Feb 11, 2020 - Economy & Business

Online dollar store Hollar to wind down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Hollar, an e-commerce company that raised more than $75 million in VC funding, is expected to wind down soon, Axios has learned from multiple sources.

Between the lines: It's been a very tough month for direct-to-consumer startups, beginning with Casper Sleep's uninspired IPO and Monday's shutdown of SoftBank-backed Brandless.

  • Los Angeles-based Hollar launched in 2015 to help users find dollar store-like bargains on branded consumables, ranging from kitchen goods to toys to beauty products.
  • The company's co-founders were Brian Lee, who previously led ShoeDazzle and The Honest Company, and former Honest Co. executive David Yeom.
  • Hollar investors included Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, B Capital Group, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Greycroft, Comcast Ventures, Forerunner Ventures and Troy Capital Partners.

The big picture: Hollar's thesis was that dollar store denizens would buy multiple products at a time, thus alleviating pressure on shipping costs. But a source close to the situation says the unit economics never panned out.

The company is said to have started looking for a buyer late last year, and is in final negotiations with retailer Five Below, which would bring on more employees and at least some of the other assets.

Hollar's site and app are not expected to survive.

Axios has emailed Hollar and CEO Steve Oliver for comment, but has not yet heard back.

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Inside the fall of SoftBank-backed startup Brandless

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Brandless, the SoftBank-backed e-commerce startup that originally sold all of its products for $3, confirmed yesterday that it will shut down.

Behind the scenes: Sources say Brandless had sought a buyer, via a bank-led process, but was unable to garner any bids.

Activist investor Elliott Management knocks on SoftBank's gates

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: David A. Grogan/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Activist investor Elliott Management has acquired around a $2.5 billion stake in SoftBank Group, saying the market "significantly undervalues" the Japanese group's assets.

The state of play: So far the relationship appears to be friendly, but Elliott isn't shy about getting into the mud if that's where it feels the most profit lies.

Established VCs turn to "super angels" to grow their network

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thanks to companies like AngelList and Carta that make it easier than ever to set up small VC funds, a new generation of so-called “super angels” is cropping up — and established venture funds are backing them.

Why it matters: Just like the boom in scout programs a number of years ago, it’s all about the deal flow.