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Russian billionaire Blavatnik invests in Rocket's Glossybox: Are the Samwers US bound? Written by Marguerite Imbert on 8. March 2012

Today the US-based industrial group Access Industries announced it has invested in a third Rocket company, this time the subscription-based cosmetic platform Glossybox. The support of Access’s Russian billionaire Leonard Blavatnik offers the Samwer empire some considerable clout.
He’ll now have 7% in the subscription-based company, with the majority of GlossyBox shares (57.5%) owned by Rocket Internet, 24% by Swedish-investor Kinnevik, and a minor 5% share by Holtzbrinck Ventures.
Founded in 1986, the privately held US company has long-term holdings worldwide, including the record company Warner Music Group which Blavatnik bought for a muscling 3.3 billion dollars last year. Recent investments in German clones include the clone Pinspire, as well as the shopping club Westwing.

Assessing the GlossyBox model

GlossyBox’s sales-driven model follows directly in the footsteps of the US-based company BirchBox, a monthly subscription service that delivers beauty product samples to users on a monthly basis. Both sites offer relevant editorial content in addition to the e-commerce site, utilizing a subscription model of €10 per month whereby customers (mostly women) receive beauty samples each month to their doorstep with the ability to buy thereafter.
With nearly $12 million in funding (the majority of which came in 2011 in a hefty seed round led by Accel Partners), Birchbox offered substantial inspiration to the two European clones aspiring to meet its footing.
The German clone is led by CEO Charles von Abercron, who before joining Rocket headed international online marketing for CityDeal, acquired by Groupon last year. Given how much the company’s success will depend on its marketing strategies, von Abercron offers the Samwer property high market potential.

Expansion into the US market ahead?

But the Samwers were not the only one to clone the BirchBox model. At the peak of the competition (including other clones like Box of Beauty, and is the French-based company JolieBox, which acquired the Spanish service Glamourum in late February 2012, a few months after the company’s Series A with Alven Capital, and the acquisition of its UK competitor Boudoir Privé.
Like its German competitor, JolieBox (run by CEO Quentin Vacher), has its eyes fiercely set not only on Europe but also on the US. “The geographical expansion of JolieBox is at the heart of our strategy,” JolieBox CEO Quentin Vacher said in late February, “we concentrate on large European countries and are planning to deploy in the short term our ‘Made in France’ beauty box offering in the American continent.”

Who will get there first? Joliebox or GlossyBox?

Founded in 2011, Joliebox has experienced over 50% compound monthly growth. It has managed to draw in customers in the tens of thousands, with ties to top brands in the Iberian market as well as established relationships with over 100 beauty brands, including Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent, L’Oreal, Laura Mercier, Caudalie, Payot, L’Occitane, Bourjois, Kiehl’s, and others.
“I expect that Rocket got word of JolieBox expanding into the US and got interested,” said one VentureVillage insider. “The investment may mean they’re heading in that direction.”
For either US or European domination, the success will depend on who can amass a larger sales force, more capital, and a faster-growing network in the regions of growth.
Nothing better than a race.
We’ll be watching!