Oh You Fancy Huh?
Earlier today, New York City startup The Fancy* emailed Betabeat to let us know that “One of our favorite users stopped by the office today :).” Oh, yes we’d noticed. And retweeted.
We’ve documented Kanye West’s interest in The Fancy–a fast-growing startup that turns posted photos into a consumerist’s dream–before. But what exactly was Yeezy doing palling around the office?
Oh You Fancy Huh?
The popular iPad reading app Flipboard just announced integration with Google+, the latest service on top of Facebook, Twitter, Readability, SoundCloud, LinkedIn, and others that plug in to create the dynamic, customized digital magazine. But while the news tasted sweet to Flipboard, it was sour for one of Flipboard’s prospective partners: The Fancy, the social photo sharing and shopping app that is one of New York’s rising stars.
Betabeat obtained what appear to be screenshots from The Fancy for Flipboard, which has not been released. Flipboard allegedly commissioned the app in January, according to a source, and would have been The Fancy’s first API customer. The source speculated that Flipboard prioritized its Pinterest integration first. (Pinterest is a The Fancy competitor.)
Flipboard may still be planning to introduce The Fancy integration. We’ve reached out to Fancy and Flipboard for comment and will update if we hear back. (UPDATE: Joe Einhorn of The Fancy declined to comment on Flipboard, but he said The Fancy does have an API and is working with partners. Said Flipboard: “We think the Fancy is doing great work and hope to work with them at some time. We are heads down right now with several new additions to Flipboard.”) In the meantime, check out what The Fancy on Flipboard would have, or will eventually, look like.
The last time we checked in with social commerce startup Fancy was back in February, around the time Kanye West tweeted out his approval for “My friend Joseph’s site.” The Joseph in question is ThingD founder Joe Einhorn, the wunderkind entrepreneur trying to create “the Facebook of stuff” as Ben Popper wrote in a profile of Mr. Einhorn in The Observer in 2010. (Somewhere along the way, The Fancy opted to drop the “The.”)
Like Pinterest, Fancy is focused on discovering and collecting images of things. Unlike Pinterest, which relies on affiliate marketing links, anything on Fancy can be bought. You “fancy” a thing and Fancy lets brands and retailers sign up to sell that item on the site. That photo of the Eiffel Tower, for example, comes attached to a deal for hotel nights in Paris.
Oh You Fancy Huh?
With more than 11 million users Pinterest is the current King Kong of sites featuring curated collections of images of doilies and Quaker-style furniture (among many other things). The Fancy may have trumped Pinterest in one respect–businesses can profit directly from items posted on the site. This differs from the current model used by Pinterest which monetizes content through affiliate links:
Merchants need to claim items already posted on the Fancy site in order to sell there. Right now, the startup will only accept one merchant per item. Eventually, like Google, it will list many merchants who sell an item. If no merchant claims an item, users still need to travel to a third-party site in order to make the purchase.
Joe Einhorn launched The Fancy in 2011. High profile backers include Ashton Kutcher and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey sits on its board. Until today, though, it was a lesser-known Pinterest competitor and like that site unprofitable. Business Insider, however, says The Fancy’s users are “highly engaged” and the site is more “male-focused” than Pinterest.
When we first wrote about Joe Einhorn’s company, thingd, it was mostly flying below the radar, and surprised the blogosphere with its all star cast of investors and board members. This week, Betabeat has learned, Mr. Einhorn will be surprising the NY tech scene a second time. The Fancy, one of the consumer facing projects under the thingd umbrella, has secured a $10 million round of financing at a valuation north of $100 million.
Interestingly, the big bucks don’t come from a typical venture investor, but from a new lead investor PPR, the $16 billion French multi-national run by Francois Henri-Pinault, which owns the globe’s biggest fashion brands, including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga. PPR has earned a reputation for its smart, aggressive acquisition strategy and saw its stock jump after an impressive third quarter, but is little known in the tech world.