All posts in “e-commerce”

Salesforce will acquire enterprise e-commerce software startup CloudCraze

Salesforce is set to buy CloudCraze, an enterprise e-commerce solution built on its cloud-based customer relationship management platform. Based in Chicago, CloudCraze announced on its site that it’s signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Salesforce. The deal’s financial details were not disclosed.

According to Crunchbase, CloudCraze received $30.6 million in funding, including a $20 million round in 2017 that included participation from Salesforce Ventures (the company’s strategic investment arm) and Insight Venture Partners.

In CloudCraze’s announcement, its president and chief customer officer Ray Grady wrote “The B2B commerce industry is expected to grow from $889 billion today to $1.2 trillion by 2012, and capturing this opportunity has never been more important for businesses. With the addition of CloudCraze to the Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Salesforce and its customers can now take advantage of this shift to digital commerce, enabling business buyers to browse and purchase online as easily as consumers shop today.”

After an acquisition spree in 2016, when it bought more than twelve companies, Salesforce took a break last year. CloudCraze is the second Salesforce acquisition to be announced so far this year (following Attic Labs in January). It’s still too early to tell if Salesforce plans to ramp up its purchases again this year, but the company has set some extremely ambitious revenue goals and one way it can reach those targets is by snapping up high-growth startups.

Featured Image: jnhphoto/Getty Images

Meet Lumi, the Los Angeles startup that just raised $9 million for a packaging business

It’s not every chief executive who wakes up in the morning to a view of their office door across the parking lot from the Airstream trailer they call home, but Jesse Genet isn’t every CEO.

Genet is the co-founder and chief executive of Lumi, a Los Angeles-based startup that supplies the packaging for some of the top e-commerce companies that have launched with direct-to-consumer businesses. If you, gentle reader, have ever received a box from FabFitFun, BarkBox, MeUndies or Parachute Home, then you’ve touched some of Genet’s products.

Alongside co-founder and longtime partner Stephan Ango, Genet has built a business with Lumi that’s already been profitable, and has just raised $9 million in venture funding to boost its growth.

Genet has built a business on improving the efficiency and aesthetics of some of venture capital’s best-known retail businesses, and living close to the office in an Airstream just fits with that philosophy. As does her office position, up front in an open desk by the company’s front door.

The pickup-truck-driving Detroit-born entrepreneur first began thinking about the packaging business with her partner, Ango, while they were working on their first business together — selling a sunlight-activated fabric dye called Inkodye.

A lot of what we learned was related to making custom packaging,” says Genet. “Stefan and I spent four and a half years launching a product that needed it’s own packaging… We learned a lot of the pain points that our customers experience [now]. We were living them for four and a half years running that first company.”

In fact, it was about year three years into the Inkodye business that the two launched Lumi — and from the beginning, Genet and Ango knew that it would be their main project going forward.

Lumi co-founders Stephan Ango and Jesse Genet

Genet and Ango both believe that when companies these days launch products, they should focus on what makes them unique — be that swimwear, underwear, candy or curating boxes of makeups and soaps or dog toys — they shouldn’t have to worry about the logistics of packaging.

Like many industries, Genet and Ango are moving packaging toward a services model, transforming it from something that either retailers had to own to manage the experience or they left in the hands of shipping companies that didn’t optimize for a good customer experience.

As Ango wrote in his blog post announcing the company’s funding:

The magic behind Lumi is networked manufacturing, i.e. bringing factories online. Instead of managing communications with individual suppliers for each item, the Lumi Dashboard centralizes this process. Each item is abstracted into specifications and the best factory for each job is picked based on criteria for cost, quality and lead time. Our extensive network of factories allows us to locate manufacturing within 50 miles of almost any distribution center in the United States. If fulfillment moves to a different part of the country, production can be quickly re-located near the new distribution center.

Lumi’s service provides a dashboard to manage custom-printed boxes, tape, packing slips — anything that a retail business might need to ship its goods to its customers.

The company, which is always on the lips of Los Angeles investors as one of the strongest in the city’s current crop of startups, was able to attract top-tier investors to back its growth.

Its new $9 million financing was led by Spark Capital, alongside the premier retail-focused investment firm, Forerunner Ventures (which has racked up billion-dollar exits in both Dollar Shave Club and, along with a host of e-commerce companies like Birchbox, Bonobos, Glossier, Hotel Tonight, Warby Parker and Outdoor Voices). Previous investors Homebrew Ventures also participated. Homebrew, Lowercase Ventures and Ludlow Ventures provided seed funding for the company.

“Lumi helps e-commerce companies produce custom packaging by bringing simplicity to something that is very complex: what machine in what factory in what part of the world would be best to make this box, the wrapping, marketing inserts, etc.?,” wrote Spark Capital general partner Kevin Thau in a blog post explaining his firm’s investment.

Some examples of Lumi’s packaging

Some of the new money will be used to set up a prototyping lab in Los Angeles, as well as to invest further in software development at the 30-person company.

For a company that started out as a toolkit for creators to customize anything, the journey deep into the heart of how to make and outsource packaging for online retailers has been a long — if not strange — trip.

“We were talking about how companies brand themselves and source things to brand themselves,” says Genet. “We landed on packaging not because ‘Whoa, you know where a huge market is’ but because our customers were dealing with this struggle.”

So far the company has launched 18,000 projects and shipped 25 million units of packaging items.

“We have much bigger customers who are ordering tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands units of things,” Ango tells me.

Here are some examples of Lumi’s handiwork.

And for a company that spends its time making packaging, Lumi’s founders are also thinking pretty deeply on how to make packaging more sustainable.

Lumi focuses on what Genet calls “sustainability by default.” The company geolocates its production to be as close as possible to an e-commerce company’s distribution center.

Simply by doing that, the company makes the process many hundreds of times more sustainable. “When they onboard with Lumi and we’re making their boxes 30 miles away… you’ve reduced thousands and thousands of transit miles,” Genet says, which dramatically reduces emissions and fuel consumption.

Ultimately, Lumi  wants to make managing packaging at an e-commerce company easier and more sustainable… services most online retailers are is hoping they can deliver.

Overstock’s CEO launches new trading platform and token, tZero

Few mainstream business leaders have taken to the blockchain quite like Patrick Byrne. The founder of has been accepting Bitcoin since 2014 and has been talking about disrupting the payments world with transparent, low-cost, and sane blockchain-based systems. With tZero, he just started his roll toward full blockchain adoption.

TZero, at its core, is a SEC-regulated alternative trading system (ATS). Rather than depending on broker dealers to buy and sell securities, tZero works, in theory, like money sender Transferwise by matching buyers and sellers in a dark pool. The goal is to create an alternative to the NASDAQ with a ledger that is open, transparent, and immutable.

“I think it’s a historic event. We’re opening a new type of capital market,” Byrne told Coindesk.

Byrne said the company was also launching a token sale to help seed the platform. The tokens, like poker chips, will be used to buy and sell on the platform and Byrne said the pre-sale is vastly oversubscribed.

Byrne is convinced that this is the future. He is selling the Overstock retail business and will focus primarily on tZero and a new partnership, De Soto Inc., aimed at bringing millions around the world out of poverty by digitizing the informal ledgers used by those outside of traditional banking and business ecosystems.

TZero is the first SEC regulated crypto ATS to see the light of day and Byrne wants to reduce the bad actors and bag actions traditionally associated with cryptocurrency in general and token sales in particular. The company will only sell initial tokens to accredited investors or offshore buyers but they expect to offer public sales as well.

Featured Image: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon’s latest Echos show the smart home space hitting its stride

Amazon’s Echo lineup got a refresh earlier this year that included a brand new version of its basic Echo, well as an Echo Plus with integrated smart home hub, and the stalwart Echo Dot – unchanged, but still a compelling device at its price point.

The new lineup of devices also made its way to more markets this year, including an expansion to Canada just this month, which is why I now have a host of Echo hardware kitting out my apartment. The major accomplishment of this refresh, I think, is that it feels less like a new generation of gadget, and more like a coming of age for a modern-day appliance – a whole new category of must-have home furnishings.

Amazon clearly wants to encourage this impression – the new Amazon Echo comes in a host of fabric-covered finishes, and it’s hard to imagine the upholstery look’s connection to furnishings is unintentional. Part of it is about fitting into the decor so that these smart speakers can stand free and clear and unhidden on shelves, tables and surfaces without offending any sensibilities. But it’s also about turning a gadget into something far more approachable, and far more mainstream.

As far as I’m concerned, Amazon has accomplished its task. The Echo (and Echo Plus, and Echo Dot), have all become as key a home device as a light switch, or a couch, or a microwave. The latest generation just firms up that presence with needed improvements in key areas, including in sound reproduction (the new Echo is better than its predecessor, for sure, and the Echo Plus seems to sound a bit better as well despite having apparently similar hardware).

I now use the Echos around the house to control my Hue lights (I don’t remember the last time I flicked a switch), turn on and control the home theater system, check and change the temperature using my Nest thermostat, check news and weather and set kitchen timers. It’s second-nature at this point, and doing the same things, the old, manual way feels hopelessly backwards – even if the actual convenience difference is arguably trivial.

Aspects of the new Echo lineup are questionable, like the integrated smart home hub in the Echo Plus which only supports one of the two major standards for wireless connected home devices. But they don’t detract from the experience – and the ultimate impression that Echo is a home companion that’s destined to become more and more a default option that people live with as reliably as they do their coffee table, or at least their dishwasher.

Amazon to sell Apple TV, Google Chromecast after two-year ban

Amazon will soon sell Apple TV devices.
Amazon will soon sell Apple TV devices.

Image: karissa bell/mashable

Congrats, Apple and Google. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is ready to play nice, in a way. 

Amazon will begin selling Apple TV and Google Chromecast devices after a two-year ban on the e-commerce giant, CNET reported Thursday. Those products compete with Amazon’s own streaming services via Fire TV devices.

“I can confirm that we are assorting Apple TV and Chromecast,” an Amazon spokesperson told Mashable in an emailed statement previously shared with CNET. 

The Apple and Google devices aren’t currently available on Amazon, but CNET spotted product listing pages for three versions of the Apple TV and two Chromecast options. 

The move could be an olive branch from Amazon to the tech giants as they fight over content offerings on their competitive devices. 

It’s been a long and complicated war. Amazon had removed Apple TV and Google Chromecast from the site in late 2015. At the time, the company argued that its customers “would be confused and frustrated” if they purchases devices that did not offer a way to stream content from Amazon Prime Video, The Verge noted

In September, Google removed YouTube off Amazon’s Echo Show devices and later did the same for Fire TV. 

Meanwhile, Amazon has still not made its Prime Video app Google Cast-compatible so it would be available on Google Chromecast. It did, however, recently release the app on Apple TV

Beyond these fights, tech giants now have another battle to juggle together. Also on Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to kill net neutrality. That means internet providers can now charge companies and consumers for faster internet access.

So, good luck everyone. 1edf 62fa%2fthumb%2f00001