Former ModCloth CEO exits Walmart
- Matt Kaness, the CEO of ModCloth at the time of the site's sale to Walmart a year ago, has left Walmart, the retail giant confirmed on Friday. "Matt transitioned out of his CEO role last fall and recently decided it was time to pursue other opportunities," a Walmart spokesperson told Retail Dive in an email. "We thank Matt for his contributions to ModCloth and wish him all the best in the future."
- Antonio Nieves has served as CEO of the online women's apparel vertical since October, according to his LinkedIn page.
- Nieves served as chief financial officer at ModCloth from 2014 to 2016 and later worked at Bonobos, which was acquired by Walmart $310 million in June.
Bonobos founder and CEO Andy Dunn, now Walmart's senior vice president of digital consumer brands, has been working to integrate the suite of post-Jet e-commerce acquisitions into the Walmart fold. It hasn't been entirely smooth, with reports of cultural rifts between old school veterans and startup-minded newcomers, not to mention some grumbling from the brands' loyalists.
Since the 2016 Jet buy, many have wondered how long Jet founder Marc Lore himself would remain in charge of Walmart's e-commerce revamp, but last week he set the record straight. "I absolutely will," Lore said when asked at Shoptalk if he'd be at Walmart a year from now. "It's still early days, it's only been 18 months now since the acquisition."
Perhaps, though 18 months is a long time for some whiz kids to stick around at a company as massive and staid as Walmart, so Kaness leaving at a year or less is no surprise, according to Eddie Yoon, founder of Eddie Would Grow, a think tank and growth strategy advisory firm. "The acqui-hire strategy can work if the parent company is also a compelling place that people want to stay long term, like Amazon," he told Retail Dive in an interview. "These types of entrepreneurs are motivated by leaving a legacy or building something that's going to change the world. It's just really hard for them to be part of a broader brand where the brand is famous, you're not going to be famous. I'm more impressed than not that people last as long as they do."
Nieves' previous experience with ModCloth's team was especially fortuitous, Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations at Walmart.com, told Retail Dive in an interview.
Nieves' role at Bonobos underscores the importance of Dunn's Bonobos team for Walmart, says Laura Kennedy, VP of Retail at Kantar Consulting. "It was clear that [Lore] saw more leadership potential coming from that acquisition," she said in an email to Retail Dive. "ModCloth didn’t come into Walmart with nearly as much wind at its back as Bonobos did."
ModCloth is apparently poised to continue, like Bonobos, to serve as "a pillar of a more distinctive apparel and online brand strategy" at Walmart, she also said, although those operations, even including Jet, represent a fraction of Walmart's sales. In addition to growing and diversifying its customer base and updating its apparel assortment, Walmart will continue to gain expertise from the talent there, she noted.
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