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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Pluto TV will expand its free service with paid subscriptions, says new owner Viacom

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Last month, Viacom picked up free streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million in cash. This week, the company spoke in more detail about its plans for Pluto TV – including its potential to for ad-supported streaming as well as the ability to market Viacom’s various subscription video properties directly to consumers, similar to how Amazon Channels works today.

At the time of the acquisition, Pluto TV offered over 100 channels of free content from 130 partners, and reached 12 million monthly users – many of whom are younger, and never intend to subscribe to traditional pay TV, like cable or satellite.

While Pluto TV built its brand on offering access “free TV,” Viacom sees the service not only as a way to grow an ad-supported video business, but also a way to upsell those free customers to paid subscription video products.

Viacom isn’t the only brand to have realized in recent months that a good number of consumers are uninterested in paying for TV and movies, when there are so many free alternatives for entertainment available on today’s web – including most notably, YouTube’s massive ad-supported video network, and to a lesser extent, the video offerings from places like Facebook Watch, and even those from social apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

That’s led many in the industry to launch their own, free and ad-supported video destinations. This includes Amazon’s recent debut of IMDb’s Freedive; Roku’s free TV and movie app known as The Roku Channel; Sling TV’s teaser package of free content for non-subscribers; and Walmart’s now over two-year old Vudu “Movies On Us;” among others. Plex also recently said it will venture into this area in 2019.

Viacom believes Pluto TV will give it a leg up in this growing ad-supported video market, explained Viacom CEO Robert Bakish, in a call with investors.

“We believe the majority of the Pluto TV audience is not watching pay-TV today. This segment already exists, so it makes sense for us – as Viacom – to take share,” he said. “Given the segmenting of the market, distributors need a free TV offering.”

The idea is that the free TV offered by Pluto TV will continue to attract consumers to the service. And Pluto TV will become more attractive on this front as Viacom adds its own content to the service – including all the programming it has been holding back from other subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services over the years.

“Our strategic decision to curtail large-scale library licensing to the SVOD players over the last couple of years – it cost us some money in fiscal 2017 and 2018 – but it means that we have large volumes of content to bring to bear now once we close the Pluto transaction,” Bakish noted.

In particular, the content Viacom plans to bring to Pluto TV spans genres like “kids, African-American, reality and comedy,” the company said.

Pluto TV will also gain access to Viacom’s marketing capabilities to grow its audience and its infrastructure, allowing the service to expand globally.

Meanwhile, Pluto TV offers advertisers an attractive audience, as it’s capable of reaching younger viewers who are opting out of pay TV, Viacom believes. Half of Pluto’s users today are ages 18 to 34, and the majority watch the service’s content on their TV’s big screen, thanks to Pluto’s integrations with smart TVs like those from Samsung and Vizio.

“It will provide a rapidly growing source of billions of monthly advanced TV impressions in young and hard-to-reach demos in a premium and safe environment,” said Bakish.

By noting that Pluto TV content would be “safe,” Bakish is taking a pointed dig at YouTube, which has struggled to police its user-gen content in a way that made it safe for advertisers, which even resulted in a brand freeze over ads in 2017. This is still a big concern for YouTube, CEO Susan Wojcicki said this week a letter to the YouTube community.

Last year, YouTube saw “how the bad actions of a few individuals can negatively impact the entire creator ecosystem,” wrote Wojcicki. “And that’s why we put even more focus on responsible growth,” she added.

In addition to the poor taste in programming choices made by various creators, at times, YouTube and more recently Roku, have also had to weigh decisions about how much extremist content they want to host in the name of being an open platform. The risk that comes with that is a significant impact to their bottom line as advertisers flee, the companies have found.

Viacom noted that Pluto TV’s ad inventory is today undersold – today, the company’s sales team sells less than 50 percent of ad space. That leaves room for growth.

In addition to free streaming, Viacom plans to use Pluto TV to grow its paid subscriber base, as well.

Through Pluto TV, Viacom will offer customers the chance to add on paid subscriptions to their account, Bakish said – a strategy employed today by Amazon and Roku.

These add-ons will include those for Viacom’s subscription products like Noggin, aimed at parents of preschoolers; Comedy Central Now; and the company’s newest subscription, NickHits, the CEO said. (The latter targets older kids and recently arrived on Amazon Channels.)

Viacom said the Pluto TV deal would boost revenue in 2019, but will be “slightly dilutive” to earnings. Viacom experts the deal to close in March.

The company reported a mixed quarter, with revenue of $3.09 billion that fell short of Wall Street forecasts, an earnings per share at $1.12 which beat analyst expectations.

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Free streaming service Tubi plans to invest $100M+ on content in 2019, expand internationally

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Free TV and movie streaming service Tubi is preparing to double down on content acquisitions this year, the company announced this morning. The service today offers over 12,000 movies and TV series, totalling 40,000 hours of content. All of this can be streamed for free as the content is paid for not via customer subscriptions, but rather by advertising. Now the company is preparing to invest over $100 million to expand its library this year, after hitting profitability in Q4 2018, and tackle new markets.

Founded in 2014, Tubi has benefitted from the trend towards cord cutting, as well as the increasing number of younger consumers who never opt to pay for cable or satellite TV in the first place – sometimes called the “cord nevers.”

The company claims that its viewership increased by over 4.3 times from December 2017 to December 2018, which allowed it to hit the profitability milestone. In the fourth quarter alone, it saw more revenue than in all of 2017 combined, it also noted. And it grew revenues by 180 percent-plus in 2018.

On the advertising front, the company says it ran campaigns from over 1,000 advertisers in 2018, including those from the majority of the top CPG and automotive companies.

However, several aspects of Tubi’s business aren’t being disclosed alongside today’s news – only the highlights. What the company won’t say is how many monthly active users it has, how many hours they watch, or how many ad impressions take place across its platform. These sorts of metrics are critical to measuring success in ad-supported video.

Along with its plans to grow its library, Tubi is preparing to expand outside the U.S. and Canada, with the first market launching this quarter.

To help fund its growth and content acquisitions, Tubi closed on $25 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank in December.

These plans come at a time when Tubi’s business model has been seeing increased competition.

For example, Roku entered ad-supported programming with its own The Roku Channel launch in fall 2017, and said earlier this month it now has 27 million user accounts. Of course, Roku doesn’t break that down by how many use its platform for other services, versus those who specifically launch Roku’s own free content – but that is its ad-supported channel’s potential reach.

In addition to Roku, Tubi competes against Walmart’s ad-supported video on Vudu; Amazon-owned IMDb’s new service FreediveViacom’s latest acquisition, Pluto TV; Sinclair’s local broadcaster-focused service Stirr; and soon, Plex. Comcast will also launch a free streaming service for its pay TV customers in 2020.

Tubi, like many of these services, believes in its potential as consumers tire of being nickeled and dimed for video subscriptions.

“In 2018 we at Tubi saw tremendous growth as consumers, fatigued by SVOD subscriptions and services, sought alternative entertainment choices,” said Farhad Massoudi, CEO of Tubi, in a statement. “We will continue to use profits to make bigger bets on content, enhance the viewing experience, and continue to press ahead into new grounds in what is our core advantage: technology and data,” he added.

In reality, however, Tubi competes for attention among a growing streaming market, which includes those paid subscription video offerings. Today’s consumers are building out customized bundles that make sense for them – a little Netflix and HBO perhaps, fleshed out with some free content through services like Tubi, for example.

Tubi’s advantage, of course, is that it doesn’t have to spend the billions on content and originals that subscription video services like Netflix do to win users. Instead, it relies on titles that have mainstream appeal, but may not be winning any awards – like older movies, kids shows, B-flicks, horror films, and reality TV.

At the end of the day, however, Tubi won’t necessarily gain from people tiring of subscription video, but from the growing influx of cord cutters who are searching for older or niche content not included in subscription libraries -or who just want to watch a free movie.

 

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OneLogin snares $100M investment to expand identity solution into new markets

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OneLogin is not a young startup by any means. The identity access management company was founded in 2009 and has watched while companies like Ping Identity, Duo Security and Okta had tidy exits. But as CEOs are fond of pointing out, the total addressable market is large and where investors see a chance, they take it. Today, the company announced a $100 million investment.

The latest round was led by new investors Greenspring Associates and Silver Lake Waterman, the late-stage investing arm of Silver Lake. Existing investors CRV and Scale Venture Partners also contributed to the round. Today’s investment brings the total raised since inception to over $170 million, according to the company.

It is referring to this as a “growth round,” but indicated that actually means Series D plus “flexible capital.” Whatever you call it, it would appear to give OneLogin some runway to grow large enough to find a way to exit.

CEO Brad Brooks says his company is well-positioned to compete with the likes of Okta and Microsoft in this market by offering a multi-faceted authentication solution that works both on-prem and in the cloud. He swept aside question of revenue, valuation or IPO plans, only indicating that the company was growing and they had big expansion plans.

Photo: OneLogin

That would include building on its success in Europe, while expanding to Asia and creating more specific solutions in the US such as focusing on FedRamp federal government compliance. The company currently has more than 260 employees, and with the new money Brooks wants to put the pedal to the metal.

He plans to double that number in the next 18 months, as he fuels that expansion plan, bringing in new engineers along with sales, marketing and support. He wouldn’t rule out acquisitions to expand the company’s capabilities, but said his preference is building in-house over buying. He believes that building provides an internal goal of innovation and offers the kind of challenges that attract engineering talent.

Brooks came on board in 2017, replacing co-founder Thomas Pedersen, who moved into the role of Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer. Its most recent round prior to today was a $22.5 million Series C last June.

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Elementary Robotics raises cash to expand in Los Angeles’ growing robotics hub

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Elementary Robotics has raised $3.6 million in seed funding to begin building a manufacturing facility and expand its presence in Los Angeles as the city continues to grow as a hub for robotics and automation. 

Earlier this year, Embodied announced a $22 million round for its personal robotics platform focused on healthcare and wellness, while InVia Robotics collected $20 million for its own take on the robotics industry.

With lead investors like Fika Ventures and Fathom Capital and co-investors including Toyota AI Ventures, Ubiquity Ventures, Riot.vc, Osage University Partners and Stage Venture Partners, Elementary Robotics is readying itself for commercial pilots with a few undisclosed customers as it proves out its technology.

Co-founded by Bill Gross, the brains behind an increasingly resurgent Idealab incubator, and Arye Barnehama, a former head of design at the augmented reality startup DAQRI.

Gross and Barnehama met through a mutual friend in the robotics industry in Los Angeles, the chief executive of Embodied, Paolo Pirjanian, Barnehama wrote in an email. That was around 2017 when the two first began brainstorming how they would build their company. After about a year of research the company launched with an initial investment of $1.2 million.

At the time, Barnehama had taken time off from DAQRI and had begun thinking about how to use the technologies he’d developed around computer vision and visualization to have more of an impact on human lives. 

“After working in AR on work process automation and making that information useful to humans, I became excited about the idea of designing robots that could leverage these new technologies to actually work alongside humans and the positive impact that could have on the world,” Barnehama wrote in an email.

That thinking became the seeds for Elementary Robotics and was one of the aspects of the company that attracted Toyota AI Ventures as a co-investor.

According to a statement from Jim Adler, the founding managing director of Toyota AI Ventures, “Arye and the Elementary Robotics team share our commitment to improve the quality of human life through AI and robotics. They have the talent, expertise, and vision to deliver on that commitment.” 

The investment is part of the corporate investment arm’s call for innovation through its Toyota Research Institute (TRI). “We launched the first call with TRI’s mobile manipulation team to give talented entrepreneurs a nudge in both direction and capital to make assistive robots more useful, safe, and affordable” said Adler.

Barnehama was tight-lipped about the specifics of the technology that Elementary is using for its robotic stack. “Nothing is final because we are still quite early, but we’re using 3D depth sensing cameras along with proprietary custom hardware elements. Beyond that I can’t comment further right now,” the chief executive said.

And Barnehama was equally vague about the company’s mission. “We are building our robots to augment current human output and performance, and enable existing workforces to have greater throughput as well as focus on more complex, human judgment-centered decisions. We look to automate high-repetition tasks and processes while avoiding large upfront capital expenditures and complex multi-year custom builds,” he wrote in an email.

In a separate email, Gross laid out exactly what he found so promising about Elementary’s combination of machine learning and image recognition tools software and robotics.

“Up until now, robotic actuation was mostly about super rigid, super stiff, super strong, repeatable actuation, mostly for manufacturing.  But with the recent advances in computer vision, machine learning, and adaptive learning, now you can have a robot that is gentler, less stiff, but MORE (sic) accurate using vision as your feedback system,” Gross wrote. “In other words, to get to the right place, you don’t have to rely on precise repeatability – instead you can FIND (sic) the right place dynamically with cameras and depth sensors, cheaply, and in real time.This is a game-changer, and opens up a new frontier of lower cost, easier to program, easier to use robotics for more mainstream operations.”

As a result of the investment, Fika Ventures co-founder and managing partner, Eva Ho will take a seat on the company’s board of directors.

Elementary is only Fika’s second investment in a hardware company, and Ho said that the commitment was driven by Arye himself.

“I met Arye almost a year before we wrote the check — and he really articulated a very clear vision of where he saw the gaps were in the robotics industry,” according to Ho. “During his customer research, he was pained by how difficult it was for companies to get robots into production environments – that the investment not only in the expensive robots but the type of talent you needed… to make them work, was so prohibitive… Arye and Bill felt there had to be a better way to introduce automation of repeatable tasks into a multitude of environments in a way that consumers have been trained by Google and Apple.”

In addition, the proximity to some of the world’s best public sector robotics labs makes a compelling case for Los Angeles as a burgeoning hub for the robotics industry.

“Los Angeles is a great place for this, because we have a close relationship with Caltech and JPL,” according to Gross. “JPL is the forerunner in the world of distant robotic missions that have to be failsafe, and amazing research is going on at Caltech on the mechanics and systems.  And LA is great for all the design resources as well, with Art Center, and all the great studios with people who are great at human interaction and story-telling.  So we’re excited to be building this company in LA.”


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Macaw will curate Twitter for you, help expand your network

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Twitter today inserts activity-based tweets into your timeline, alerting you to things like the popular tweets liked by people you follow, or those Twitter accounts that a lot of people in your network have just started to follow. These alerts can be useful, but their timing is sporadic and they can be easily missed. Plus, if you turn off Twitter’s algorithmic timeline (as may be possible for some), you’ll lose access to this sort of info. A new Twitter app called Macaw aims to help.

Macaw, which recently launched on Product Hunt, offers a set of similar information as Twitter does, with a few changes.

Macaw works by first pulling in a list of people you follow. It then tracks what tweets they like throughout the day and turns that into a feed of tweets that were most popular. Macaw does the same thing for users, too – that is, it shows you if a number of people have suddenly started following someone, for example.

Beyond this, Macaw will also show you the “Latest” tweets receiving likes from your network in a separate tab, as well as tweets where someone has asked a question.

This “Asks” section will highlight tweets where someone on Twitter has asked something like “Does anyone know…?” or “what are the best…?”, for example. This can help you find new conversations to participate in and help you expand your network.

The end result is a curated version of Twitter, where you can catch up with what’s important, without so much endless scrolling through your timeline.

Even if you’re on Twitter itself a lot, Macaw can still be useful.

Its default setting will hide top tweets posted by someone in your network – because, chances are, you’ve already read them. With this setting turned on, you’ll only be shown top tweets by users you don’t yet follow.

You can also configure how many likes are required for something to be considered a “top” tweet. By default, this is set to 25, but you can change it to 10, 100, or even 1,000. You can adjust the default setting for the age of the tweet, too, from 6 hours to 2 hours, 24 hours, or 96 hours, based on how often you check in.

The app, however, is not a Twitter client.

That is, it doesn’t take the place of Twitter or other apps like Twitterific or Tweetbot, as you can’t use it to post tweets, access direct messages, update your profile, or follow users. You’ll need a different app, like the main Twitter client, for that. But a tap in Macaw will launch Twitter for you, making the transition feel seamless.

The app was built by Zachary Hamed, who had previously built Daily 140 for tracking a similar set of data, shared via email. He says he started building Macaw as a side project and launched it into private beta in August. It doesn’t currently have a business model, beyond a plan to maybe charge for additional features later on.

In some ways, Macaw is similar to Nuzzel, another Twitter summarization app that provides a list of top links that your network is sharing and discussing. But many of the best things on Twitter aren’t links, they’re individual tweets or tweetstorms. (Like that recent Google+ rant, for example).

Hamed admits Nuzzel was a source of inspiration for Macaw (a bird that screams constantly, by the way. Ha!)

“I was actually inspired by those notifications in the main Twitter app since I’ve always found them fascinating and by Nuzzel, which is one of my most used apps – and whose founder Jonathan I really respect,” Hamed says. “I think there is a lot of hidden insight to be found in posts people have liked and who they start following, especially if there is momentum around certain names or topics. As of now, Twitter only shares one to two of those recommendations, not all of it,” he adds.

*While we do like Macaw, the app, one thing we’re not a fan of are the fake reviews on the Macaw website, which pretend to be from @Jack, Mary Meeker, and Chamath Palihapitiya. It’s obviously meant to be a joke, but it falls flat – Macaw doesn’t need this sort of false promotion, and it’s wrong because it could confuse less savvy users.

Macaw is a free download on the App Store.

 



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Gogoprint raises $7.7M to expand its online printing business in Asia Pacific

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Gogoprint, a startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional printing industry in Southeast Asia, has pulled in a $7.7 million investment as prepares to expand its business in Asia Pacific.

We first profiled Gogoprint in 2016 soon after its launch the previous year, and since then the Bangkok-based company has expanded beyond Thailand and into Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Now, the company is looking to go beyond Southeast Asia and enter Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and other markets over the coming 12 months.

Those moves will be funded by this Series A round, which is led by existing Gogoprint backer OPG (Online Printing Group), an investment firm from Kai Hagenbuch who was an early backer of Brazil-based Printi. Printi previously sold a chunk of its business to printing giant VistaPrint through a 2014 investment and it is generally heralded as a startup success within its space.

Gogoprint claims to have worked with 45,000 companies to date. Its core services include printed business cards, flyers, booklets, posters and more, in addition to marketing collateral such as promotional pens, other stationary and flash drives.

Printing isn’t a particularly sexy space from the outside, but Gogoprint is aiming to upend the industry in Southeast Asia using something known as ‘batching.’ That involves bundling a range of customer orders together for each print run to ensure that each sheet that’s sent to the printer is filled to capacity, or near capacity.

That sounds obvious, but traditional printing batches were almost always below capacity because each customer ordered individually with little option for batching. Gogoprint uses the internet to reach a wider number of customers which, using technology to batch jobs, means that it can handle more orders with fewer printer runs. That translates to cost savings for its business and lower prices for its customers. There are also benefits for the printers themselves since they are guaranteed volume, which is no sure thing in today’s increasingly digital world.

Gogoprint joint managing director David Berghaeuser — who founded the company with fellow co-founder Alexander Suess — told TechCrunch that the company main pivot has been away from the idea it needed to own its printing facility in-house.

“When we started, we had this impression that as an online printer eventually we needed to own and operate our own machinery. But over one or two years we had a mindset shift when we realized there’s this option to operate this model as a pure marketplace — we’re definitely a marketplace and do not plan to own any printing machinery” he explained.

A large part of that is because in Southeast Asia it simply isn’t practical to ship products overseas, both in terms of time and also the cost and hassle of importing. So Gogoprint has local partners in each market that it works with. Rather than “disrupting” the system, Berghaeuser argued that his company is making the process more efficient.

Gogoprint staff at the company’s office in Bangkok, Thailand

Gogoprint currently has around 125 staff and there are plans to grow that number by an additional 30. In particular, Berghaeuser said the company is building out an internal structure that will enable it to scale — that includes the recent hiring of a CTO.

Berghaeuser explained that the company focuses on larger clients — such as Honda, Lazada and Lion Air — because of their higher average basket size and a higher chance of repeat custom, which he revealed is 60 percent on average. That’s achieved with a few tricks, which includes no design software on the website. Instead, Gogoprint customers upload their completed designs in any format. While he conceded the formats can be a pain, Berghaeuser clarified that the approach minimizes more hobbyist-type business, although he did say that the company is happy to work with customers of all sizes.

Gogoprint claims it grew its customer numbers by 200 percent over the past year but it declined to provide revenue details. Berghaeuser did say that the company has a path to profitability that’s helped by “healthy” profit margins of 30-80 percent depending on the product.

Hagenbuch, the early backer of Printi in Brazil, is convinced that Gogoprint is on to a good thing in Asia.

“There are a handful of big-name online printers operating in the region. However, each of them has localized operations as they have been unable to truly expand regionally into Southeast Asia due to operational and market form factors,” he said in a statement

“Gogoprint has found the right formula to win more and more customers by creating true value: providing something that’s better at a cheaper price point, and with enhanced speed to market,” Hagenbuch added.

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Salesforce acquires Rebel, maker of ‘interactive’ email services, to expand its Marketing Cloud

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Salesforce’s Marketing and Commerce Cloud is the company’s smallest division today, so to help beef it up, the company is making an acquisition to add in more features. Salesforce has acquired Rebel, a startup that develops interactive email services for businesses to enhance their direct marketing services: recipients of interactive emails can write reviews, shop and take other actions without leaving the messages to do so.

In an announcement on Rebel’s site, the startup said it will be joining Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud operation, which will integrate Rebel’s API-based services into its platform.

“With Rebel’s Mail and API solutions, brands, including Dollar Shave Club, L’Oreal and HelloFresh, turn emails into an extension of their website or app – collecting data, removing friction from the conversion process, and enhancing the customer experience. Rebel will enhance the power of Salesforce Marketing Clod and fundamentally change the way people interact with email,” the founders note. It sounds as if the company’s existing business will be wound down as part of the move.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed in the Rebel announcement. We have contacted both the startup and Salesforce for further comment and to ask about the price. To date, Rebel — co-founded originally as Rebelmail by Joe Teplow and Trever Faden — had raised only about $3 million, with investors including Lerer Hippeau, Sinai Ventures, David Tisch, Gary Vaynerchuk, and others, so if the deal size is equally small, Salesforce likely will not be disclosing it.

Salesforce has made a number of acquisitions to build and expand its marketing services to compete with Adobe and others. Perhaps most notable of these was buying ExactTarget, one of its biggest-ever acquisitions, for $2.5 billion in 2013. (And according to some, it even wanted to buy Adobe at one point.) Competition has been heating up between the two, with Adobe most recently snapping up Marketo for $4.75 billion.

But on the other hand, marketing is currently Saleforce’s smallest division. It pulled in $452 million in revenues last quarter, putting it behind revenues for Sales Cloud ($1 billion), Service Cloud ($892 million) and Salesforce Platform ($712 million). Adding in interactive email functionality isn’t likely to float Marketing and Commerce Cloud to the top of that list, but it does show that Salesforce is trying to improve its products with more functionality for would-be and current customers.

Those customers have a lot of options these days, though, in targeting their own customers with rich email services. Microsoft and Google have both started to add in a lot more features into their own email products, with Outlook and Gmail supporting things like in-email payments and more. There are ways of building such solutions through your current direct marketing providers, or now directly using other avenues.

What will be interesting to see is whether Rebel continues to integrate with the plethora of email service providers it currently works with, or if Salesforce will keep the functionality for itself. Today Rebel’s partners include Oracle, SendGrid, Adobe, IBM, SailThru and, yes, Salesforce.

We’ll update this post as we learn more.

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