SmartBargains, a B2C firm, gets big funding

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“SmartBargains, an online shopping site that features discounted brand name merchandise, said it secured $33 million in its first round of funding, led by Highland Capital Partners. Other investors include America Online, Berkshire Partners, Dorset Capital, General Catalyst, Madison Dearborn, and the Gordon Brothers Group.”

You thought B2C was dead? The biggest reason failed was not usability (though it helped) but its pricing policy, because no one buys clothes full price these days. The big brands allowed Boo to sell their wares only if they didn’t discount them, in order to protect their existing channels. They only protected themselves from actually selling anything (at least they managed to avoid channel conflict). There’s only so much .com hip youngsters with more money than brains.

June 2016 pulse check: the site is somehow still up and running, after quite a roller coaster and news of its death years ago:

  1. 2004 – Filed for IPO
  2. 2005 – Withdrew IPO
  3. 2008 – Sale to Rue La La owner Retail Convergence
  4. 2009 – Roll-up into GSI Commerce
  5. 2011 – Acquisition of GSI by eBay for $2.4B, but eBay was to divest 70% of Rue La La. This became a firm known as Kynetic LLC
  6. 2012 – News reports of plans to shut down SmartBargains
  7. 2013 – Renaming of the GSI business unit (now separate from the Rue La La folks, but it’s fun to keep track of how these deals work out) as eBay Enterprise, sold in 2013 to private equity for $925M, then split into 4 parts in 2015

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