The FGB Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer and challenger brands. In today’s edition: Callaly smashes crowdfunding target; Casper duped investors during IPO; and Amazon set to acquire Zoox.
Callaly smashes crowdfunding target
During the coronavirus pandemic, Callaly has reported “positive growth”, with new UK subscribers rising over 160% between March and May.
The DTC femcare brand will use the funds raised from the crowd to continue “in its mission to offer better solutions for women’s health at much higher standards” as well as expanding internationally, launching in Sweden, the Netherlands and Ireland this month. The cash will also help with regulatory matters to enter the US and Chinese markets.
“We have always put our customer and community at the heart of our business and there is no more powerful way to do that than by giving them the chance to be part of our journey,” co-founder and CEO Thang Vo-Ta said.
“We know people are looking for meaningful products and sustainable impact from the brands they purchase from. This marks an opportunity for us as a company built on innovation and purpose. ”
Casper duped investors during IPO
Casper Sleep duped investors into pouring USD$100m into its IPO, knowing its financial prospects were far dimmer than it promised, according to a lawsuit seeking class action status.
It’s the latest in a series of blows to the online mattress retailer, which went public at USD$12 a share in February. The stock closed at USD$13.50 on its first day out, for a market capitalisation of less than half the USD$1.1bn Casper was valued at in a private funding round last year. The bed-in-a-box startup ended Friday with a share price of USD$8.50 and a market value of USD$337.2m.
In registering for the initial public offering, Casper failed to disclose that its profit margins were narrowing and that it was selling “a glut of old and outdated mattress inventory” at clearance prices, according to the lawsuit, which was filed last week in federal court in New York and demands unspecified damages.
Then, in April, Casper said it was working to “improve its cash position and business model,” the suit continues, “notwithstanding the fact that the company had raised more than USD$100m in gross offering proceeds from the IPO” less than three months earlier.
“The claims in this lawsuit are without merit, and we will defend against them,” a Casper spokesperson said.
Amazon set to acquire Zoox
Amazon will acquire self-driving start-up Zoox for more than USD$1.2bn, marking the ecommerce group’s biggest investment into the autonomous vehicle sector. Amazon intends to work with Zoox to create a fleet of self-driving taxis, in competition with Alphabet’s Waymo, said one person familiar with the deal. But analysts also suggested that Amazon may use Zoox to build self-driving delivery vehicles.
Amazon has also bought smaller stakes in electric truckmaker Rivian and the self-driving start-up Aurora. Zoox will operate as a standalone business, Amazon said, with its leadership unchanged. The purchase price, which has not been officially disclosed, is a steep discount to the USD$3.2bn valuation that the six-year-old Zoox had in July 2018.
While Zoox had been planning to launch a pilot programme this year, the company was knocked by the coronavirus pandemic and had been seeking a sale since May. It made about 100 employees redundant in April while rival Cruise, a division of General Motors, shed 150 staff. There were doubts that it would be able to build its self-driving taxi programme without further investment.
Want this in your Inbox? Sign up to our newsletter here!