[Salt Lake Trib] Utah-based online marketplace jane.com, meant to empower women’s business, goes dark

Utah-based online marketplace, meant to empower women’s business, goes dark

…and Sellers are upset at not being paid:

On their BBB profile:


That’s not paid in full.

Nope, it’s not. The rumors around the web are that they have been on the brink of bankruptcy and not paying their 3Ps for the past two months. Screenshots of emails faulted being “down a team member” for delayed and partial payments.

Businesses are advising customers to stop payments and/or start chargebacks because jane.com owes some Sellers well into the six figures each, and many Sellers in the multiple thousands, too.

So far, there’s no announcement and no explanation, though the fact that there’s now an investigation might not allow for any statements.

Shoppers were making purchases up until Friday, when the “down for maintenance” message first appeared, which many assumed was temporary as the site added BFCM deals.

They posted on Facebook & Instagram 6 days ago, AND limited commenting on all their posts. They knew something was up.

Example of said email:

I’m amazed that they lasted this long.

It seemed like a dubious business plan from the beginning. You go up against Amazon, eBy, Etsy, etc, while restricting your seller base to less than half of the available sellers. ( 40 to 42%, according to Google search )

This means that you have to at least double your efficiency someplace else to just break even. If you have a large customer base who is devoted to the idea of women-owned businesses, and who put their money up to support that idea, then it works.

But if your customers put something else first - like price, maybe, or selection - you are screwed.

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: :lock_with_ink_pen: The Junk Drawer

I neither shopped nor sold there, but they’ve been around 10+ years, and it seems that the sales were there. Shoppers were certainly shopping, considering what Sellers are reporting for their sold units, sales totals, and balances owed.

Again, these are rumors, but former employees, recent employees, and long time Sellers are reporting that the owners were married. In the last 1-2 years, they raised $40M allegedly for business growth but then went through a divorce earlier this year, where they just divided that sum between themselves.

After the divorce, they withdrew from day-to-day (stayed on the board, of course) and hired a CEO who was only there for a few months before leaving this past summer, then another, and now no one knows who was in charge. The new CEOs continued the questionable financial mismanagement of the founders, plus unsupported C-suite growth (also of course), plus bad decisions (e.g., full print hard copy holiday 2023 catalog?!), PLUS now without the $40M…so the last two months they were using customer payments to support infrastructure (instead of Seller and referral fees, and the venture capital) and not actually paying 3Ps, who were making pretty substantial legitimate sales.

There are reports that their newest hires weren’t even 3 weeks old.

So I think this is less a story of “bad idea” and more of “the greed gonna get’cha”. :grimacing:

The missing $40M is part of the fraud investigation.

Email received from a Jane seller today. There’s no way just randomly sending money to a cashapp account will end badly… :grimacing:

YIKES to that. I’ve seen a lot of Sellers on social media posting their own sites or Etsy links, but nothing about just sending them payments directly, jeeeepers. :grimacing::grimacing::grimacing:

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Meanwhile, a good reminder from an anonymous redditor

No ecommerce Seller should count on any one online platform for 80% of their business. :grimacing:

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$40 mil isn’t that much any more, especially when divided among two people. Gone are the times when one could abscond to south America and live like a king on 20 million dollars.

Yet the owners were leaving. So were the putative CEOs.

If they had seen a reason to stay, they would have. They could have paid themselves multi-million dollar salaries, plus bonuses - if the business would have supported it.

But it couldn’t. And apparently everyone at the board or C-suite level knew this. They were playing musical chairs up to the last minute, staying around for the last non-felonious grab of cash that they could manage.

The most valuable skill in such situations is to appear have the authority to direct the cash flow, but have the paper trail for responsibility for such decisions point to someone else.
When all of upper management is doing this, a curious vacuum of authority develops, as they all want someone else to appear to be in charge. This leads to the classic “Nobody knew who was in charge.”

This is actually a combination of greed and a bad idea - implemented sequentially.
The people in management are the first to realize that it is a bad idea, as they are first to see the financial reports. At the point, rational greed dictates that one should grab as much money as possible while making it look like somone else is responsible.

As the realization that it was a bad idea works its way down the management heirarchy, greed follows. The early adopters get twenty milion apiece on their way out. Lesser management finds a way to embezzle smaller amounts or maybe a laptop or two. When greed finally works its way to the bottom, rank-and-file employees are stealing staplers.

So it goes.

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I see what you’re saying, but I’m not sure I agree (yet) in this case. The money, the sales, the sellers, the customers, the longevity were all there. But it seems like a personal issue with/between the founders sent the train off the tracks. Their decision to leave day-to-day might not have even been voluntary (and perhaps even part of the divorce settlement) and not due to concerns with the business but between themselves–we just don’t know.

A lot of this is unconfirmed information plus speculation, but there’s simultaneously enough and not enough here for me personally to not be ready to conclude that the business itself was the problem and not simply the people at the top.

As always, two things can certainly be true at the same time, and most situations are indeed more complex than black and white, or A caused B.

I’m definitely interested to see what more comes out.

One issue I’m seeing here is sellers are basically unsecured creditors to the platform. And this goes for every marketplace. The funds aren’t being held in an escrow account for the sellers when the marketplace collects it. If Amazon went bankrupt sellers would be waiting for a year for it to play out in bankruptcy court to see how much, if anything, they’ll get paid on their owed balances.

It SHOULD be set up in a way where seller funds go into a segregated account, and unless there’s cause to revoke those funds (buyer complaints that the seller’s a fraud), the marketplace shouldn’t be able to use those funds for business purposes, and those funds should also be protected from other creditors.


:bell: D I N G has been dinged.


I know many couples whose marriage foundered because the money was not there. One should not assume the divorce was the source of the business failure, the opposite could also be plausible.


As noted above:

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The this Womens Wear Daily article suggest this is a failed business model, not thievery.

Jane Bankruptcy Shows Cracks in Mass – WWD!

Whoops - I think this is a different failed Jane.

Yep, different Jane from 2009

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The relevance to SAS of the jane.com abrupt shut down after 10+ years is in the reality check that at any moment, for any reason, any ecomm marketplace platform can shutter, without warning and/or without sufficient funds to pay 3P Sellers what they are owed for prior sales.

Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, eBay, Target…any of them could fold or boot 3P Sellers tomorrow. :woman_shrugging:

How have Sellers planned for an “unimaginable” crisis? Because it is a real possibility.