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Zulily Rises From the Ashes with Acquisition by Beyond and Reality TV Star Marcus Lemonis

In a surprising turn of events, the once high-flying e-commerce brand Zulily is getting a second chance at life after being acquired by Beyond, the company formerly known as Leading the charge for Zulily's resurrection is none other than Marcus Lemonis, the serial entrepreneur and star of CNBC's reality show "The Profit."

Lemonis, who was recently named Executive Chairman of Beyond, teased the Zulily acquisition on social media this week with a cryptic photo of Barney the Dinosaur and the message "exciting news coming this week." The Zulily brand accounts followed suit, posting "The only purple that saves you money. Coming soon."

The acquisition caps a remarkable fall from grace for Zulily, the former e-commerce darling that went public in 2013 at a $4 billion valuation. Despite being acquired by QVC parent Qurate for $2.4 billion in 2015, Zulily struggled to maintain its competitive edge and ultimately fell into the hands of a private equity firm in 2022.

Under that ownership, Zulily's situation deteriorated rapidly, with over 800 employees across three states laid off and vendors reporting missed payments. In a last-ditch effort, Zulily filed an antirust lawsuit against Amazon before entering liquidation proceedings by the end of 2023.

Enter Marcus Lemonis and his new venture Beyond, who saw an opportunity to revive an iconic brand with an still-devoted customer base. Lemonis made a name for himself on "The Profit" by attempting to turn around struggling small businesses, putting his expertise in business operations and strategy to the test.

"Zulily has incredible brand equity, but clearly lost its way operationally in recent years," Lemonis stated. "We plan to apply our resources and unique capabilities in supply chain, technology, and customer experience to rebuild Zulily as the premier value shopping destination for moms and families."

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, analysts estimate the Zulily brand assets were acquired for under $10 million - a far cry from its billion-dollar heyday, but also an exceptional value if Lemonis can work his TV magic on the business.

Beyond's acquisition of Zulily fits its broader strategy of consolidating distressed e-commerce brands and retailers under a parent ecosystem aimed at achieving $3 billion in revenue by 2025. The company had previously acquired the assets of Bed Bath & Beyond out of bankruptcy.

With production values befitting his television personality, Lemonis has already begun teasing a summer 2024 relaunch for Zulily filled with "thrills, incredible deals, and a few surprises." Zulily alumni and bargain hunters alike are no doubt watching closely to see if one of e-commerce's original disruptors can regain its purple reign.

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