According to PEHub, a regulatory filing revealed that CafePress has recently raised $8.3 million in Series C venture funding from Sequoia Capital, who also invested $14 million in a previous round. This brings the total funding of the online retailer of user-generated personalized products to $23.8 million.
Launched in 1999, CafePress enables its users to design, buy and sell expressive merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, bags, mugs, bumper stickers and the likes. CafePress handles the merchandising process and returns a cut of the revenue from sold inventory to its users. The company boasts serving a network of over 6.5 million members trading 150 million+ products, and also claims to receive 11 million unique visitors per month on average.
CafePress even made its first acquisition last Summer, and a significant one at that, buying Imagekind for $15-$20 million in cash and stock. The company has recently announced plans to expand internationally by taking its marketplaces to other English speaking nations like the UK, Canada and Australia.
CafePress claims to be profitable, which of course raises the question why the extra funding was needed to begin with. Most likely, the investors are providing CafePress with a safety cushion for the future consequences of the current economic downturn, as well as the necessary capital for the company to expand its base operations into even more countries.
For the sake of comparison: $28.3 million is only half of the backing that head-to-head competitor Zazzle has received to date, yet both Compete and Quantcast suggest that it receives twice as much traffic. Spreadshirt is another noteworthy player.
Update: CafePress has responded, saying that this story is incorrect:
We did not raise venture funding, nor have we raised funding from Sequoia since our series B in 2005. The Form D notice was filed with the SEC because we issued $8.29 million shares of stock back in July.
PEHub mistook a Form D notice which was filed with the SEC because CafePress issued $8.29 million shares of stock back in July.
Update 2: Dan Primack at PEHub explains what went wrong.
Update 3: Below is the SEC Reg. D filing in question, which does clearly state that the company sold $8.3 million worth of securities in July (page 3) to investors including Douglas Leone (a VC at Sequoia Capital) and OpenTable CEO Jeff Jordan. But as indicated above, this was actually an issuing of existing shares rather than a sale of new ones. The new SEC form that CafePress used does not make this clear. So much for transparency.