Luxury handbag marketplace Rebag raises $25M to expand to 30 more stores

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Rebag, an online resale marketplace for luxury handbags, is getting another infusion of capital as it prepares to expand its offline retail operations. The company this week announced $25 million in Series C funding, in a round led by private equity firm Novator, with participation from existing investors, General Catalyst and FJ Labs.

The round brings Rebag’s total raise to date to $52 million.

Rebag competes with other luxury goods resellers, like TheRealReal, and to some extent with broader resale marketplaces like thredUP or Poshmark, which also attract shoppers looking to buy quality pre-owned items. And it exists in alongside large marketplaces like eBay as well as rental shops like Rent the Runway, which offers an alternative to a site focused only on handbags.

In fact, Rebag founder and CEO Charles Gorra spent a brief period at Rent the Runway, before leaving to start Rebag in 2014. At the time, he said he saw an immediate opportunity to not just rent the items out, but to actually resell them on a secondary market.

Today, Rebag’s shop sells bags from over 50 designer brands, including all the majors like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, and others.

However, in the years following Rebag’s launch, the company has expand its offerings beyond just online resale to include brick-and-mortar retail and, more recently, a service called Rebag Infinity, which allows shoppers to turn in any Rebag handbag purchase within 6 months in exchange to receive a credit of at least 70 percent of the purchase price.

Last year, Rebag made headlines in the fashion world for selling the rare Hermès White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin collectible – typically an over $100,000 bag – for “just” $70,000, to celebrate the opening of its 57th Street and Madison Avenue store, its second Manhattan flagship location.

With the new funding, Rebag will expand its offline footprint, it says. The company currently operates five stores in New York and L.A. but plans to launch 30 more locations in the “medium term.” This will include both standalone storefronts, as well as presences within luxury malls.

It’s common these days for resale marketplaces these days to take their wares to offline shoppers. TheRealReal, Rent the Runway, ThredUP, and others all today offer real world locations, where shoppers can browse in person instead of just online.

Rebag says since it opened its retail stores las year, it moved from being a 100 percent digital operation to 80 percent digital, and 20 percent offline. Its sourcing network also grew to include over 20,000 stylists, partners, shoppers and sales associates.

With the funding, Rebag adds it will also refine its pricing and handbag evaluation tools aimed at standardizing the resale process, something that could represent another business for the brand (or make it attractive to an acquirer.)

“We are a technology company first,” noted founder and CEO Charles Gorra, in a statement. “Our goal is to become the standard for the luxury resale industry, just like Kelley Blue Book is the main resource for the auto industry.”

The company plans also to triple its team of 100, which today includes newer hires CTO Jay Winters (Delivery.com, Goldman Sachs) and CMO Elizabeth Layne (Bonobos, Appear Here).

Rebag doesn’t share its hard numbers about sales, revenues, valuation, customer base or others, but told us it has tripled revenues since its Series B.

 


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Coinbase abandons its cautious approach with plan to list up to 30 new cryptocurrencies

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Coinbase is the most conservative exchange in cryptoland, largely because it operates in the U.S. under the watchful eye of the SEC. The $8 billion-valued company trades fewer than ten cryptocurrencies to consumers but on Friday announced it announced a major expansion that could see it list up to 30 new tokens.

The company said it is considering support Ripple’s XRP, EOS — the Ethereum challenger that held a year-long ICO that raised $4 billion — Stellar, a creation from a Ripple co-founder, chat app Kik’s Kin token and more.

The full list is below:

Cardano (ADA), Aeternity (AE), Aragon (ANT), Bread Wallet (BRD), Civic (CVC), Dai (DAI), district0x (DNT), EnjinCoin (ENJ), EOS (EOS), Golem Network (GNT), IOST (IOST), Kin (KIN), Kyber Network (KNC), ChainLink (LINK), Loom Network (LOOM), Loopring (LRC), Decentraland (MANA), Mainframe (MFT), Maker (MKR), NEO (NEO), OmiseGo (OMG), Po.et (POE), QuarkChain (QKC), Augur (REP), Request Network (REQ), Status (SNT), Storj (STORJ), Stellar (XLM), XRP (XRP), Tezos (XTZ), and Zilliqa (ZIL)

The company last announced new asset explorations in July, although today it did add four new ERC tokens to its pro service.

Coinbase recently revamped its policy on new token listings. Instead of abruptly adding new assets, a process that sent their valuations spiking along with rumors of inside trading, it now goes public with its intention to “explore” the potential to list new assets in order to lower the impact of a listing. It also doesn’t guarantee which, if any, will make it through and be listed.

“Adding new assets requires significant exploratory work from both a technical and compliance standpoint, and we cannot guarantee that all the assets we are evaluating will ultimately be listed for trading,” the company said.

Support for tokens is pretty nuanced. Coinbase lists some assets on its professional service only, with just nine supported on its regular consumer-facing exchange — those are Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Zcash, USD Coin, 0x and Basic Attention Token.

The company may also introduce some tokens on a state by state basis in the U.S. in order to comply with laws.

Brian Armstrong told the audience at Disrupt San Francisco that Coinbase could list “millions” of cryptocurrencies in the future

Coinbase is looking into this glut of new tokens — some of which, it must be said, are fairly questionable as projects let alone operating with uncertain legal status — at a time when the market is down significantly from its peak in January, both in terms of trading volume and market valuations.

In recent weeks, sources at a number of top exchanges have told TechCrunch that trading-related revenues are down as much as 50 percent over recent months and, while the numbers for Coinbase aren’t clear, there’s no doubt that its revenue is taking a big hit during this ‘crypto winter.’ That makes it easy to argue that Coinbase is widening its selection to increase potential volumes and, in turn, its revenue — particularly since it just raised $300 million from investors at a massive $8 billion valuation.

Coinbase defenders, however, will argue that a greater selection has long been the plan.

Ignoring the reasons, that’s certainly true. It is well known that the company wants to massively increase the number of cryptocurrencies that it supports.

CEO Brian Armstrong said as much as our TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco in October, where he sketched out the company’s plan to be the New York Stock Exchange of crypto.

“It makes sense that any company out there who has a cap table… should have their own token. Every open source project, every charity, potentially every fund or these new types of decentralized organizations [and] apps, they’re all going to have their own tokens. We want to be the bridge all over the world where people come and they take fiat currency and they can get it into these different cryptocurrencies,” he said during an on-stage interview at the event.

That tokenized future could see Coinbase host hundreds of tokens within “years” and even potentially “millions” in the future, according to Armstrong.

The company has done a lot of the groundwork to make that happen.

Coinbase bought a securities dealer earlier this year and it has taken regulatory strides to list tokenized securities in the U.S, albeit with some confusion. In addition, its VC arm has backed a startup that helps create ‘digital security tokens’ and the exchange introduced a new listing process which could potentially include a listing fee in exchange for necessary legal work.

These 30 new (potential) assets might not be the digital security tokens that Coinbase is moving to add, but the fact that the exchange is exploring so many new assets in one go shows how much wider the company’s vision is now.

The crypto community has already reacted strongly to this deluge of new assets. As you might expect, it is a mix of naive optimism from those invested in ‘under-performing’ projects (shitcoins) who think a Coinbase listing could turn everything around, and criticism from crypto watchers who voiced concern that Coinbase is throwing its prestige and support behind less-than-deserving cryptocurrencies.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.



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30 European startup CEOs call for better stock option policies

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Thirty European tech CEOs of big startups signed a letter about stock options in Europe. Other tech CEOs can join the group and sign the letter before it is sent to policymakers on January 7.

As you can read in the letter below, these CEOs think Silicon Valley isn’t the only region suffering from talent crunch. It could be a “serious bottleneck to growth.”

“Over the next twelve months, Europe’s startups will need to hire more than 100,000 employees,” the letter says. “Without delay, we call on legislators to fix the patchy, inconsistent and often punitive rules that govern employee ownership—the practice of giving staff options to acquire a slice of the company they’re working for.”

Here’s the current list of signatories: Johannes Reck (GetYourGuide), Alice Zagury (The Family), Christian Reber (Pitch), Johannes Schildt (KRY / LIVI), Peter Mühlmann (Trustpilot), Ilkka Paanenen (Supercell), Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise), Lucas Carne (Privalia), Jean-Charles Samuelian (Alan), Alex Saint (Secret Escapes), Dr. Tamaz Georgadze (Raisin), Patrick Collison (Stripe), Nikolay Storonsky (Revolut), Samir Desai (Funding Circle), Markus Villig (Taxify), Jean-Baptise Rudelle (Criteo), Nicolas Brusson (BlaBlaCar), Jacob de Geer (iZettle), David Okuniev (Typeform), José Neves (Farfetch), Felix Van de Maele (Collibra), Joris Van Der Gucht (Silverfin), Daniel Dines (UiPath), Rohan Silva (Second Home), Niklas Östberg (Delivery Hero), Dominik Richter (Hello Fresh), Dr. Raoul Scherwitzl (NaturalCycles), Alex Depledge (RESI), Juan de Antonio (Cabify).

Here’s the letter:

OPEN LETTER TO EUROPE’S POLICYMAKERS

Not Optional: Europe must attract more talent to startups

This following letter will be sent to Europe's policymakers on 7 January 2019.

Policymakers, entrepreneurs and investors must work together to bring more talent to Europe’s startups. Here’s why.

The European tech sector has never been stronger. From London to Lisbon, Paris to Prague, Europe is now nurturing some of the world’s most dynamic and creative companies. And not all are fledgling young startups: many are already substantial, high-growth enterprises set to succeed in the global market.

The days of living in Silicon Valley’s shadow are over. We no longer lack ambition and capital. Now, Europe is a shining powerhouse of bold, new business models that drive economic growth, generate jobs and improve people’s lives.

We’d all like to see this fair weather continue, but storm clouds are gathering on the horizon.

Europe could be the world’s most entrepreneurial continent but the limited availability of talent to nurture and fuel its blossoming start-up ecosystem is a serious bottleneck to growth. That’s why we, the founders and executives of Europe’s leading tech businesses, now urge policymakers to put talent at the top of their agenda.

Over the next twelve months, Europe’s startups will need to hire more than 100,000 employees. Add to that the number of employees that start-ups yet to be born will need to get their ideas off the ground. Reaching that goal will be hard, but hard things are what we do and we’re ready to rise to the challenge.

Without delay, we call on legislators to fix the patchy, inconsistent and often punitive rules that govern employee ownership—the practice of giving staff options to acquire a slice of the company they’re working for.

This isn’t just a perk on top of a salary: universally, stock options reward employees for taking the risk of joining a young, unproven business, and give them a real stake in their company’s future success. Stock options are one of the main levers that startups use to recruit the talent they need; these companies simply can’t afford to pay the higher wages of more established businesses.

But policies that currently govern employee ownership across Europe are often archaic and highly ineffective. Some are so punishing that they put our startups at a major disadvantage to their peers in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, with whom we’re competing for the best designers, developers, product managers, and more.

If we fail to take action, we could see a brain drain of Europe’s best and brightest, leading to fewer jobs created and slower growth. That’s why we need to create startup-friendly employee share ownership schemes, to help Europe’s tech sector—its greatest engine of growth, innovation and employment—to succeed and thrive in the global labour market.

If we don’t eliminate the talent bottleneck, we risk squandering the incredible momentum that European tech has built up in recent years. The next Google, Amazon or Netflix could well come from Europe, but for that to happen, reforming the rules of employee ownership is definitely not optional.

According to Index Ventures, the company that is coordinating this effort, some countries already have startup-friendly policies while others lag behind:

The VC firm recommends overhauling policies in some countries and harmonizing policies across Europe. New rules should follow those six principles:

  1. Create a stock option scheme that is open to as many startups and employees as possible, offering favourable treatment in terms of regulation and taxation. Design a scheme based on existing models in the UK, Estonia or France to avoid further fragmentation and complexity.
  2. Allow startups to issue stock options with non-voting rights, to avoid the burden of having to consult large numbers of minority shareholders.
  3. Defer employee taxation to the point of sale of shares, when employees receive cash benefit for the first time.
  4. Allow startups to issue stock options based on an accepted ‘fair market valuation’, which removes tax uncertainty.
  5. Apply capital gains (or better) tax rates to employee share sales.
  6. Reduce or remove corporate taxes associated with the use of stock options.

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Apple’s holding another big event October 30

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And here you thought hardware season was over. A month and a half after its last major event, Apple’s throwing a big party in Brooklyn on October 30. The event will likely suss out some of the technology that slipped through the cracks back in September, including, most likely a new iPad and possible some updates to the Mac line.

The tag line, “There’s more in the making” appears to be a nod to both the “one more thing” aspect of this late in the season event, along with the company’s new found refocus on creative professionals. Likely we’ll see a new version of the iPad Pro and, if we’re lucky, perhaps even a peek at the upcoming refresh of the Mac Pro, which is set to arrive early next year.

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