Weekly News Update // Week of June 22, 2020

Here's TRAUB's roundup of recent retail news. Saks Fifth Avenue reopens on Fifth Avenue with a new retail strategy, TikTok launches TikTok for business for marketers and takes on Snapchat with new AR Ads, remote workers around the world are renting hotel rooms from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to try and regain a sense of work-life balance, and more.


  • Poseida Therapeutics Raises $110M To Advance Gene Therapeutics Crunchbase 
  • Australian design app Canva raises $60M and doubles valuation to $6B  CNBC
  • Pipe Brings In $60M Seed Extension To Power SaaS Financing Platform Crunchbase
  • SevenRooms Boosts Restaurant, Hotel Guest Experience Platform With $50M Series B Crunchbase
  • Cyclica Raises $17M Series B To Decentralize Drug Discovery Crunchbase
  • Doorkee raises $5.7M seed to help landlords, tenants have better moving experience Crunchbase
  • Helping America Lose Weight: Calibrate Launches Digital Tool Backed By $5.1M Seed Crunchbase



Saks Fifth Avenue Reopens on Fifth Avenue With a Retail Strategy That Goes Far Beyond Hand Sanitizer

Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue is reopening to customers today in a changed New York and a changed world. On the outside, the store has replaced its boarded-up façade with windows featuring a “Welcome Back, New York” theme. Inside, you will be met by a concierge who will present you with a nonmedical mask if you’ve forgotten yours, a hand sanitizer station, and, says president Marc Metrick, “the best product assortment and the most welcoming staff in all of New York City and all of the U.S.” Other stores up and down the avenue might be struggling with phase two of New York City’s reopening plan—Valentino, for one, is trying to get out of its lease on the thoroughfare completely—but Saks is assuming a hopeful approach. Precautions are being taken at every turn inside the store, with ultraviolet lights sanitizing escalator railings, elevators reserved for seniors and differently abled guests, and surfaces being sanitized multiple times throughout the day. In addition, a number of virtual services, including video chat shopping, allow shoppers to get the Saks experience from the comfort of their couch. Vogue 


TikTok Launches TikTok For Business For Marketers, Takes on Snapchat With New AR Ads

TikTok is announcing to advertisers that it’s open for business. The company is today officially introducing a new brand and platform called “TikTok For Business” that will serve as the home for all its current and future marketing solutions for brands. At launch, the site will include access to TikTok ad formats, including its marque product, TopView, which is the ad that appears when you first launch the TikTok app. Other products under this TikTok For Business umbrella include Brand Takeovers, In-Feed Videos, Hashtag Challenges and Branded Effects. TechCrunch


Remote Workers Around the World Are Renting Hotel Rooms From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to Try and Regain a Sense of Work-Life Balance

“Many travelers – even traveling from next door – are finding these hotel rooms as workspaces) to be a great experience,” said Dr. Bjorn Hanson, who has taught at the New York University School of Professional Studies at the Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. The hotel room itself is conducive to someone who needs a day away from work. There’s typically quality customer service, high-speed internet access, a reading chair, a television, and even fitness centers if they’re open. “There’s a bed which is good for stretching out and laying out papers, and taking a break and watching the news. So, it does make for a great space for office day use,” said Hanson. Business Insider 


Carlyle Scores 7x Return on Sale of UK Software Provider

Carlyle Group has sold UK-based software testing company Eggplant to Keysight Technologies for $330m. The firm scored a seven times return on the exit, a person familiar with the matter told Private Equity News. Eggplant provides automated and AI-driven software testing tools for clients across different industries, including financial services, healthcare, retail, telecom, and media. Its products enable organisations to test, monitor, and report on the quality and responsiveness of software applications across different interfaces, platforms, browsers, and devices. Founded in 2008 and headquartered in London, the company was formerly known as Testplant and got acquired by Carlyle in 2016. Since then, Eggplant has tripled its revenues, the firm said, to $38m in 2019. PE News 


Meet Karat, Creating The Credit Card For Influencers And Creators

The idea for Karat stems from Wei’s experience as a product manager at Instagram Live. He used to work with hundreds of creators and influencers who were skilled at growing their followings, but didn’t have traditional business products that worked for them. Banks didn’t understand the creator economy and were using traditional metrics like FICO scores to evaluate influencers, and were giving them low credit limits, Wei said. “Influencers are actually businesses, and with the same business pain points as everybody else, but banks don’t understand them,” Wei said. What Karat does is ask for a creator or influencer’s social media handle, then assesses their financials using Plaid. With a social media handle, Karat can evaluate a creator’s reach, engagement, type of content and platform, and other metrics. It uses that combined with financial information to determine credit limits. The card is a starting point, but Karat eventually wants to offer a whole suite of financial tools and services for creators, such as bank accounts, help incorporating, help with taxes, etc. The fintech ecosystem has matured to the point where Karat’s able to do this, Wei explained. Crunchbase 


Apple Will Help You Find Lost Stuff Besides Its Gear and Your Friends

April of 2019, scuttlebutt emerged that Apple was working on a Bluetooth Low Energy gizmo you’d be able to attach to items you owned to help you find them if they went missing. Apparently to be known as an AirTag, this device sounded a lot like existing trackers such as Tile, Chipolo, or TrackR—and remains vaporware. Signs of its existence, however, have continued dribbling out. And last year, the company did merge its Find My iPhone and Find My Friends apps into Find My, a new unified tracking service that sure felt like it could be prep work for a future in which you’d use your Apple hardware to track down other things you’ve lost. At Monday’s WWDC keynote, Apple . . . didn’t talk about any of this. But that was only because the keynote was already bulging at the seams with material. So the company more quietly announced something called the Find My network accessory protocol—the first concrete development related to its broader item-tracking aspirations. Fast Company 



Ikea Debuts Platform For Testing Home Design Experiments

Ikea recently introduced a new platform from its Space10 research lab called EverydayExperiments.com, which will showcase various "experiments" using artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality and spatial intelligence technology. Through EverydayExperiments.com, the furniture retailer aims to highlight tech and design experiments and help viewers reimagine homes and spaces, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive. The company has enlisted multiple designers and studios to participate, including Philip Price Hennigsen, Strømlin, Set Snail, Alonso Holmes and Timi Oyedeji, per the company statement. Retail Dive 



  • Macy’s chief brand experience officer, Rachel Shechtman, exits BoF
  • Estée Lauder Companies appoints Andrew Ross  as the new executive VP and Daniel Mahle as the senior VP BoF
  • Signet appoints new chief digital officer, Rebecca Wooters BoF
  • Swatch Group announces CEO reshuffle BoF


  • To help communities survive a crisis, invest in hyper-local food, art, and culture Fast Company