Tim Armstrong Launches Marketing Play for DTCs; Brooklinen Latest DTC to Diversify Product Offering

Tim Armstrong launches DTC marketing play

DTC’s Daily Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands. In today’s edition: Tim Armstrong launches marketing play for DTCs; Brooklinen latest DTC to diversify product offering; Go-Jek raises further funds from Mitsubishi. 

Tim Armstrong launches marketing play for DTCs

Former AOL chief Tim Armstrong is joining the chase for direct-to-consumer brands’ marketing budgets with a new venture called Unbox that will help DTC companies hawk their products.

Unbox will offer technology, marketing capabilities and events that clients will be able to use to find, track and communicate with customers. Unbox is part of Dtx, a company recently formed by Armstrong to invest in DTC startups.

Unlike the social-media platforms where most DTC brands find their first customers, Unbox will give marketers access to the consumer data it collects. The information might include email addresses from consumers who consent to data sharing when they download the Unbox app, or details of how a user interacted with the brand at an event or after seeing an ad.

“Unbox is really the evolution of our direct-to-consumer strategy,” Armstrong said. “Brands want lower customer-acquisition cost. They want ownership of data.”

“One thing we’ve seen with direct-to-consumer, which we think is going to be very big as a future part of the internet, is the ability to move from the platforms to ecosystems where there’s a lot more direct connectivity [with consumers].”

Brooklinen latest DTC to diversify product offering

Brooklinen, the direct-to-consumer bed sheet brand backed by investors including FirstMark, is entering the apparel space with its first line of loungewear. The company says its designs, including tops, pants, shorts and a dress, are inspired by vintage athletic clothing and made from cotton and modal blended with spandex. Prices range from USD$28 (£22) for a t-shirt to USD$75 (£60) for jogger pants.

The news continues an interesting trend of DTC businesses diversifying their product offering, with recent announcements including Quip’s insurance product. DTC’s ability to do this undoubtedly stems from the data and intelligence they hold on their customers, giving them insight into the sorts of products they would be interested in, outside the business’ core offerings. 

The startup, whose investors also include NYU Innovation Venture Fund and Dorm Room Fund, has built its reputation around high-quality but affordable linens and is able to offer lower prices by controlling the design, manufacturing and logistics and fulfillment of its sheets, comforters, pillows and towels. It is primarily an e-commerce startup, but has also run pop-up shops. Brooklinen’s last round of funding was a USD$10m (£8m) Series A announced in 2017.

Go-Jek raises further funds from Mitsubishi

Indonesian ride-hailing firm Go-Jek has added capital atop its ongoing Series F from a trio of Mitsubishi corporations. This new investment was announced days after its competitor, Grab, raised money for its on-going Series H from credit-rating company Experian.

Osamu Masuko, chairman of Mitsubishi Motors, said that he “believe[s] that the accumulation of know-how of new mobility services that are rapidly spreading in the region and the opportunity to enter the market will contribute to the growth of the Southeast Asian market in the future.” Other investors in Go-Jek include Google, Meituan Dianping, Tencent, and JD.com.

Before this reported round of investment, Go-Jek last raised a USD$100m (£80m) Series F in March. Its total funding to date is USD$3.1bn (£2.5bn). This may seem vast, but for comparison, Grab raised about half of Go-Jek’s total funding in a single USD$1.46bn (£1.16bn) round led by Softbank Investment Advisers.