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NOT WORKING OUT: That was quick. Nordstrom Inc. took a minority stake in Wantful a few months ago, and now the online gifting retailer has gone belly up. In a blog post, John Poisson, founder and chief executive officer of Wantful, which ceased operations earlier this month, wrote, “The coming holiday season was shaping up to be pivotal for us, but the loss last week of a planned follow-on investment leaves us little time to secure an alternate source of capital, or to pursue the other opportunities on the table. Our top priority right now is exploring all our options in an orderly fashion—and in taking care of our customers and the team.”
Wantful’s ability to help customers select the right gifts for their friends and family members appealed to Nordstrom, and the potential for Nordstrom to expose Wantful to a wider audience appealed to the two-year-old online venture. “We were excited to partner with Wantful because of their capability and what we wanted to learn. We are disappointed it didn’t work out, but we lived up to our obligations with our investment,” said a spokesman for Nordstrom.
At the time of Nordstrom’s investment, Wantful offered more than more than 4,500 products in the personal care, accessory, jewelry, specialty food and wine, home decor, kitchen and outdoor categories. It had a network of some 600 vendors. In June, Nordstrom and Wantful launched the Nordstrom Gift Collection by Wantful on nordstrom.com/giftcollection, a site that is no longer functioning. Nordstrom wasn’t Wantful’s only investor. It had raised $5.5 million in Series A funding, and Polaris Venture Partners, Harrison Metal, Greylock Partners and Forerunner Ventures were among those that had put in money.
Nordstrom has been an active investor in digital startups, and it has an enviable track record of doing so. The retailer’s investments in Bonobos, Sole Society and HauteLook have proven more successful than Wantful.