Away Chief Resigns Following Abusive Practice Allegations; Yumi Gains Investment from DTC Powerhouses


DTC’s Daily Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands. In today’s edition: Away chief resigns following abusive practice allegations; EY going DTC; and Yumi gains investment from DTC powerhouses.

Away chief resigns following abusive practice allegations

Online luggage retailer Away has confirmed the resignation of its chief executive, Steph Korey. She will function as executive chairman. The news comes days after a report from The Verge detailing abusive management practices from Korey and others at the popular upstart, which was valued at $1.4 billion back in May.

Before the resignation was announced, Korey apologised for “mistakes” made at the company through her Twitter account.

“What you read in the article doesn’t reflect the company we want to be,” Korey said in the statement. “I want to be clear that the Away I am committed to is one where we set the highest standards for how we treat our people and help them grow.” 

In an email from Away,  Korey said:Over the past eight months, I led the recruiting process that led us to bringing on Stuart (retail industry veteran Stuart Haselden), and I’m so thrilled for him to join the company as Away’s CEO. Stuart is a deeply experienced leader and operator who will be transformative for Away’s next phase of growth. I am looking forward to stepping into my new role as executive chairman.”

Yumi gains investment from DTC powerhouses

Baby food delivery startup Yumi has raised USD$8m in strategic funding. The most recent raise comes from several of Silicon Valley’s household names, including Allbirds, Warby Parker,  Harry’s, Sweetgreen, SoulCycle, Uber, Casper and the CEO of Blue Bottle Coffee, James Freeman. That puts the total raised now to USD$12.1m.

According to Zion Market Research, the global baby food market could reach as much as USD$76bn by 2021. It’s a competitive space, and USD$12.1m isn’t a lot of cash to carve your niche. However, Yumi say their advantage is in providing fresh food alternatives, and that “shelf-stable” competitors like Gerber lack key nutrients parents want for their little ones.

Sales continue to rise and have risen by 10 times in the last year, according to the company. “Our goal is to change the standards for childhood nutrition, and completely upend what it means to be a food brand in America,” Yumi co-founder and CEO Angela Sutherland said.

EY going DTC

EY will launch a direct-to-consumer tax solution in 2020. The service, named TaxChat, will be offered to those who are required to file US tax returns. 

The solution is not quite do-it-yourself, as it will offer licensed tax professionals who prepare and file clients’ individual federal and state returns through the digital platform.

DIY tax solutions remain a necessity to taxpayers in the absence of a government-issued basic platform, but the industry has been plagued with issues leading to mistrust, such as Intuit’s being accused of misleading customers away from the free version of TurboTax, and Canopy Tax abruptly shuttering its professional tax prep software ahead of launch next year.

EY’s direct-to-consumer offering will start in January. The Big Four firm bought certain tax tech assets from TaxChat, which makes mobile tax prep solutions, in 2017. Since the acquisition, EY TaxChat has been exclusively an employee benefit offered by participating companies.

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