Curalate, one of Center City's most prominent early tech darlings, has been acquired - Technical.ly Philly

Growth

Jul. 9, 2020 11:51 am

Curalate, one of Center City’s most prominent early tech darlings, has been acquired

Cofounders Apu Gupta and Nick Shiftan will be joining the Austin-based product reviews company Bazaarvoice. The company has played an important role in showing how a tech economy might fit into Philadelphia's business ecosystem.
Curalate CEO Apu Gupta announces its DNC partnership in 2016.

Curalate CEO Apu Gupta announces its DNC partnership in 2016.

(Photo by Roberto Torres)

Update: Details from a Bazaarvoice spokesperson about whether Curalate's employees would be retained or asked to relocate have been added. (7/9/2020, 3:25 p.m.)

Curalate, one of Center City’s most prominent early tech company darlings, has been acquired by Austin-based Bazaarvoice, Inc., the companies announced Wednesday.

Cofounder and CEO Apu Gupta casually shared the news on Twitter last night:

Though the company, which has a current focus on providing shoppable social, user-generated content and influencer marketing tools to brands such as Best Buy and Lululemon, has retreated some from local prominence in recent years, Curalate has played an important role in showing how a tech economy might fit into Philadelphia’s business ecosystem.

Curalate founders Gupta and Nick Shiftan first entered the scene with Storably, a startup connecting people with additional storage and parking spacing with those in need of a place to put their stuff. Backed by investors, they failed to gain traction, so they pivoted drastically, becoming Curalate. Company leaders set up shop in Philadelphia (2401 Walnut St.), New York, and eventually London — and last time we checked in with Gupta in 2018, the company had about 110 employees (after laying off about a dozen) split between offices.

The company was among the fastest-growing and flashiest early web companies to build a team in Center City, and former team members have gone on to hold prominent roles within the city, like Comcast’s Luke Butler or Brendan Lowry, an early employee of what was then Storably, who went on to his own independent creative agency using his Peopledelphia brand.

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The startup quickly raised multiple rounds of fundraising. In 2016, it raised a $27.5 million Series C round led by NEA, and has raised $40 million total from institutional investors such as First Round Capital and MentorTech Ventures. It also grew multiple offices over the years, but never quite reached the unicorn status that CEO Gupta and investors once viewed.

First Round Capital Managing Partner Josh Kopelman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The acquisition includes cofounders Gupta and Shiftan joining the Bazaarvoice team, and “will offer brands the ability to leverage inspirational social content to drive sales on social channels, on websites, and throughout the Bazaarvoice network,” the product reviews company said in a statement.

Financial details were not released. Bazaarvoice spokesperson Eleanor Simpson told Technical.ly on Thursday afternoon that Curalate’s 100 or so employees would be retained, and are not being asked to relocate. The Austin company has over 800 full-time employees — now 900, with the acquisition — across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, and is actively hiring, Simpson said.

Technical.ly has reached out to Gupta for an interview and will update this story when we hear back.

“From the outset, Curalate has believed that social media and visual content would shape how consumers shop. This vision has been validated by the 1,000+ brands we work with and the hundreds of millions of people who engage with Curalate experiences,” Gupta said in a statement. “Now, by joining Bazaarvoice, we have the opportunity to accelerate what we started while bringing an extraordinary value proposition to brands and retailers globally.”

Data released by the U.S. Small Business Administration on Monday indicates that Curalate was approved for a Paycheck Protection Program loan worth between $2 million and $5 million in April, supporting 97 roles.

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