Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Facebook, Zynga, Groupon ... and Philly's Kynetic

GSI founder Michael Rubin sold to eBay for $2.4 billion. He's back, with Kynetic LLC

Facebook, Zynga, Groupon ... and Philly's Kynetic

Five months after agreeing to sell his previous investor-owned company, online-order filler Amazon.com competitor GSI Commerce of King of Prussia, to eBay for $2.4 billion, Michael Rubin today rolled out Kynetic LLC. With nearly $1 billion in yearly sales and more than 1,000 employees from Boston to Jacksonville, Rubin ranks eBay-backed Kynetic somewhere below Facebook, and around Groupon or Zynga, among the big non-public digital-media companies.

More in my Sunday Inquirer column here. Kynetic includes:

- Fanatics, a Jacksonville, Fla., office and warehouse that sell college sports paraphernalia under licensing agreements with 75 colleges, plus Rubin's King of Prussia-based NFL Shop, NBA Store, and NHL, NASCAR, and Major League Baseball e-commerce lines. Fanatics employs 200 in Florida, 100 in King of Prussia, plus hundreds of supporting workers at eBay.

"It's a $600 million-a-year sports- merchandise business," Rubin said. "That's more sports gear than Target sells. Or Wal-Mart."

- ShopRunner, a 2010 start-up shopping service (eBay is a minority owner), with a staff of more than 30. Members pay $80 a year and get standardized ordering and free two-day shipping. "We've got 49 sites live and dozens in the pipeline," and "hundreds of thousands of customers," said Fiona Dias, chief strategy officer. "Our biggest are Toys R Us and Newegg electronics. We do Walgreen's consumer drugs. For Domino's, we do pizzas."

- Ru La La, a Boston members-only shopping-deal website bought by Rubin in 2008 that claimed $200 million in revenue last year. It employs more than 400 in a Boston office and a Kentucky warehouse.

Rubin likes being private: "When you run a big public company, you spend 20 to 30 percent of your time on HR, legal, security, Wall Street analysts." He prefers wearing jeans, and "reporting to myself." 

Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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