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Fancy is said to weigh possible sale for about $1 billion

September 5, 2014 03:59 PM

Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) -- The Fancy, a customer-curated Web retailer, has been holding discussions to sell itself for about $1 billion after struggling to raise financing, according to people familiar with the matter.

The startup has held talks with eBay Inc., said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. The status of those talks is unclear. The Fancy had been working to raise a round of financing at a valuation of around $1.2 billion, Bloomberg News reported in June.

Joe Einhorn, chief executive officer of The Fancy, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for eBay, said the company doesn’t comment on rumors.

The Fancy, based in New York, last year raised $53 million from investors including American Express Co., billionaire Len Blavatnik and actor Will Smith at a valuation of $600 million. The startup is having talks with strategic buyers after months of trying to find investors for more funding at the higher value, said the people familiar with the matter.

The company, which used to be called Thing Daemon Inc., sells luxury lifestyle items such as $9 waterproof lights to put in cocktails, $205 magnetic coat hangers and a $120 bird feeder that connects with an iPhone to take pictures of birds. When a potential customer likes an item, they can buy it or click to “fancy” it, giving it higher prominence on the site. The items can be bought without leaving The Fancy’s website.

EBay, based in San Jose, California, is in a position to increase its dealmaking. The company, led by CEO John Donahoe, in April said it’s taking a $3 billion tax charge to potentially return $9 billion in profits to the U.S. The money could be returned to shareholders or used for acquisitions, executives said at the time.

In a July interview, EBay’s president of the marketplace business, Devin Wenig, said he anticipated consolidation in the e-commerce market.

In the U.S., “it’s easier to start an e-commerce company than scale it,” he said at the time.

 

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