Forget Big Data. 2012 Was the Year of Big Furniture

What a difference a year makes.

That, journalism instructors drilled into my brain, is the absolute worst cliché with which to begin a news article.

But for this particular topic – e-commerce and venture capital – it is also a succinct way to sum up what’s been a pretty obvious shift in strategy.

Basically, here’s what happened. In 2010 and 2011, VCs poured money into online coupon and group buying sites such as Groupon and Living Social. They also backed big rounds for other online retailers, but not as big.

Now, things have reversed. In the wake of Groupon’s IPO implosion, funding for group buying sites dried up. Specialized e-commerce retailers, meanwhile, continued to draw big rounds, with companies such as design-focused site, kid-focused retailer Zulily and curated online accessory shop JustFabulous raising a combined $275 million in 2012. Online furniture sellers were particularly popular this past year, with four of them – Fab (which also sells clothes), (which specializes in antiques), One Kings Lane and Wayfair – among the 10 most heavily funded ecommerce-related companies.

In the following slideshow, we look at the five largest rounds of the year for U.S.-based online retailers.


[slide title=”#5”]
Location: New York
Business: Online marketplace for antiques, vintage jewelry and art
Funding: Raised $42 million in December, bringing total funding to more than $100 million. Investors include Benchmark Capital, Index Ventures and Spark Capital.

[slide title=”#4 One Kings Lane”]
Location: San Francisco
Business: Online retailer of home décor products
Funding: Raised$50 million in December, bringing total funding to more than $110 million. Investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Tiger Global Management, Institutional Venture Partners, Greylock Partners and First Round Capital.

[slide title=”#3  JustFabulous”]
Location: El Segundo, Calif.
Business: Sells shoes and handbags curated by personal stylists based on customer preferences
Funding: Raised $76 million in July, bringing total funding to more than $109 million. Investors include Matrix Partners, Rho Capital Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures.

[slide title=”#2   Zulily”]
Location: Seattle
Business: Operates an online private sale site featuring products for infants and children.
Funding: Raised $85 million in November, bringing total funding to more than $120 million. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, August Capital, Maveron and Meritech Capital Partners.

[slide title=”#1.”]
Location: New York
Business: Design-focused online retailer
Funding: Raised $115 million in 2012 from Andreessen Horowitz, Atomico Venures, Baroda Ventures, DoCoMo Capital, First Round Capital, Mayfield and Menlo Ventures.


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