All posts in “Fundings & Exits”

Farfetch bets on sneakers with $250M Stadium Goods acquisition

The lines between streetwear and luxury fashion have blurred in recent years, especially as excitement around sneaker brands like Yeezy and Off-White has soared.

A marriage between a luxury fashion marketplace and a sneaker and streetwear reseller seems like a natural way to wrap up M&A in 2018. With that said, Farfetch has acquired New York-based Stadium Goods, opting to pay $250 million for the sneaker startup in a combination of cash and Farfetch stock. Headquartered in London, Farfetch went public on the New York Stock Exchange in September, pricing its shares at $20 apiece and raising $885 million in the process.

What’s more impressive is Stadium Goods’ journey to exit. The company, which sells new and deadstock products online and in a brick-and-mortar store in New York’s Soho neighborhood, was founded in 2015 by John McPheters and Jed Stiller and had only raised $4.6 million in venture capital funding from Forerunner Ventures, The Chernin Group and Mark Cuban, who is an advisor to the startup.

“There was a time not that long ago when you couldn’t wear sneakers and streetwear to nightclubs and restaurants,” McPheters, Stadium Goods’ chief executive officer, told TechCrunch. “But adoption of the stuff we are selling has continued to grow at a very large clip.”

The sale to Farfetch not only provides a major boost to the sneaker tech ecosystem, which is surprisingly much larger than those who aren’t familiar with it might have guessed, but its yet another successful e-commerce exit for Kirsten Green, the founding partner of Forerunner Ventures, who’s also backed Dollar Shave Club and Bonobos — direct-to-consumer retailers that sold for $1 billion and $310 million, respectively.

Stadium Goods founders John McPheters (left) and Jed Stiller.

Farfetch boarded the sneaker and streetwear hype train a while ago when it incorporated brands like Nike’s Jordan, some of which sell for more than $1,000 on the site. The company doubled down on sneakers earlier this year when it began integrating Stadium Goods products. After noticing high-demand, Farfetch founder and CEO José Neves tells TechCrunch, they began acquisition talks with the startup. Stadium Goods will remain independent as part of the deal, with McPheters and Stiller staying on to lead the brand forward. The company’s portfolio of shoes and apparel will be fully available on Farfetch’s e-commerce platform in the coming months.

“Luxury streetwear is a significant part of our business,” Neves said. “For many years now, we have had the largest collection of Off-White, for example, on the internet … What we did not have was the resale, secondary market. It was clear this was an interesting opportunity.”

Together, Farfetch and Stadium Goods will focus on international growth. McPheters tells TechCrunch Stadium Goods already had a significant international base of customers, but a partnership with Farfetch gives them the tools to go places they’ve never been before.

“In my mind, we are only just beginning,” McPheters said. “As more and more customers get comfortable with purchasing aftermarket items, we are going to continue to grow.”

The global athletic footwear industry is expected to be worth $95 billion by 2025. Meanwhile, sneaker resale is a $1 billion market and growing, fueled by a cohort of startups making it easier than ever for sneakerheads to locate rare shoes online and have them delivered to their doorsteps. That includes Stadium Goods, Flight Club, GOAT and StockX.

All four of these resellers, which ensure authentication of their products, are backed by VCs. Flight Club merged with GOAT earlier this year and together the pair raised a $60 million Series C. Before that, GOAT had brought in $30 million for its secondary market for collectible shoes from Accel, Upfront Ventures, Matrix Partners and more. StockX, for its part, has raised just over $50 million from Mark Wahlberg, Scooter Braun, Wale, Eminem, SV Angel and others.

According to Crunchbase data, VCs have funneled more than $200 million into sneaker startups in the past two years. Now, given the size of Stadium Goods’ exit, investment in the space will likely pick up significantly as other VCs hope to land an exit multiple that substantial.

Whether the reselling market will continue to expand is in question. Some have called it a bubble poised to burst, claiming it’s at its “height in popularity.” Why? Because corporate shoe brands like Nike and Adidas are keenly aware of the secondary market for their products and how they, too, can profit from it. If they decide to increase the supply of particular shoe models hot on the secondary market, they can radically disrupt the reseller economy. McPheters, however, says this doesn’t concern him.

“Brands need to strangle the demand to keep driving excitement in the space,” McPheters said. “They count on that hype to really move the needle.”

YayPay raises $8.4 million for its accounts receivable service

Fintech startup YayPay just raised another $8.4 million for its software-as-a-service solution focused on collecting money from outstanding invoices. The company participated in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield.

Information Venture Partners led today’s funding round with existing investors Birchmere, QED, Fifth Third Capital, Gaingels and 500 Fintech Fund also participating.

YayPay targets large companies with an accounting department. The startup provides the perfect service to handle unpaid invoices. YayPay analyzes previous invoices and predicts when you’re supposed to get paid depending on the client and the nature of the invoice. This way, you know which account needs your attention right now.

Teams can collaborate to send reminders and make sure everyone is on the same page. You can also view information about your client directly in YayPay thanks to CRM and ERP integrations.

YayPay also eliminates a bunch of pesky tasks, such as gentle email reminders. You can create automated workflows so that your clients get an email a few days before a payment deadline. If they don’t open the email, you can receive a notification telling you to call them. Customers can also pay invoices directly using YayPay. The platform supports ACH and credit cards.

While this seems like a niche product, the company has managed to attract 480 clients who have generated over $7 billion in accounts receivables. This represents a 500 percent user base increase over the last 12 months.

Tigera raises $30M Series B for its Kubernetes security and compliance platform

Tigera, a startup that offers security and compliance solutions for Kubernetes container deployments, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series B round led by Insight Partners. Existing investors Madrona, NEA and Wing also participated in this round.

Like everybody in the Kubernetes ecosystem, Tigera is exhibiting at KubeCon this week, so I caught up with the team to talk about the state of the company and its plans for this new raise.

“We are in a very exciting position,” Tigera president and CEO Ratan Tipirneni told me. “All the four public cloud players [AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud] have adopted us for their public Kubernetes service. The large Kubernetes distros like Red Hat and Docker are using us.” In addition, the team has signed up other enterprises, often in the healthcare and financial industry, and SaaS players (all of which it isn’t allowed to name) that use its service directly.

The company says that it didn’t need to raise right now. “We didn’t need the money right now, but we had a lot of incoming interest,” Tipirneni said. The company will use the funding to expand its engineering, marketing and customer success teams. In total, it plans to quadruple its sales force. In addition, it plans to set up a large office in Vancouver, Canada, mostly because of the availability of talent there.

In the legacy IT world, security and compliance solutions could rely on the knowledge that the underlying infrastructure was relatively stable. Now, though, with the advent of containers and DevOps, workloads are highly dynamic, but that also makes the challenge of securing them and ensuring compliance with regulations like HIPAA or standards like PCI more complex, too. The promise of Tigera’s solution is that it allows enterprises to ensure compliance by using a zero-trust model that authorizes each service on the network, encrypts all the traffic and enforces the policies the admins have set for their company and needs. All of this data is logged in detail and, if necessary, enterprises can pull it for incident management or forensic analysis. 

Multilingual Indian video app Roposo raises $10M from Tiger Global and Bertelsmann

India has 22 official languages, which often presents a challenge for businesses that want to scale across the entire country. Video-sharing app Roposo, however, uses that to its advantage by offering content in several different regional languages. Based in Gurgaon, Roposo announced today that it has raised a $10 million Series C from returning investors Tiger Global and Bertelsmann, bring its total funding so far to $31 million. Roposo will use new funding for hiring, product development, and user acquisition.

Tiger Global first invested in Roposo’s Series A round and also returned for its Series B, according to Crunchbase. After an Indian startup funding spree, Tiger Global hit pause on new investments there for a couple of years before reportedly closing a $3.75 billion fund this year to focus on India, the U.S., and China. Roposo’s funding news comes a week after facility management company Facilio, another Indian startup, announced that it also received funding from Tiger Global.

Roposo originally launched as a fashion-based social network in 2013 before pivoting to videos in August 2017. It now claims 7.5 million monthly active users, 250,000 user-generated videos, and 160 million video views a day.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Mayank Bhangadia tells TechCrunch that Roposo’s pivot came from “a gradual evolution of the platform from a fashion social network into rebooting as a complete social video network to enter the next big level of game play.” Users still share videos about fashion, but now it is one of several topics, including music, comedy, spirituality, tech, travel, and current events (Roposo organizes videos into about 25 interest-based channels).

Roposo currently claims a total user base of 25 million. One obvious question is how the app plans to keep their attention as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram each aggressively promote their live-streaming video features.

One of Roposo’s key advantages is its focus on multiple Indian languages (it offers content in 10 so far), which gives it an edge in smaller Indian cities and towns. Bhangadia says it also differentiates by creating a TV-like viewing experience and offering editing tools that make it easy for people to start broadcasting (about 30% of Roposo’s users have created content). Video creators can also make money based on how much user engagement their content generates.

Waggel launches ‘fully digital’ pet insurance

Waggel, a new ‘insurtech’ startup in the U.K., is officially launching today to offer what it describes as “fully digital” pet insurance.

Founded by Andrew Leal, and Ross Fretten (a contestant of The Apprentice 2017), the company wants to offer more transparent cover for your pet, where you’ll know exactly how much you’re paying and for what provision, as well as offer rewards for improving the care of your animal.

“The biggest problem in pet insurance and insurance in general is the lack of value that customers get with a policy,” says Leal. “You pay a monthly fee and get nothing in return except maybe a promise to pay out a claim in the future. On top of this, pet insurance has become extremely complicated for users with confusing policy names and jargon-rich wording. The industry is still largely paper based, slow and terrible at communicating with customers and as a result falling well short of todays consumer expectations. Insurance is very much a grudge purchase”.

Leal says that Waggel is attempting to solve this by offering a fully digital solution that puts the customer experience first “to alleviate the stress that is typical of insurance”.

You are able to get a quote within 30 seconds that explains in simple language what you’re getting for your money. You can also make a claim within the app and track that claim in real-time, while Waggel promises to be transparent on how much it is paying out and why.

“All without having to hear another minute of hold music!” quips the Waggel founder.

In addition to the startup’s core insurance product, Waggel offers a rewards programme that Leal says makes it easier and more affordable for customers to take preventative care of their pet through feeding them higher quality nutrition. This comes in the form of “discounts with our hand-picked quality pet food partners,” he says.

In terms of competition, Leal says there are numerous incumbents in the pet insurance space but cites PetPlan and Animal Friends as the main two.

“Pet insurance has gotten stuck in a vicious cycle,” he adds. “The market has developed in that competitors offer an extremely homogenous product. With not much separating the different offerings, price has become the main differentiator. On the other side, the average vet bills have continued to rise. This means that insurers are getting squeezed for profits and having to offer less and less value to their customers, whilst being stricter and stricter on claims.

“We want to bring a new fresh approach to the market in that we want to see our policyholders as members and their premium as a subscription, for which they can get continuous value for their monthly fee through our rewards programme”.