Dollar Shave Club is apparently worth more than a dollar. About a billion more. Netherlands-based consumer products company Unilever (NYSE: UL) announced on Tuesday it was buying the online subscription-based seller of men's care products. Though terms weren't disclosed, according to Fortune, the deal will be for $1 billion cash.
From its origins as a snarky, virally marketed startup, Dollar Shave Club has grown into a business selling an more than $200 million worth of product annually. It also sells more than just razors now, having branched out into other areas of the personal care market, like skincare and styling products.
If Fortune's estimate of the acquisition price is true, this will be the one of the largest transactions ever in e-commerce.
Founded by Michael Dubin in 2012, Dollar Shave Club quickly caught on in part because of its quirk and fun advertising that featured Dubin hawking his razors. According to Unilever, Dubin will stay on as DSC CEO, and the company will continue to operate independently.
A number of direct-to-consumer razor companies that have since ridden into the market on DSC's coattails, including Harry's, and Bevel, which is targeted toward black men. Even Procter & Gamble's (NYSE: PG) Gillette brand entered the niche, with its launch of the Gillette Shave Club last year. Even though Gillette generates sales of about $20 billion annually, the success of these upstarts caught its attention.
Subscription-based e-commerce was a hot trend for several years, but the model has cooled considerably in recent periods. Birchbox was an early leader for DTC personal care products, but earlier this year announced, it was suspending operations in Canada and cutting its staff by 15%.
According to the market researchers at CB Insights, funding for such services has plunged to a three-year low, and Forrester Research says that where hundreds of subscription-based e-tailers existed just a few years ago, most have fallen by the wayside.
Even Dollar Shave Club has found it more difficult to raise money, according to The New York Times, suggesting that this buyout will give the company a more stable source of funding and allow it to expand globally.
Unilever expects the transaction to close in the third quarter.
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Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned, but he is a Dollar Shave Club subscriber.