UPDATE: Revzilla was not acquired by Cycle Gear. Instead, it announced that it’s partnering with J.W. Childs (the private equity firm that owns Cycle Gear) to form a new holding company that will own both Cycle Gear and RevZilla. Read all about the deal here.
What started as the brainchild of three motorcycle-loving friends working out of an Old City apartment could become one of the biggest stories in Philadelphia startup history.
Citing a person familiar with the matter, Reuters is reporting that Revzilla is nearing a deal to be bought by California-based Cycle Gear, creating a company valued at the whopping sum of $400 million to $500 million. The source said the deal is expected to be announced in the coming days.
Revzilla sells motorcycle jackets, helmets, parts and accessories online. It was founded in 2007 by Anthony Bucci, Nick Auger and Matt Kull who quit their various tech jobs once they realized that shopping for motorcycle parts and accessories online had serious room for improvement. Now the company is based in the Philadelphia Navy Yard and had $75 million in sales as of July 2015. Much of its success can be attributed to its enormous YouTube presence, which has attracted more than 182,000 subscribers.
Cycle Gear (owned by private equity firm J.W. Childs) has more than 100 stores in 34 states. Clearly it’s intent on expanding its online presence.
Will Bucci, Auger and Kull stay on with Cycle Gear? Will they start a new company? Will they become angel investors? The potential deal brings up so many questions.
I sat down with Bucci for a long interview back in July, and the fast-talking CEO offered his thoughts on growth, working in Philly and bringing fresh eyes to a tired business. Here are a few highlights:
- On launching a business in Philly: “We wanted to build a business in Philly because we’re Philly guys. We believe there’s great talent in Philly and we think it gets overlooked, especially in the digital landscape, where you hear about Austin, New York, Silicon Valley and Boston all the time. Part of it is hoping you can one day hang your jersey in the rafters next to all the Philly businesses we’ve looked up to, like Urban Outfitters, Five Below, First Round Capital and Monetate. To have people talk about us as an amazing startup story from Philly is very humbling and makes us feel great.”
- On the company’s super-fun culture: “We all read the Zappos book when it came out in 2009. It says “treat your customers amazingly and treat your employees better than your customers.” When we started, we said it could be the Zappos of motorcycles, centered around the customer experience. Ultimately, when you’re in your eighth year, you’re not the this or that of anything. We’re RevZilla. But you can see where the Zappos book heavily influenced our management and cultural style.”
- On carving out a customer base: Low, slow and SEO. We’re tech guys. We understood search engine optimization, so everything we did was geared around organically optimizing to have long-tail results on Google. You also had Matt, Nick and I talking to every customer, taking every phone call, answering every email. Our whole approach is high-touch, premium products that are not price-driven. So we were talking to the super-enthusiasts — BMW riders, Ducati riders, Triumph riders and saying “What are you interested in?” They said “Wow, everybody ignores the high-end user and goes after brake pads and tires.”
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