasn’t nearly as torturous as Mr. Harrelson’s, Redditors certainly didn’t cut him any slack.
A scant seven months after Andreessen Horowitz “plowed” $40 million into Fab at a $200 million valuation, the pivot-happy flash sales site for design items just announced a massive Series C. The company closed a $105 million round led by Atomico, an international investment firm out of London run by Skype cofounder Niklas Zennström. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, says the new round values Fab at $600 million.
Yes, folks, that’s a 200 percent jump in valuation in seven months. We bet even Fab doesn’t sell a sleek-enough vessel to hold all that (theoretical) dough.
In a press release, Fab said ru-Net Technology Partners (RTP), the international fund backed by Russian billionaire Leonid Boguslavsky–with an office in New York City!–also participated. As did Palo Alto’s Pinnacle Ventures and DoCoMo Capital and Mayfield Fund. (It’s worth noting that Mayfield previously backed another flash sales venture, the troubled startup BuyWithMe, which was acquired by Gilt Groupe, the mother of flash sales sites, after major layoffs. Gilt Groupe, of course, later faced its own brutal round of layoffs.) Existing investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Baroda Ventures also participated.
Naughty By Nature
Fab.com’s single bestselling product of all time? It’s not a pair of earrings, or a clever little teapot, or a framed poster about typography. According to CCO Bradford Shellhammer, speaking onstage at this morning’s session of Le Web in London, it’s a vibrator. Not only that, the site has sold “thousands and thousands” of vibrators–maybe even tens of thousands, he said. That’s a whole lot of sex toys.
Michael Arrington looked a little poleaxed and followed up by sharing that little data point on Twitter. Business Insider seemed even more flustered. “We’re not sure why” a vibrator would be so popular, the blog wrote through pursed lips. “Could be part of Fab’s former self shining through,” pointing to the site’s origins as a “Groupon-like startup with deals for the gay community.”
Frankly, we’re perplexed by all the prudishness. This is the same planet clamoring for 50 Shades of Grey, right?
Fab took another step toward design-savvy world domination today, with the announcement that the company has acquired the British Isles’ own Llustre, which will become Fab UK. The move follows the February purchase of Casacanda and relaunch as Fab.de.
In a statement released this morning, Mr. Goldberg also announced that Maria Molland, previously of Thomson Reuters, will now be Chief European Officer for Fab, a role which is clearly on a growth track.
Shortly after the news broke this morning, CEO Jason Goldberg and CCO Bradford Shellhammer appeared across the pond at Le Web, where they were grilled good-naturedly by Mike Arrington about the announcement. Curious to know more about the team’s U.K. plans, we caught the talk via livestream.
Most of all, Mr. Arrington wanted to know why Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Shellhammer decided to buy “a clone” rather than “crushing” Llustre. The Fab.com certainly hadn’t responded well to the existence of the Samwer brothers’ copycat Bamarang; why give quarter to this company?
Fab.com got its latest revamp this morning, introducing a host of snazzy new social features. We hope your Facebook friends have good taste.
Fab CEO Jason Goldberg walked us through the changes via phone, boiling them down to improving the product discovery experience. Though the site adds new features regularly, the changes going live today are the first big revamp in “quite a decent amount of time,” says Mr. Goldberg. “There’s a hundred-plus new enhancements.” He explained that it’s all “about how do you help people discover stuff better than just throwing up a catalog.”
the startup rundown
PERFECT TEN. Last Wednesday Time Inc. brought together editors from many of their news properties to bestow upon us the “10 NYC Startups to Watch.” Only in the startup picking game since lat year’s Internet Week, Time Inc. has already picked winners like GroupMe, which was purchased by Skype for a supposed $85 milion.
The startups that made the cut for 2012 are Adaptly, a social advertising platform; Art.sy, the Pandora of art; Codeacademy, an interactive self-paced tool to learn to code; Enterproid, a mobile platform to segregate work from personal information on a single mobile device; Fab—you already know what Fab does; Fancy Hands, a provider of virtual personal assistants; Loosecubes, a matchmaker for workers and workspaces SideTour; a community marketplace for booking and hosting adventures, Stamped; a five-star-only mobile rating app and Truth Art Beauty; an online platform where users can custom-create skincare blends.
FOUNDER POWER. This Friday Women 2.0 is hosting their New York Founder Friday at 16 East 34th Street. Featured founders Cheryl Yeoh of CityPockets and Eloise Bune of GraciousEloise will begin speaking at 7 p.m. but the event will kick off at 6 p.m. with an introduction by Matt Wolfrom of Makovsky and Company, the event’s sponsor. Founder Friday is free, and open to people of all genders, unlike the LOL-inducing “Jews against the Internet” rally, which is $10 and closed to women. Unfortunately, Founder Friday is already at capacity. Add your name to the wait list and cross your fingers.
RALLY IN THE ALLEY. The Association for a Better New York Foundation and Mayor Bloomberg honored the city’s technology leaders in Union Square last Thursday including Foursquare cofounder Dennis Crowley, Greycroft’s Alan Patricof, ideeli CEO Paul Hurley and NYTM cofounder Dawn Barber. The Lew Rudin Founder’s Award went to New York City deputy mayor for economic development Robert Steel.
Another month, another milestone for master pivoter Jason Goldberg and his go-go daily deals for design startup, Fab. Today, the company announced that it has acquired Casacanda, a Berlin-based flash sales company. Along with the acquisition, Casacanda will relaunch as as Fab.de, serving Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Last November ccTLDInvestors, “the online magazine for global domain investors” noted that a company called Sedo made a tidy profit by selling Fab.de for $50,000. That same week, Fab also purchased Fab.eu for 35,000 Euros, so expect more updates for Fab’s fabulous European adventure.
According to Mr. Goldberg, Casacanda has been on something of a roll. The site has 250,000 members and grew by 90,000 in just the last 30 days. Add that to Fab’s existing membership, and the company has won over more than 2.3 million users in the past 8 months.
Fab.com is New York’s fast-growing, revenue-generating “it startup” of the moment, a company that landed the rare double-pivot with a design-centric members-only flash sales site. It’s doing well and its business model is simple, so of course the fast followers have started to spring up; no less than seven copycats in the last month, says Fab founder Jason Goldberg.
The surging startup Fab is spending some of the $40 million in funding it just booked. Today Fab announced that it’s acquiring New York based startup Fashion Stake as it looks to expand its focus on its best selling category, clothing. FashionStake’s co-founders Vivian Weng and Daniel Gulati will join Fab, but beyond that terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“They are super well respected with the kind of independent designers we want to feature on Fab, so having their industry connections will be a great help,” said Fab CEO Jason Goldberg. The Fashion Stake site will fold and become part of Fab.com. But Mr. Goldberg said that they may look to incoporate elements of the company, like their crowdsourced model for voting on items to see which goes on sale.