Amex Joins Flash Sale Space
American Express recently announced a new multi-year e-commerce deal to boost online business and establish ties with Web consumers. Amex plans to commit $100 million, with a focus on early stage e-commerce startups.
Amex’s new digital commerce initiative will be run from its new Silicon Valley office, with Harshul Sanghi at the helm as managing partner of the Enterprise Growth Group. Sanghi recently ran Motorola Mobility Ventures. The digital commerce initiative will evaluate potential investment opportunities in companies dealing with major features of the digital commerce experience, such as loyalty and rewards, mobile and online payment management, fee-based services, security and fraud detection and data analysis.
It looks like Amex has already made its first investment in the e-shopping space. According to Reuters, Amex has inked a deal with French startup Vente-Privee, a flash sale site. The duo just launched in the U.S. and hopes to hit $500 million in sales in five years. Competing with the likes of Rue La La, Gilt Groupe, and Amazon‘s MyHabit, Vente-Privee Founder and CEO Jacque-Antoine Grajon told Reuters joining forces with Amex gives them “access to an affluent client base of 40 million card holders.” He added that it would likely stick with the model of unloading luxury goods to fashionistas on a budget by obtaining merchandise from brands such as Armani and Diesel.
Vente-Privee has 7% profit margins and is 80% owned by the founders, with the remainder owned by PE fund Summit Partners. Both Vente-Privee and Amex committed $15-20 million to the JV, according to Reuters. The JV is run out of New York by Google Vet Mike Steib. They are set to hire about 200 before year’s end.