Yet more developments for Beepi, the used car marketplacethat had raised$150 million butthen went bust: The company has completely shut down and has been sold off in parts to repay creditors. The development comes after a deal to sell itself to Fair.com, a stealth startup from car industry vets,was cancelled; and then a second deal to sell itself to Bay Area-based used car dealer group DGDG fell through, TechCrunch has confirmed with people close to the company.
With no more cash for operations, Beepi instead went through an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors (ABC process), with advisory firm Sherwood Partners asthe Assignee, the firm confirmed to TechCrunch.The Wall Street Journalfirst reported the assignment of Sherwood Partners to sell off the assets yesterday.
The developmentwasnt a complete surprise. After we initially reported inDecember thatBeepi, out of money, would be sold to Fair.com, wedbeen trying to hunt down the latest on the situation,whenwe noticed that the sale announcement was marked as cancelled on Crunchbase in January (now mysteriouslyturned back again to pending); and we started to receive emails from people saying that the site had completely shut down and was not processing any sales, or refunds for sales.
However, the only reply we received to our questions to Beepi, Fair and investors came from Beepis Owen Savir, who co-founded the company with Alejandro Resnik. He emailedon January 19 that he and the company werejust setting up for the next steps.
(January 19 appears toalso be the last day that Beepis Twitter accounttweeted anything other than responses to customers contacting it with problems. The Beepisite, similar to Savirs wording in his email, also notes: Stay tuned for our next steps.)
And nowwe have found out more details.
According to our sources close to the company, the deal to sell Beepi to Fair.com was cancelled by the startup over disagreements on the conditions of the sale.
Then Beepi received a second offer from DGDG, a chain of car dealerships across the Bay Area. But asDGDG was going through its sales process, Beepi ran out of money and had to shut down, and DGDG walked away, too. There were also informal discussions with Carmax, one source tells us.
Fair.com and DGDGhad similar financial offers: investors would have received about 35 percent in the new company, and the buyer would have invested around $20 million into restructuring the business.
Good idea, bad execution
Beepi is a textbook case of a startup with a good idea a marketplace for people to sell and buy used cars, which would be vetted, processed and delivered to the new owner by Beepi, bypassing the costly overhead and commission structure of car dealerships. And there was some solidexecution strong customer service was a big selling point. But ultimately the company was run badly.
It had been valued as high as $560 million in previous rounds of funding, after raising money from 35 investors, including Yuri Milner, Comerica, Redpoint, Foundation Capital and Sherpa Capital.
But Beepi, asource tells us, was run with the wrong priorities. One ex-employee said Beepi was burning through around$7 million a month when it had its peak of 300 employees (before laying off 200 in December as part of its bid to sell to Fair.com).
A large part of burnwas going to grossly high salaries and overtime.But there were also many expenses that pointed to a company that was not economizing, spending money on things like a $10,000 sofa for the executives private conference room, and covering phone and car expensesfor the founderssignificant others.There was a definite abuse of funds, anex-employee said.
The co-founders, he added, were also very hands-on executives, but possibly to a fault, micro-managing decisions andalso very mercurial and hard to predict.
And this is before considering some of the administrative problems at the company: one ongoing issue was getting titles and plates senttonew car owners in a timely manner. More than once, people would get pulled over and ticketed for having expired temporary registrations.
Riding on the hype of transportation startups and marketplaces, Beepi may have raised too much, too soon. They were runningthe businessto raise money, and then to get someone else to take it on, was how one persondescribed it.
One investor in the startup saidthat the founders were too aggressive in pushing for higher valuations. Indeed, co-founder Resnik, the CEO, toldthe WSJ in 2015 that it was looking to raise a monster round of $300 million ata $2 billion valuation to fuel its national expansion.
Entrepreneurs shouldnot always be raising at too high a price because it sets you up for a failure, the investor said.
And failure, unfortunately, is exactly where it all ended.
When the market became tighter for late-stage growth rounds in the autumn period (the value was literally halved from $12 billion in 2015 to $6 billion in 2016), Beepi stalled. Employees were told there was a $90 million round of funding from a Chinese investor that fell through, butone of our sources saysthe term sheets were never there to begin with, and questions whether that round was ever really a possibilityat all.
Turning back to today, we may still see some form of Beepi emerge somewhere.
From what we understand, Fair.com came back into the picture after the initial sale to Fair.com, and DGDG, fell through, said a source. It was looking tobuy code, pricing algorithms, the brand and to hire about 23 Beepi employees.
Martin Pichinson, a co-president at Sherwood, would not provide any comment abouthow the sale has proceeded and who has acquired the assets.
In any case, asource told us that all of the assets have effectively been sold off to someone, including the companys brand. Its not clear if this will settle all of the startups debts: one source said that at theend of January, Beepi was stillcoming up about $6 million shorton what it owed to its creditors.