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Kite Closes on $200 Mn of Equity;Rob Solomon to lead the company

Investment from Blackstone and Juxtapose will fuel the development of a modern, technology-driven commerce platform that will invest in, acquire, and operate high-potential brands.

Kite, a next-generation commerce company specializing in scaling high-potential brands, announced today that it has closed on a commitment of $200 million in equity from funds managed by Blackstone and founding partner Juxtapose. The company will be led by Rob Solomon, former CEO and Chairman of GoFundMe, who brings over two decades of experience in product and business development, operations management, M&A, and brand launches to his role as Kite Co-Founder and CEO.

Kite is an “every channel” commerce platform designed from the ground up to support digital-first consumer product brands. Leveraging the collective reach of Blackstone’s and Juxtapose’s resources, the company will be able to pursue transformational growth opportunities in the e-commerce space in ways that entrepreneurs, on their own, likely would not be able to do. This includes harnessing the AI and the API economy to build a modern technology stack that will drive manufacturing, supply chain, design, and customer acquisition excellence at scale. Kite will initially focus on investing in and acquiring high-quality brands that help people invest in personal growth, nurture the people, pets, and places they cherish, and equip themselves for life’s everyday adventures.

“Today, entrepreneurial brands aren’t set up to thrive because commerce infrastructures are siloed, fragmented, and inefficient,” said Solomon. “Creating extreme efficiencies across a product’s commerce journey is the path to unlocking its greatest potential. At Kite, we are reimagining how products are made, moved, stored, shipped, and sold—at scale. As we build upon the platform’s suite of companies and products, the more insights we will glean on consumer preferences, buying behavior, and brand-customer engagement. As the platform matures and expands, we will refine our ability to make data-driven strategic decisions to intelligently scale our brands.”

“We believe consumer-facing commerce is in the early innings of a revolution as meaningful as the rise of the Sears Catalog or the Walmart Super Store,” said Jed Cairo, Co-Founder and Partner at Juxtapose, a leading creation-oriented investment firm. “More and more categories are moving away from brands advantaged by hyper-scale, TV advertising, and big box retail relationships to specialized, smaller, high-passion brands that are nimble and powered by world-class technology. Rob’s experiences scaling novel commerce businesses at Groupon and GoFundMe make him the perfect partner to bring this vision to life.”

Senior Leadership Appointments

In addition to supporting M&A activity, this new round of funding will enable Kite to continue building out its team across all functions, including tech, supply chain, growth and marketing, design, and M&A.

Rob Solomon, Co-Founder and CEO of Kite, was previously CEO and Chairman of GoFundMe, where he scaled the business from $2 billion in donations raised to over $15 billion coming from 100M+ donors globally. Prior to GoFundMe, he served as President and COO of Groupon, where he led the company in creating a novel way for small businesses to meet customers online, making Groupon one of the fastest growing companies at the time. During his tenure, he grew the team from 100 to 7,500 employees within two years. Earlier in his career, Solomon ran the Commerce Business Unit at Yahoo, and was the CEO at Sidestep, an early Online Travel Agent, which he merged with Kayak. He has also held roles as Venture Partner at TCV, and Accel, and Board Member of HomeAway.

Additional recent key leadership hires include:

  • John Kufner, who brings supply chain, operations, and consumer product experience from previous leadership roles at Bain Capital Portfolio Group, Werner Ladder, Fortune Brands, Masonite and Owens Corning, to Kite as Chief Operations Officer.
  • Ujjwal Singh, who has previously held positions at Facebook, Google, and GoFundMe, and will join Kite as Chief Product and Technology Officer.
  • Nastasha Tan, who brings experience at Ideo and Uber, to her role as Kite’s Chief Design Officer.
  • James Chen, CTO of Built Technologies and former CTO of Flexport, one of the first digitizers of supply chain, who joins Kite as a member of its Board of Directors. Throughout his career at Flexport, Amazon, and Rakuten, Chen has built industry-leading global logistics, shipping, and end-to-end commerce technologies, along with the product and engineering teams needed to bring them to life.
  • Mark Mitchke, President and CEO of Delta Dental and former VP and GM of Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), who has joined Kite’s Board of Directors. Mitchke’s work at Amazon empowered hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses around the world and quadrupled sales for the company.

“Amazon democratized global consumer sales, empowering millions of small businesses to create, market, sell and deliver branded products to customers around the world,” said Mitchke. “Under Rob Solomon’s leadership, Kite is building a world class team and commerce platform to reimagine how the best emerging brands scale to reach more customers, design inspired products and deliver sustainable growth.”

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