Some of the biggest names on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley — JPMorgan Chase, Advent International, Khosla Ventures among them — are pumping billions of dollars into mom-and-pops selling everything from tea kettles to jock itch remedies on Amazon.com.
Investment banks, venture firms and private equity shops are backing so-called Amazon aggregators — often led by e-commerce veterans — that are betting they can take up-and-coming sellers, who often operate out of their garages, and transform them into global brands. The aggregators say they have the expertise to select strong products and avoid faddish ones that flame out before they have a chance to grow.
The latest entrant, Branded Group, said last week that it had purchased 20 houseware and leisure brands. Formed last summer and flush with $150 million raised by the Berlin venture firm Target Global, Branded will be run by Pierre Poignant, who previously led the Southeast Asian online marketplace Lazada, and Michael Ronen, who spent almost 20 years in mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs and also worked for SoftBank’s Silicon Valley venture division.”We want to be a multibillion dollar company,” says Poignant, who oversaw the sale of Lazada to Alibaba Group.
Poignant acknowledges that “buying businesses is one thing. Scaling them is another.”