Birchbox, which offers a monthly subscription box full of new cosmetics and beauty products, is crossing the Atlantic with the acquisition of Paris-based JolieBox (which offers a nearly identical service in Europe). Terms of the deal aren't being disclosed.
“We knew it was always on the roadmap for Birchbox to be global,” said Birchbox's co-chief executive Katia Beauchamp. “What we offer resonates globally with consumers and, furthermore, we work with so many global brands that we wanted to serve them in other markets.”
Birchbox's strategy is to be a powerful customer acquisition tool for beauty brands and products. Every month for $10, the Accel-backed company sends its subscribers a box full of sample products ranging from lotions to lipstick and mascara. If customers like what they see, they can go on Birchbox's site and buy more, giving the company affiliate revenue (which is actually a significant part of the its overall business). Birchbox had at least 100,000 subscribers as of April, but they haven't updated that number since.
With the JolieBox acquisition, Birchbox gets about 35 employees plus a presence in France, the UK, and several other continental markets.
“We're not disclosing the exact number of subscribers JolieBox brings, but it's a significant increase for us,” Beauchamp said. “It gives us a great headstart.”
Unlike purely web-based products or mobile apps, e-commerce startups often have to buy competitors abroad for international reach (because on-the-ground presence is necessary and there are higher barriers to entry in local markets). To make it internationally, Groupon had to acquire numerous group-buying clones abroad, most notably Germany's CityDeal from the Samwer brothers. Notably, the Samwers' clone Glossybox is not the target of this acquisition.
Expect Birchbox to continue doing the same going forward. They've raised nearly $12 million in two rounds from Accel Partners, Harrison Metal, First Round, Forerunner Ventures, and Lerer Ventures.
“We know we will continue to look at global opportunities,” Beauchamp said. “We want to be the definitive market leader, so we'll be looking beyond Europe and in Asia and South America.”