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." 

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