Gilt Confirms Buy of BuyWithMe But CEO Crowley’s Status Unclear

Jim Crowley

Jim Crowley

Today, Gilt Groupe made it official.

New York-based Gilt said it has acquired BuyWithMe. Financial terms of the deal, which closed yesterday, weren’t announced.

Boston-based BuyWithMe offers daily deals to a customer base of millions in 13 markets around the country, according to a statement. BuyWithMe is being integrated into Gilt City, which offers “local experiences,” a spokeswoman says.

BuyWithMe by Gilt—as the company now calls itself– will have a distinct set of offerings, says Nathan Richardson, Gilt City’s president. “We’ll do a cross populate of sales from one site and back again where we think it makes sense for the consumer,” he says.

Gilt acquired BuyWith Me because the company has “developed a very engaged customer base, strong merchant partnerships, and an exceptional staff with a deep industry knowledge,” Richardson says.

BuyWithMe competes against Groupon, the Big Kahuna of daily deals. Groupon is expected to go public later this week, with an offering that could raise as much as $540 million.  Living Social, the No. 2 daily deals site, is also expected to file.

Last month, BuyWithMe reportedly laid-off half of its staff. Richardson declined to comment on the reductions but said Gilt was not involved in any BuyWithMe layoffs, he says. Gilt acquired the assets of BuyWithMe, which includes the vendor and customer lists. Because of the deal is an asset purchase, Gilt isn’t obligated to find positions for unemployed BuyWithMe employees, he says.

Gilt currently has more than 50 positions available in its companies and is hosting a “career information session for anyone who is a former employee of BuyWithMe,” Richardson says.

“We’re doing our best to find homes for people looking for [positions] who are qualified at Gilt,” he adds.

One executive, who may be looking for a job, is BuyWithME CEO Jim Crowley. Gilt is in discussions with Crowley on how he can help with the business, says Richardson. “He’s not confirmed as an employee,” he says. “Gilt City will run [BuyWithMe] and we’ll run it as part of the business,” he says.

BuyWithMe was put up for sale several months ago, Richardson says. “They had multiple bidders but we were the ones that prevailed,” he says. “We don’t know who the other bidders are.”

Neither Gilt nor BuyWithMe used an outside investment banker, he says. Richardson led the deal team at Gilt which included Tom Sansone, Kathy Leo and Brian Dhatt.

BuyWithMe has raised about $30 million in VC funding, according to Beta Beat. This includes $5.5 million in funding from Matrix Partners in January 2010. BuyWithMe, the following July, scored another $16 million in a round led by Bain Capital Ventures.

The sale of BuyWithMe represents an exit for Bain Capital Ventures. However, Matrix is also an investor of Gilt so the VC doesn’t appear to be exiting BuyWithMe. But Matrix does view the sale as an “outcome,” Richardson says.

Officials for Bain and Matrix couldn’t be reached for comment.

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