Rocket Internet’s Lazada Builds Out Its Marketplace Model, While Europe Fashion Portal Zalando Gets A New Investor

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Rocket Internet’s e-commerce properties continue their march towards new horizons in all corners of the globe: in Europe, ASOS-investor and fashion entrepreneur Anders Holch Povlsen has taken a 10% stake of Zappos clone Zalando, part of a secondary offering with existing shareholders selling portions of their stakes. And in Asia, Lazada has launched its Amazon-style marketplace in a bid to capture third-party Asian retailers.

However, while it pushes forward into new frontiers, it has withdrawn from others, shuttering its operations in Turkey, according to Turkish startups blog Webrazzi. It’s only selling products via its e-commerce properties such as Sporena, Evimister, and Zidaya, which are expected to be eventually switched off.

As is often the case with the Samwer brothers’ Rocket Internet, the incubator is not disclosing the financial value of the 10% stake, nor the bigger valuation of the company. It makes Bestseller-founder Povlsen, who already owns 30% of ASOS, another breakthrough online fashion retailer in Europe, the startup’s third biggest shareholder behind Investment AB Kinnevik (37%) and the European Founders Fund (EFF) (18%). Rocket Internet, meanwhile, “is just remaining with bits and pieces in Zalando,” a source told TechCrunch. “All of their shares have been transferred to either Kinnevik, EFF or Access.” (EFF, if you recall, is still Samwer, just in a different investment structure that includes companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Homeway, in addition to some of the startups incubated by Rocket Internet.)

Already owning some of Europe’s biggest fashion labels including JACK & JONES (At the time of posting, JACK & JONES was prominently displayed on the Zalando home page), and VERO MODA, Povlsen, who has been mentioned as a possible buyer of ASOS, is now well positioned to grow his stake in Zalando.

Povlsen acquired his shares from several early-stage investors including EFF. Zalando managing director Rubin Ritter said it was an important strategic development of the shareholder structure.

“Anders Holch Povlsen will be a strong and long-term-oriented shareholder and together we want to design the future of fashion e-commerce,” Ritter said in a statement.

The company’s valuation is believed to be growing and it appears the investment could be paid off sooner, rather than later. In 2013, Q1 revenues jumped 74% to €372 million, while at the end of 2012 Zalando achieved breakeven in its core regions of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Meanwhile, Lazada’s marketplace launch, which hopes to attract more sellers and buyers to its websites in Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, is a move straight from Amazon’s well-worn playbook of tapping into third-party retailers, offering smaller companies, as well as bigger ones looking to tap into portal traffic, logistics and fulfilment services, a back-end e-commerce engine and an online storefront. Lazada’s marketplace ambitions have been long in the planning, and follows directly from a $26 million investment from Summit Partners last year specifically to build out this business. The expansion represents Lazada’s first major development since June, when it closed a $100 million investment; it has raised $236 million raised since its launch in March 2012.

CEO Maximilian Bittner recently said it aimed to become the Amazon of south east Asia.

There were already 75 merchants signed up to the Malaysian marketplace, including Pineapple Computers founder Mark Lim, who told DigitalNewsAsia that joining the marketplace has boosted sales by 38%.

Additional reporting: Ingrid Lunden