Unilever’s Big Strategic Bet on the Dollar Shave Club
[Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club] is the fourth-most valuable M&A deal of a venture backed e-commerce company. And it’s a telling tale about whether the consumer products industry can get a digital business model right.
The deal is full of intriguing details. Unilever paid five times what Dollar Shave Club was expecting for revenues this year. Analysts had valued it for far less: in its most recent funding round — a $90.7 million Series D in November 2015 — Dollar Shave Club had been valued at $630 million, according to Pitchbook. While Dollar Shave Club represents a growing share of the razorblades market, it is still tiny, it operates with low margins, is made up of an irreverent albeit engineering-savvy team – and is, as yet, unprofitable.
So why did a traditional consumer products company do a deal that feels more like it belongs in the tech sector than the consumer product industry?