Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Gilt Groupe's Susan Lyne Talks About Fashion, Local and (Not) IPO!

Yesterday, BoomTown dropped into the lower Park Avenue offices of the New York-based Gilt Groupe, the online fashion retail site.

Since 2007, the site has raised $83 million from General Atlantic and Matrix Partners, giving it a $400 million valuation and spurring interest from investment bankers who think Gilt might be a good candidate for an initial public offering.

That’s doubtful for now, given how important it is for Gilt to solidify and expand its business, even as competition increases.

But already, Gilt has built an important consumer brand online, using its funding to expand the member-based service that offers a range of well-known fashion brands and luxury goods at sample sale prices, much like the originator of the idea–France’s Vente-Privee.

To keep all the fashion moving forward, Gilt hired former Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) CEO Susan Lyne, who also was a big-time television exec at ABC, in 2008.

Along with a turbocharge of its operations as its sales grow, Gilt is also attempting to expand its offerings to travel and other experiences, via its Jetsetter site, and growing its base of local “city” sites for a range of services, such as spas.

Also on deck: More personalization for users, to better targets deals, as well as mobile versions of Gilt.

Of course, Gilt is operating in a very competitive arena, with rivals coming at the business from a number of different ways, such as Groupon, the hot discount deals start-up.

Here is the video interview I had with Lyne at Gilt’s Manhattan offices about all this and more:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus