Sorry!! The article you are trying to read is not available now.

From a Gay Facebook to Online Design Shop, Makes Wildly Successful E-Commerce Pivot

Print comment Post Comments
Did you know that YouTube started as a video dating website? (Its first incarnation was called Tune In Hook Up.) Or that the programmers behind Twitter were originally focused on podcasting software? 

Add another name to the list of e-commerce companies who've pulled off successful pivots:

The brand new and wildly successful design and home goods site was once a totally different animal, a site called Fabulis. Launched in April 2010, Fabulis was a “mashup of Facebook, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Eventful and Foursquare services for the gay community,” according to co-founder and CEO Jason Goldberg.

But’s directors couldn’t envision the site exceeding $10 million in revenue, and soon hit a wall. As Goldberg explains on his Betashop blog, “We didn’t want to spend $1 more, let alone… millions more pursuing an idea that we were no longer convinced could succeed, especially when we saw a much bigger and better opportunity in front of us.”

So, it was time for a makeover.

One month ago, Fabulis relaunched as And just 30 days after revamping itself as a source of online deals for retail designer goods, the site has already turned a profit. It's made $1.3 million in revenue, Goldberg recently reported. It's also attracted investors such as Aston Kutcher, David Lee, and SoftTech VC. The improved startup is a glamorous prospect for further investment -- a “larger round” of fundraising in the “double-digits of millions range” is said to be in the works.

With membership up 60% to around 300,000 people, more than 3.3% of members have made purchases through the site, including more than 1,000 per day since July 1. And, according to Goldberg, the “conversion rate of website visitors to purchasers keeps getting better and better, even as we layer on more members and more traffic”.

Other members-only sales sites have been generating interest for a while as the appeal of flash sales has become more apparent to investors. Europe-exclusive received a 37 million euro investment from Accel Partners in September 2010. Gilt Groupe, which offers discounts on luxury items, recently “raised $138 million from new and current investors” according to a press release, and was valued at around $1 billion.'s specific and very picky approach to high design is what sets it apart from other flash sale sites, according to some trade literature. Editor At Large wrote that “What distinguishes from competitors like GiltHome, One Kings Lane and Joss & Main, is the edgy and up-and-coming nature of the designers and product it sells.” Home By Sunset noted, “It has what the other sale sites don’t: focus. It’s an expertly curated collection ... where I like almost everything because it’s of a common aesthetic.”

Indeed, Goldberg says his product range "is bounded only by good design, not by category." Nor price, it seems. Here's a sampling of products from today and yesterday:

Colored toilet paper: $12.50

A Euro-style bicycle: $595

A Milton Glaser poster: $210

A literary T-shirt: $18.

A chest of drawers: $1,900

And the cost of stealing someone's "fab" eye? Free.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.