Another big buyer has just hit the market — and the name says it all.
Omnichannel Acquisition Corp. went public on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, raising $200 million that chairman and chief executive officer Matt Higgins can now use to buy a consumer company that needs some help connecting click and bricks.
The company, which counts beauty mainstay Bobbi Brown among its board members, is big game hunting, looking to cut a deal with a company that has an enterprise value of $1 billion to $2.5 billion and operates in the direct-to-consumer, retail, consumer health care, consumer marketplaces, consumer services and related sectors in North America.
While the retail industry has been buzzing about an omnichannel future for a decade, Higgins said the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the transformation with five years of e-commerce adoption being compressed into five months.
“Pre-COVID-19, there was maybe more lip service paid to omnichannel,” Higgins told WWD. “We were still in a world where channel drove the experience. That’s been completely updated in the last few months. A tipping point has clearly been reached.”
Higgins is both omnichannel practitioner and teacher, with a side gig as an executive fellow at the Harvard Business School, where he co-teaches a course on emerging consumer trends.
In addition to his role at Omnichannel Acquisition, he is also ceo of incubator and investment firm RSE Ventures, which worked with Jesse Derris to launch the brand strategy firm that represented Warby Parker, Harry’s, Reformation, Everlane and others. Previously, Higgins served as chief operating officer of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which refurbished the World Trade Center site, and worked in the National Football League, with both the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins.
Higgins is looking for a deal where he can make use of the the operational talent at Omnichannel Acquisition. In addition to Brown, the company counts among its board members and advisors: Katie Hunt, cofounder of pop-up concept Showfields; Denise Lambertson, founder of entertainment and influencer marketing agency LMS; Albert Carey, former ceo of PepsiCo North America, and Priya Dogra, president of WarnerMedia for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia (excluding China).
“My dream, which manifested itself this morning, was to put together a team of omnichannel consumer advisers who don’t just study it theoretically, but practice it everyday in their day jobs,” the ceo said. “When you’re an operator and you do this as part of your day job, you don’t treat it like a transaction, but you treat it like a company that requires constant attention.”
Higgins’ vision for the future is one of integration.
“Retail is not dead in any stretch of the imagination, I think it’s being reimagined,” he said, adding that consumers don’t parse out their experience by online or off-line, but are more interested in the connection they have with the brand and getting their goods. “Retail gets reimagined as really a showroom to experience everything your brand is about.”
Blank check companies are essentially management teams that have raised money in IPO’s with the promise that they’ll make some kind of a deal or return the money — in Omnichannel’s case, in two years.
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