In June 2020, Pierre Poignant was replaced by Chun Li as Group CEO of Lazada. The office report says that Poignant was moving to be a special assistant to Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang. 

At the time, several Southeast Asian media mentioned that Poignant was promoted. We said we would not comment on this. 

Of course, Poignant would not stay as a “special assistant” for long. With his personality and operational capabilities, he was widely admired by former employees of both Rocket and Lazada, and we are sure many investors and entrepreneurs came knocking on his door. 

Rumour is that he left the Alibaba ecosystem in Dec 2020. And a week ago, Poignant finally sent the following message after lying low on LinkedIn (i.e. no personal/professional updates) for many months. 

Max Bittner, the group CEO when Lazada was acquired by Alibaba and who was later replaced by Lucy Peng, sent his blessings to Poignant rather quickly:

Pierre’s new project is similar to Thrasio, which has become quite popular recently and raised more than $1billion. 

Thrasio’s business model is to acquire relatively established third-party sellers and brands on Amazon and then leverage an experienced team and a full set of management systems to improve the business. The model aims to obtain returns with low risk in a short period of time. 

This kind of business is a typical private equity buyout practice, and this strategy is called an “Amazon seller rollup”. 

Competition for rollup has heated up recently (we understand that there have been a number of startups that have got funding to do the same). The cash component of Thrasio’s purchase prices has gone up by 35-40% as a result. 

This price is not high for a company that is profitable and has good cash flow, but it also reflects the potential risks of these acquisitions.

As Amazon’s system is very logical – investors are able to quickly collect and analyze the rollup target’s sales volume, customer reviews, etc. This allows investors or companies like Thrasio to systematically approach the target and advance to close a deal.  

Poignant will move back to France, and the main market for new projects in the United States.

This is the business: https://joinbranded.com/

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.