Mom-centric flash-sale site Zulily files for $100M IPO

Unlike its daily deals brethren, Zulily.com -- focused squarely on high-end clothing and toys for moms, babies, and kids -- appears on the rise.

SEC/Zulily

Zulily.com, the flash-sale retailer focused squarely on Net-savvy moms, filed its paperwork Tuesday to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering.

The $100 million figure is a placeholder amount, the company said, also noting that Goldman Sachs Group, Bank of America, and Citigroup are managing the sale. Zulily hopes to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol ZU.

Zulily CEODarrell Cavens LinkedIn

Zulily declined an interview request on the filing due legal constraints during the so-called "quiet period," which takes place after the S-1 is filed but before the SEC staff declares it effective.

Seattle-based Zulily.com, launched in 2010 by former Blue Nile executives Darrell Cavens and Mark Vadon, offers daily deals on high-end clothing, toys, and gear for women, children, and babies. The private, curated sales usually last for about three days, and merchandise from popular venders gets swooped up very quickly. You need to be invited to join, and members get shopping credits for getting members to sign up.

Zulily described itself in the filing as a disruptive e-commerce company:

We distinguish ourselves by offering a fresh and affordable selection of products that inspires moms to shop. Our merchandising team constantly scours the market for new and unique brands in children's apparel, women's apparel and other product categories, such as toys, infant gear, kitchen accessories and home décor. Once we find these brands, we invest in photography and editorial content to tell each brand's story in our fun and engaging voice. We then sell these products through our flash sales model, creating an impulse-driven shopping experience that delivers entertainment, value and convenience for moms anytime and anywhere.

The company posted $331 million in revenue last year, up from $143 million in 2011, according to the S-1 filing. It lost $10.3 million last year, but then profited $2.3 million in the first half of 2013. Its customer base has also grown with 2.2 million active customers -- defined as members who made at least one purchase in the last year -- as of July 30. That's up from 1.2 million active members in July 2012.

And its staff grew from 329 in December 2011 to 886 as of June of this year. It plans to "add a significant number of employees during the remainder of 2013," according to the filing.

Zulily has also kept a close eye on mobile, something Twitter is being careful to emphasize after watching Facebook's early missteps . "Increasingly, moms are shopping at Zulily throughout their day from their mobile devices, and as a result we have optimized our platform for mobile shopping," the company wrote in its filing, later noting that in the second quarter of 2013, 42 percent of US orders were placed on a mobile device.

Zulily's success is not in line with some of its struggling deals site brethren. Fab.com, for example, just announced layoffs related to the company's shift from focusing on "flash-sales," which it has said was not profitable. Likewise, daily deals sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have been struggling for a while now, leaving some to question whether the business is doomed.

About the author

Michelle Meyers, associate editor, has been writing and editing CNET News stories since 2005. But she's still working to shed some of her old newspaper ways, first honed when copy was actually cut and pasted. When she's not fixing typos and tightening sentences, she's working with reporters on story ideas, tracking media happenings, or freshening up CNET News' home page.

 

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