Alibaba-backed OpenSky has bought defunct furniture website Dot & Bo – Recode

OpenSky, the former celebrity-curated shopping site that rebuilt itself as an online bazaar for unbranded goods, has acquired the assets of online furniture retailer Dot & Bo, which went out of business in September.

As part of the deal, OpenSky has bought the Dot & Bo brand as well as assets like its customer and vendor lists. The assets were purchased from the restructuring firm Sherwood Partners for a few hundred thousand dollars, according to a person familiar with the deal. A Sherwood Partners spokesperson did not respond to a request for information about payouts to Dot & Bo’s creditors.

Dot & Bo was founded in 2013 with a focus on meshing content with commerce to help sell home furnishings and decor to a young customer base. It raised $20 million in venture capital along the way, but shut down suddenly in late September. The Dot & Bo website is now back up and taking orders.

In an interview, OpenSky CEO John Caplan said the deal will help his company go deeper into the furniture category with the help of a brand that has some recognition in the industry. OpenSky’s product selection on its other sites, OpenSky.com and Storenvy.com, skews toward apparel and accessories.

Still, the most interesting part of the deal to me isn’t that Dot & Bo is coming back to life or why OpenSky was interested in the deal. It’s that OpenSky is still around.

The startup raised around $50 million in venture capital through 2011 but nearly went out of business in 2013 when its model of paying celebrities to curate product selections failed.

Since then, it has transformed itself into a marketplace for small businesses to sell affordable goods that don’t carry brand names. (Think of the type of unbranded stuff you might find from small merchants selling on Amazon, eBay or Wish.) Alibaba became a major shareholder in the company in 2015 when it sold its own small U.S. online marketplace to OpenSky.

OpenSky had under $2 million in revenue in 2014, Caplan said. In 2016, that number was up to about $40 million, with a large portion of sales still coming through email marketing, where the company has a customer list north of 10 million.

Caplan said the startup is now operating at break-even.


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