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#168 – Amazon delays new seller fees & Temu’s extreme non-compete clauses

by | Apr 8, 2024 | Recent Newsletters

Hi Shopifreaks!

Before we begin this week, I wanted to share that I launched my new What's Next series on LinkedIn. My goal with this series is to publish bite-sized written interviews with tech founders who have created products that more folks in e-commerce should know about.

My first interview, which you can read here on LinkedIn, was with Kevin Hanna, founder of Polls Platform. Check out the interview to learn how Kevin turned a natural consumer behavior into a new revenue channel for stores.

Moving forward, I'll be publishing new interviews each Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, so be sure to connect with me on LinkedIn to follow along with the series. If you find a particular technology interesting, please share the interview with your network on LinkedIn to help these founders reach the right audiences with their startups.

Please note that these are non-sponsored interviews. My goal with the series is merely to help my readers discover new technology that could benefit their e-commerce businesses, and simultaneously help startup founders reach their target audiences. If you've got a SaaS product or e-commerce startup that more people should know about, comment on my original post and let me know if you'd like to participate in the new series.

And now onto your regularly scheduled content…

In this week's edition I cover:

  • Amazon delaying their new controversial seller fees
  • Temu officially opening its marketplace to US sellers
  • Temu's extreme non-compete practices
  • Telegram launching business features
  • Lowe's & DoorDash looking to make DIY projects easier
  • Klarna's new hub for lender transparency
  • Salesforce adding new AI capabilities to its B2B platform
  • Shopify poaching Salesforce veterans
  • Blue check marks are back (even if you don't want one)!

All this and more in this week's 168th Edition of Shopifreaks. Thanks for subscribing and sharing!

PS: Sorry for the delay switching EMS providers, but this should be the last week that I send an e-mail edition without source links (which is due to deliverability issues with Mailchimp). Please note that you can view the source links in my web edition and LinkedIn version of the newsletter. 

Stat of the Week

Americans were scammed out of over $1 million in online puppy frauds last year. The Better Business Bureau warned consumers that about 80% of sponsored pet advertisements online are possibly fake. — According to Business Insider

1. Amazon pauses low inventory fee for one month

Amazon decided to pause its new controversial low-inventory fee that was to take effect on April 1st. Well, technically the company will still charge affected sellers as planned, but will credit them back at the end of the month. Amazon is referring to this grace period as a “transition period” that will show sellers how they would be affected by the new low-inventory fee without yet having to pay for it.

Backstory: In December, Amazon announced two new seller fees. 

  1. Low Inventory Fee – Amazon will begin charging a low-inventory-level fee when the product's historical days of supply, a proprietary metric which Amazon describes as, “the product’s inventory levels relative to actual historical sales,” is below 28 days. The 28 days of supply is calculated based on long-term (last 90 days) and short-term (last 30 days) historical sales. This fee went into effect April 1st. 
  2. Inbound Placement Fee – This fee is charged to FBA sellers, as of March 1st, if they don't ship their inventory to at least 4 different Amazon warehouses, whereas historically Amazon footed the bill for distributing inventory between its warehouses. Sellers can avoid the fee by either shipping to at least 4 warehouses themselves or using the pay-as-you-go Amazon Warehousing and Distribution storage service.

Sellers Hate It: The fee announcements caused a ton of backlash from third party sellers. Constantine Kirillov, co-founder of home décor third-party seller Comfify, summed it up nicely saying, “You have too little—you pay low level fees. You have to much—you pay storage fees. Sales are not linear or consistent for any product. There is seasonality, economy, delays due to Amazon, carriers, etc. Because none of these variable[s] are [in] our control, this fee is simply ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ tax. There is no margin left to squeeze.”

The fees would also impact sellers who are discontinuing products, which is objectively insane. Now Amazon will be charging sellers who are attempting to sell through their remaining inventory for not having enough inventory!

Amazon Loves It: The company defended its new fees, arguing that maintaining sufficient inventory levels allows Amazon to effectively distribute products across its fulfillment network, which in turn improves shipping speeds for customers and drives more sales.

Amazon VP Dharmesh Mehta posted on LinkedIn, “We have heard feedback from a number of sellers that they are uncertain about how, if at all, the new fee will impact their business. To help address these questions and ensure sellers better understand how or if the fee will impact them, we have decided to have the month of April 2024 be a transition period for which all of these low-inventory-level fees will be credited back to sellers.”

However his post was a bit tone deaf. Most of the feedback I read from sellers wasn't about wondering if the fee will impact their business; it was about how the fee is ridiculous and how Amazon is making it impossible to sell on their platform by squeezing from every direction.

Another big complaint was that sellers don't know how to properly avoid this new low-inventory-fee. It was hard enough keeping inventory low enough to avoid long term storage fees, but now sellers have to find a sweet spot of not too much, not too little, and then continually maintain that sweet spot to avoid fees in either direction. 

The new fees caught the attention of the FTC last month who began examining them, but so far nothing has come of it. 

Amazon's fee structure has objectively gotten out of hand in the past decade. It's so convoluted that it's become almost impossible for a seller to project how much fees they'll be paying Amazon to sell and fulfill items on their marketplace.

As a seller, it'd be so much easier to pay three flat fees — a seller fee, a fulfillment fee, and a storage fee (from day one). And from there, Amazon can decide how and where to disperse the inventory. Isn't that supposed to be their end of the bargain anyway?

Instead Amazon's like, “Hey sellers, do the job for us that our advanced algorithms and AI models are supposed to be doing for you. Here's a 3,000+ word article that contains 600+ field tables for you to figure out what you're going to get charged.”

I'm just trying to sell a coloring poster, Amazon. Give me a break.

2. Temu officially opens to US sellers

In January I reported (story #4) that Temu was planning to open its marketplace to US & EU sellers — first with US sellers in March and then to EU sellers a month later.

Unlike with its Chinese merchants, sellers in the US and EU will not ship goods to Temu’s warehouses in China, and will instead handle fulfillment themselves from their domestic warehouses. Temu will also not manage pricing or marketing, mimicking the Amazon, eBay, and Walmart marketplaces.

True to their word, Temu's marketplace officially opened for business to US sellers. The platform is highlighting product listings from US sellers with a small badge that says “local warehouse” as well as a badge on their storefronts that says “faster delivery.”

In addition to faster delivery, working with domestic sellers also means that Temu can begin selling larger and/or more expensive items.

Historically, since Temu has been operating under the de minimis rule, it needed to keep all shipments under $800 in order to fall under the duty-free threshold for imports — which means no individual product could exceed that price because then Temu couldn't divide the order into multiple shipments. However now, as long as an item ships from a US warehouse, the platform can let you “shop like a billionaire” with deep discounts on higher end items as well, which will also mean more revenue for Temu in seller fees. 

And guess what? Temu doesn't charge a low-inventory fee!

Will you be listing items for sale on Temu? Hit reply and let me know. 

3. Temu's extreme non-compete practices

In other Temu news this week, the company is under heat for its extreme non-compete practices. While PDD Holdings, the parent company of Temu, is known in China for its generous pay and prestigious positions, the trouble for some workers comes after they leave. Here are a few stories:

  • One former mid-level manager signed a noncompete before he left the company in 2021. His next venture was a small business selling weight-loss supplements online that brought him in $2,800 a month. Last year PDD sued him, and he was ordered to pay more than $1M in compensation for competing in the same space as his former employer.
  • One Temu employee said PDD assigns a human-resources representative to monitor the activities and career movements of each mid-level manager who leaves the company, sometimes going as far as hiring external agencies to track where former employees went or what businesses they started.
  • Several former employees said PDD has cited their real-time locations and social-security payment records as evidence that they have taken jobs at competitors.
  • Employees say they are discouraged from socializing at work, and cross-department collaboration is strictly controlled.
  • When one Temu employee asked for product info from another team to prepare budgets for a campaign, she was given a spreadsheet with all the product details redacted, even though the two teams were collaborating on the same project.
  • PDD workers are actively discouraged from asking each other's real names and often refer to each other with pseudonyms, which PDD says encourages a “more open and dynamic culture” and helps break down hierarchies in China’s corporate culture. They only occasionally learn each other's real names when they go on business trips together and smash.
  • A 25-year-old woman who resigned from a PDD position as a purchaser in its grocery division due to health issues was ordered to pay PDD $36,000 — the equivalent of two years of her PDD salary — for taking a job with a competitor before the end of her nine-month non-compete period.
  • One junior worker who left the company after four months is now subject to a penalty of $59,000 after PDD deemed him to have violated his noncompete.

The US has in recent years moved away from the use of non-compete agreements in job contracts, and the FTC is leading an effort to ban such agreements, citing concerns about their potential to stifle competition and hurt workers.

However in China, it's becoming increasingly common for tech companies to require lower-level or mid-level workers to sign the agreements, even though China's Labor Contract Law says non-compete restrictions should only apply to senior executives and others with confidentiality obligations.

PDD said it uses non-compete agreements in a “limited and responsible manner” and strictly adheres to the law and best industry practices.

4. Telegram launches business features & ad revenue sharing

Telegram is launching a suite of business features designed to help businesses attract and communicate with new customers. Features include the ability for businesses to:

  • Display their hours of operation
  • Link to a map with their store location
  • Showcase info about products and services
  • Send preset messages and greeting messages for first-time users
  • Share links to reserve a table or track an order
  • Access chatbots to process and answer customer inquiries automatically

Telegram's new business features are included at no additional charge for users who subscribe to their $4.99/month Premium account, which includes a host of other features like expanded chat capabilities, personalization options, and an ad-free experience.  The company hopes that the new business features will incentivize more small business owners to subscribe to Premium, which currently has over 5M subscribers as of January 2024.

The company said more features will roll out to Telegram Business in future updates.

Telegram also added new a advertising offering: 

  • Channel owners with at least 1,000 subscribers can now receive 50% of the revenue from ads displayed in their channels.
  • Advertisers can purchase ads using “Toncoins” — a token on the TON blockchain — to make the payments. Channel owners can either withdraw the tokens with no fees, or choose to reinvest them into more Telegram ads, collectible usernames or Premium giveaways.

The company says, “Telegram ads are very different from ads on other apps. They are shown only in large public channels. They never appear in your chats, chat list or other interfaces. Telegram ads are not based on user data. They depend only on the channel in which you see them – and they directly benefit channel owners.”

That's pretty huge! Revenue sharing could be a big incentive for community managers to host their channels on Telegram as opposed to Facebook Groups or Reddit. It's also a big deal that Telegram is offering advertisers such control over where their ads appear, as opposed to the “trust us, we're showing your ads to the right people” model that other social media and messaging companies have employed.

5. Lowe's and DoorDash partner up for delivery

Lowe's and DoorDash are partnering up to offer on-demand delivery from more than 1,700 of the retailer's stores nationwide, marking the first time DoorDash has offered delivery in the home improvement space. Lowe's has had a similar deal with Instacart since 2022.

So now you can order an LG Smart Refrigerator for delivery, and your DoorDash driver who drives a 1997 Toyota Camry will get the notification and be like, “Are you kidding me?!?! Oh but they tipped… okay, accept.”

Just kidding — the DoorDash partnership is limited to smaller items like gardening tools, spring cleaning essentials, lightbulbs, and other items that can easily fit in the trunk of a car. At least I think that's the case. Neither the press release or subsequent coverage mentioned anything about product size restrictions, so perhaps it's up to the DoorDash driver to accept or deny the order based on their car size and willingness to carry heavy objects? Lowe's has offered free home delivery on appliances for many years now, so I imagine they'd steer customers to that delivery method when applicable, however, I'm not certain if the large appliances appear within the DoorDash app either way. If you have any clarification on that matter, please comment on my LinkedIn post.

Lowe’s stores will be available on DashPass, DoorDash’s membership program that offers members a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fee on eligible orders, so the new partnership could provide members with an incredibly efficient and affordable way to avoid walking into a Lowe's store.

With the addition of the home improvement retailer to its app, DoorDash now has more than 150,000 non-restaurant stores across its marketplace including groceries, household retail, flowers, and more.

Do you ever read the DoorDash horror stories on r/doordash about drivers eating customer fries or delivering their entire meal to a gas station instead of their home? I'm curious how Lowe's will handle the first time a $600 drill is delivered to the wrong address.

6. Klarna launches Wikipink for added transparency

Klarna launched its new Wikipink product, a data hub with information on how clients across the globe use the company's solutions. The hub includes statistics about repayment rates, debt collection, defaults, and consumer age demographics.

The company hopes that Wikipink adds a new level of transparency to its operations amid the growing scrutiny over BNPL providers, some of which is based on inaccurate statistics. The Wikipink landing page reads: 

Wikipink has been developed by Klarna with the objective of promoting transparency and facilitating fact-based discussions on various topics related to Klarna and the global credit market.

By providing reliable, accurate, and unbiased information, Wikipink aims to educate and empower people to learn more about Klarna by sharing insights that are typically guarded secrets among traditional shopping, payments, and banking companies.

Here are a few highlights from the US Wiki

  • Last year, over 90% of purchases were made with Klarna's interest-free Pay in 4 option.
  • 31% of Klarna BNPL customers paid their bills off early, 65% paid on time, 4% incurred a late fee, and half of those late fee recipients were sent to collections.
  • In comparison, Klarna states that 51% of Americans can’t pay off their entire balance each month and instead let it revolve to the next month, accruing interest, according to JD Power.
  • Klarna's late fee percentage has declined to 4% from almost 8% in 2021.
  • 99% of payments have been repaid since Klarna's launch in 2005, with only a 1% default rate.

Klarna says, “Any late payment is a failure on us. It's not in our interest to lend to people who can't pay us back. In fact, this impacts our business negatively.”

The Wikipink hub feels very promotionally-heavy to me. Each number shared within the report has an agenda, such as to exemplify why Klarna's installment payments are a better option than traditional credit cards. I would have preferred that Wikipink dove deeper into the specifics of each stat and provided more details and historic data as opposed to just giving us big picture numbers, fancy charts, and a marketing pitch with each caption. 

It would've been interesting to learn more about the demographics of their users, credit scores, average order values, percentage of applicants rejected, which product categories had the highest default rate, etc.

For example, all they wrote under age demographics was, “The average age of a Klarna user in the US is 36, and our fastest growing segment is Boomers (50+).” However given that the average age in the US is right around that number, it's not really that revealing of a stat. And if boomers are the fastest growing segment (which increases the average age), does that mean that Gen Z were previously the biggest users? So many unanswered questions…

I guess in today's day and age, we'll take whatever we can get when it comes to transparency. However it's unfortunate that the bar is set so low.

7. Salesforce adds new AI capabilities to its B2B commerce platform

Salesforce introduced five new commerce offerings in the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform, which include:

  1. Einstein Copilot for B2B buyers – an AI assistant that lets B2B buyers use plain-language prompts and photos to identify desired products, receive personalized recommendations, and engage in “nuanced conversations with a business on any digital channel.”
  2. AI-driven goal-setting and recommendations – which lets B2B sellers set growth targets and goals such as higher profit margins and average order values.
  3. Generative SEO metadata optimization – uses its Einstein AI platform to make SEO recommendations for sellers to modify their meta titles and descriptions.
  4. Enterprise-scale carts and split shipments – supports up to 2,000 line items in a single online shopping cart for large-volume transactions.
  5. Native merchant services – integrates shipping, tax, and checkout processes in Commerce Cloud to make setting up integrations with outside applications easier.

The new features are all available out-of-the-box with Commerce Cloud for no extra charge. However users will need to connect with a sales rep to access the new Gen AI and Copilot features. If they sound familiar, many of the features were adapted from Salesforce's B2C offering to now work with B2B sales.

8. Shopify is poaching Salesforce veterans and customers

I guess Salesforce better improve its platform while it still can because Shopify is coming for their enterprise team!

Shopify has hired at least two dozen account executives and several engineering leaders from Salesforce since 2021 on its quest to push into enterprise e-commerce. Most recent hires include: 

  • Kal Stephen, who joined Shopify as the head of enterprise fo the lifestyle vertical in January after more than six years as a sales leader for Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
  • Holly Dresden, who joined Shopify as head of enterprise merchant success in December after six years with Salesforce.

As it moves further into enterprise, Shopify isn't being shy about zeroing in on Salesforce as a competitor. It recently launched a webpage comparing its platform with Salesforce Commerce Cloud, encouraging merchants to “join the mass migration” of brands moving from Salesforce to Shopify.

Two weeks ago I reported (story #3) that Shopify released a bold statistic claiming that its total cost of ownership was 36% better than its competitors including Salesforce, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Adobe.

Michael Affronti, senior VP for Salesforce Commerce Cloud, said in an interview that Shopify's assertion about TCO is like comparing “apples to oranges” because most of Salesforce's customers are multinational businesses with hundreds of sites. He said that most enterprise customers “are typically less concerned with the TCO as much as they are about how fast they are going to get a payback for it in terms of site speed improvement, conversion, et cetera.”

Salesforce also said that it regularly gets inquiries from Shopify merchants who want to make the switch because Shopify's platform doesn't have some advanced capabilities like the ability to implement dynamic pricing based on state liquor laws, for example. However to be fair, we could sit here all day and cherry pick examples of how one platform didn't suit the needs of a particular customer from either company.

Either way, the competition between Shopify and legacy enterprise commercial solutions is heating up. 

9. Other e-commerce news of interest

Poshmark is partnering with seven brands to host a series of live shopping events during Earth Month (which is April for those who didn't know). Brands including Rothy's, Christy Dawn, Pact, Wolven, Cleobella, Whimsy + Row, and Aday will hold live events on the platform for the first time via the company's Posh Show live shopping feature, to spotlight circular fashion and connect with audiences. Poshmark will donate 10% of the net GMV from each show to tree planting efforts.

The New York Times claims in a new report that OpenAI, Google, and Meta may have acted dubiously in training their AI models, and the publisher is suing OpenAI over the claims. The report says that OpenAI and Google used speech recognition tools to transcribe audio from YouTube videos and generate new conversational text for AI training, and that Meta considered buying publisher Simon & Schuster LLC and negotiating licenses with other publishers, but decided it would take too long and considered simply dealing with the lawsuits.

Amazon is removing its Just Walk Out cashierless checkouts from its Fresh supermarkets in the US and instead will rely more heavily on Dash Carts, which track and tally up items as shoppers place them in their carts, enabling them to skip the checkout line. Amazon's Go convenience stores will continue to use Just Walk Out technology, along with smaller Fresh locations in the UK, and the company will continue to license the cashierless system to third parties (if anyone actually wants it). Personally, as a retailer, I wouldn't invest in a technology that Amazon is removing from its own stores. The day after this news broke, it was reported that Amazon Web Services laid off several hundred employees in its division that works on technology for retail stores, as well as several hundred more people in its sales, marketing, and global services division. 

A Montreal attorney alleged that Temu ha been collecting biometric information from their customers without proper authorization, including facial recognition patterns, fingerprint data, and voice recognition details. Additionally the attorney claims that Temu has been gathering geospatial data to track a user’s location history, which is not relevant to online shopping. Temu says it follows the principle of “minimality” when it comes to data collection, meaning it only collects and uses the data necessary for specific, justified scenarios. 

Blue check marks are back on X — even for folks who don't want them! The platform is now giving blue checks to users who have more than 2,500 “verified” followers, which are people who subscribe to X Premium. Some users were excited about the verification, but many others were frustrated with receiving the blue check mark, which has become a badge of shame in some circles. 

According to new Oceana report, Amazon generated 208 million pounds of plastic packaging waste for all transactions in the United States in 2022, a 9.6% increase over Oceana’s estimate for 2021. The organization says that this is enough trash to circle Earth more than 200 times with plastic air pillows. Amazon claims that it's reduced its use of plastic packaging 11.6% in 2022 compared to the year prior, but the US is the company's biggest market, and Oceana argues that it's where Amazon needs to make a lot more progress.

Meta lost three top AI employees last week as the battle for skilled AI workers heats up. WSJ reported last June that Meta had already lost a third of its AI researchers due to burnout or lack of faith in the company, and The Information reported last week that Mark Zuckerberg has been attempting to woo researchers from Google's DeepMind to join the company with personal e-mails.

Walmart increased the return shipping rate for orders fulfilled by third-party sellers, effective March 20th. The company noted “changing market conditions” for the rate increase and says that its rates are the lowest in the industry and that this is the first rate increase in two years. Walmart also recommended that sellers adopt a “Keep It Rule” for unwanted returns, which allows the customers to keep their items and still receive a fund when initiating returns online or inside Walmart stores. LOL, that won't get abused quicky by Walmart shoppers.

Temu is suing seven different websites it claims have infringed on its trademarks by creating either false websites or unauthorized Temu apps for download. Temu is seeking permanent enjoinment from present and future use of the Temu trademarks among the defendants, as well as $2M in damages for each and every use of the Temu marks.

Meta is testing offering cash bonuses to creators who make engaging content for its Threads app, beginning with a small batch of creators in the US. Eligible creators can earn money from Threads content based on the performance of the posts or the number of posts shared to the app. Threads posts with less than 2,500 eligible views are not eligible for payouts.

PandaBuy suffered a cyber attack in which sensitive data on more than one million users was stolen via hackers abusing multiple flaws in the platform's API. PandaBuy confirmed the hack and urged users to reset their passwords immediately. Can't they just force require a password reset for all affected users? Who's going to tell them?

Vroom completed the previously announced wind-down of its e-commerce and used vehicle dealership businesses. The company ended transactions through and sold its used vehicle inventory. It will continue to serve customers through its vehicle financing and AI-powered analytics and digital services platform for automotive retailers.

Amazon is looking to slash unused offices across its real estate portfolio to catch up with shifts in remote and hybrid work as a result of the pandemic. The company is letting some leases expire and terminating others to trim its inventory of empty offices, and expects to reduce its current office vacancy rate of nearly 34% to 10% over the next three to five years to save about $1.3B in annual operating expenses.

Adalytics released a new report alleging that Forbes systematically misled advertisers into believing they were buying media on when they were actually buying ads on a secret, spammy, made for advertising subdomain, The subdomain has allegedly been serving ads since at least May 2017 on top of longer format content like listicles and slideshows created from repurposed Forbes articles. While a reader on Forbes's primary domain encounters between 3 to 10 ads through an article, viewers of the subdomain were seeing over 200 ads during a single page view. Forbes has shuttered the subdomain since the report came out.

Google is suing two app developers based in China over an alleged “pig butchering” scheme that targeted over 100k users during the past four years. Google alleges that the scammers lured victims with “promises of high returns” from apps offering investment opportunities in cryptocurrencies and other products, but when users went to withdraw the funds, they discovered that they could not. By using Google products to promote their wares, the scammers “have threatened the integrity of Google Play and the user experience.”

Spotify is raising the price of its audio streaming service by $1 to $2 per month in several key markets this month including the UK, Australia, and Pakistan, with plans to raise prices in the US, its largest territory, latest this year. The higher prices are to help cover the cost of audiobooks, which Spotify introduced late last year.

USPS Ground Advantage has slowed to a crawl according to some online sellers, who say that some of their shipped packages are taking up to 5-7 weeks to get to their destination even if it's only a state away. This substantial delay is resulting in buyers submitting claims for never receiving their packages (which is true), getting a full refund, and then receiving the package several weeks later. eBay pledged to protect sellers who run into problems as a result of the widespread USPS delays.

Speaking of package couriers, FedEx and UPS will begin adding surcharges for deliveries in 82 zip codes this month, including in major metropolitan areas like Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The fees range in price from $3.95 to $5.85 but can climb higher in areas with zip codes categorized as “extended” or “remote”. The 82 zip codes impact almost 1% of the US population.

Squarespace has initiated the management of the domains it acquired from Google last June. Up until now, there hasn't been much of a change for those who already own domains through Google, but now the domains are starting to move over to Squarespace with controls migrating from Google Domains to Squarespace's own website.

Amazon Web Service expanded its free credits program for startups to cover the costs of using major AI models as it looks to boost the market share of its AI platform Bedrock. In a move to attract startup customers, Amazon now allows its cloud credits to cover the use of models from other providers including Anthropic, Meta, Mistral AI, and Cohere.

10. Seed rounds, IPOs, & acquisitions

Proxima, a New York-based marketing tech platform that enables marketers to manage and scale ad campaigns on social platforms, raised $12M in a Series A round led by Mucker Capital. The company will use the funds to build an AI assistant for its platform.

ikas, a Turkey-based e-commerce platform that allows small businesses and entrepreneurs to open online stores without tech knowledge, raised $20M in a Series A round led by World Bank's International Finance Corporation and Re-Pie Asset Management, setting a record as the IFC's largest single investment in a Turkish startup. The company, which reached $10M ARR in just 16 months, will use the funds to accelerate overseas growth.

WOGOM, an India-based B2B marketplace for consumer electronics, acquired Ckart Online, another India-based B2B competitor, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will allow WOZGOM to extend its footprint across India by tapping into more than 25 regions with a network of over 8,000 trade partners.  

SingleInterface, a startup that provides a suite of tech products to help multi-location brands across India, SEA, and the MIddle East manage the digital presence of their physical stores, raised $30M in a round led by Asia partners and PayPal Ventures. The company will use the funds to grow its geographical presence and enhance consumer experience across its products. 

Searchspring, a search and personalization platform for e-commerce merchants, acquired Intelligent Reach, a product data optimization platform that works with over 1,500 advertising channels, shopping sites, and marketplaces. The companies said that Searchspring specializes in onsite product discovery, while Intelligent Reach worked with external sales channels, and that the two companies together can provide merchants with a comprehensive omnichannel e-commerce experience. 

Nuvei, a provider of payment processing software for e-commerce companies and brick-and-mortar retailers, has agreed to be taken private by Advent International at a $6.3B valuation. The all-cash transaction values the company at $34 per share, which is a 56% premium over its last unaffected stock price.

Alphabet is in talks to make an offer to acquire HubSpot. According to a Reuters report, Alphabet has in recent days discussed how much it should offer and whether antitrust officials would approve the deal. Shares of Hubspot rose 5% after the news broke.

The Home Depot agreed to acquire SRS Distribution, a residential specialty trade distribution company with professional roofers, landscapers, and pool contractors, for $18.25B. The company has more than 760 locations across 47 states, 2,500 sales professionals, and 4,000 flatbed delivery vehicles, which complement Home Depot's own Pro ecosystem. Home Depot says that SRS will expand its total addressable market by $50B to about $1 trillion.

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Paul E. Drecksler
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PS: I read that Aladdin was banned from racing flying carpets. Apparently he was using performance enhancing rugs.