Designer product site Fab now worth $1 billion

The site, which sells designer clothes, furniture, and other items, has just received an investment of $150 million from a group of investors, including Chinese Internet company Tencent Holdings.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Fab is now worth a cool $1 billion.

Self-dubbed the world's design store, Fab is an online retailer that sells quirky products, ranging from clothes to jewelry to furniture to food. Its "True Blood" shop, for example, allows fans of the HBO series to buy books, perfume, and even fangs to celebrate the show.

Chinese Internet site Tencent Holdings clearly sees something in Fab. The company has led a new investment round that kicked in $150 million, with Tencent snagging a spot on Fab's board.

Fab is now worth more than $1 billion -- not even counting the $150 million investment -- The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Why would Tencent and other investors kick in all that cash to a specialty retailer?

By investing in Fab and joining its board, Tencent could be looking for tips on how to expand its own e-commerce business to better compete in China, The Journal said. After just two years as an online retailer, Fab has chalked up 14 million registered users, up from just around 5 million a year ago. Though it has yet to earn a profit, Fab brought in around $120 million in revenue last year and is on target to reach $250 million this year.

Like other Chinese firms, Tencent has poured money into tech-oriented companies in the U.S. to help better understand how to succeed in new markets. In the past two years, Tencent has invested at least $700 million in U.S. video game companies, according to the Journal.

Fab itself has an interesting history. It started life as a gay social network before opening up shop as an Internet retailer two years ago.

Fab CEO Jason Goldberg told the Journal that the company will use the $150 million investment from Tencent and the other investors to expand its digital stores, create a new lineup of exclusive products, and continue its overseas expansion. Goldberg is looking for more funding to the tune of $50 million to $100 million from other investors during the next few months.

Correction at 2:45 a.m. PT June 20: Tencent is part of a group of investors that invested $150 million in Fab.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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