The march into Asia continues for Fab, the online design retailer that raised $150 million in Series D funding in June. Today, the company announced a further $5 million extension to that round from ITOCHU Corp., a general trading company whose VC arm, ITOCHU Technology Ventures, also participated in the main Series D tranche. Jason Goldberg, Fab’s co-founder and CEO, also notes that the two are also working on a JV that will bring Fab to Japan in 2014.
ITOCHU Corp. is something of an institution in Japan: as a sogo shosha it has been in business or 150 years and has the country’s largest network of third-party logistics warehouses.
“Fab is one of the fastest growing e-commerce companies and the leading online design retailer in the US and Europe,” Shunsuke Noda, Chief Operating Officer of ICT, Insurance & Logistics Division in ITOCHU Corporation, said in a statement published on Goldberg’s blog. “We believe Fab has a huge potential to expand their business in Japan/Asia and we are very excited to work with Fab to realize their long-term vision of being the world’s design store.” Itochu’s VC arm has also invested in other startups such as Ooyala.
This latest injection less than two weeks after Fab announced an additional Series D extension of $10 million from Singapore’s SingTel, another strategic investor that will help the company expand in Asia.
The news of Fab’s sharpening focus on markets in the east comes at the same time that it has reigned in some of its growth in another international market: Europe.
The company in July laid off over 100 people based in its Berlin HQ — we actually heard closer to 150 at the time — a consequence, it says, of repositioning itself away from flash sales. That has also resulted the company also trying out other things, such as more social-media-minded Pinterest- and Fancy-style follower models to help users discover (and hopefully buy) things they might like. Today, some 40% of Fab’s international sales come from the UK, so it’s no surprise that the company is looking to diversify, both in terms of product and geography.
The gradual evolution of the company, however, has also put it into hot water with a Fab of a different stripe: the fashion e-commerce site JustFab is currently suing Fab for trademark infringement and loss of business.