On Tuesday Pose, an app often described as the “Instagram of fashion,” announced that it is merging with e-commerce site Little Black Bag.
Pose and Little Black Bag will continue to run “as is” for the next few months, Little Black Bag CEO Dan Murillo, who will be CEO of the new, combined company, tells us. Early next year, the combined company will reveal its new name and release a new product, which sounds like it will be based on Pose’s existing interface with shopping built on top.
“[The new product] will continue to look and feel like the current Pose experience, with exciting elements added to it,” Alisa Gould-Simon, co-founder of Pose, says.
It’s a surprising combination to say the least. Pose is a mobile-based app that invites you to browse the outfits and shopping finds of other users, and upload your own. It’s like Instagram, only with pictures of clothes. Also like Instagram, it supports itself through advertising — ads appear at intervals between images, or “poses.”
Little Black Bag, on the other hand, is largely a desktop shopping site. It has a rather unusual model: You take a style quiz and are then asked to pick out one product from its catalog, which includes discounted handbags, beauty products and other accessories from brands like Betsey Johnson, Steve Madden and London Fog. After you have picked an item, your cart is filled with two other items chosen by LBB’s “stylists.” You can then offer to trade those items with other LBB users to get items you’d rather have on the site. When you’re satisfied with your cart, you can check out and all three products will be shipped to your door.
Pose claims to have 2 million registered users, not all of whom are active. Little Black Bag says it has 1 million, though not all (or perhaps even most) of those users have made a purchase.
So why are two such different companies merging? Murillo says when he met with Pose’s leaders to talk about the future of both companies, they realized they had a “very similar vision” for their future. Both startups are based in L.A. and have long known each other. They even share a backer in venture capital firm Upfront Ventures.
On occasion, venture capital firms will encourage two of their underperforming businesses to merge, but Murillo insists that isn’t the case here. Rather, LBB and Pose came up with the idea and then shared it with their investors, he says. He adds that he was very interested in the traction Pose has built on mobile devices, particularly since LBB has seen a surge in mobile usage over the past year.
Pose has long wanted to get into the e-commerce business, and LBB — which already has in place all of the logistical operations an e-commerce business requires — may be the fastest way to get there. What’s less clear is how LBB’s current selling model fits into the mix. Perhaps the new company will do away with it altogether, and utilize Pose’s interface to sell the goods it has stocked. I guess we’ll have to stay tuned.