What Flash Sales? Now Fab Wants to Be the Ikea of Design

"We said right then and there we want to build something really massive."

Pre-announcement jitters.
Pre-announcement jitters.

Fab famously got traction once the cofounders pivoted from gay Yelp to design-focused flash-sales site. But now that flash sales are no longer the darling of the tech industry, Fab is moving on. Hence the company’s announcement at its kindergarten-like West Village HQ last night: “We’re going to do a little pivot again,” CEO Jason Goldberg announced.

“We’re redesigning Fab as the world’s number-one design store,” he said. “We’re going from flash sales to design store, and we’re going there in a really big way.”

That means a revamped website, products sold exclusively on Fab, brick-and-mortar stores, and the acquisition of a German company offering customizable furniture. 

“The vision that we had back in early 2011 was, we said we can be the global brand synonymous with design for years and years to come,” Mr. Goldberg explained. “We said right then and there we want to build something really massive.”

“We said we can create the Ikea/Amazon of design,” he added. Don’t be shy, fellas.

To that end, Mr. Goldberg had several announcements:

First off, the company has wholly redesigned its website and mobile apps. Search is better, and thanks to the addition of departments and other ways to sort products, it’s now much easier to go looking for a particular item. (No more paging through the entire furniture category on a fruitless quest for a green rug.) They’ve added designer pages (opening up the possibility of marketplace-style selling) and an outlet, as well.

Not that this is an entirely new development. Two thirds of the company’s daily revenue already comes from search and browsing.

Second: The launch of “Exclusively Fab,” a line of products unique to the site. That might be products designed in-house, capsule collections from particular designers or lines of products where Fab has taken on the upfront costs of manufacturing.

Third: Fab has purchased the German company MassivKonzept, which makes customizable furniture. Fab will be launching the offering in the U.S. as Designed By You. So if you’ve got a weird corner in your house that needs an odd length of table, hold tight.

Fourth: Fab is opening actual brick-and-mortar stores, starting by converting a MassivKonzept showroom in Hamburg. (So Monocle!) “We’re going to test a number of different physical retail environments,” Mr. Goldberg said.

“There will be more than one Fab store this year, and there will be multiple formats,” he said. “We’re going to learn how to do this by trying it a number of different ways.”

Also, Fab is launching in France.

What Mr. Goldberg didn’t announce was a new round of funding. All he’d offer is a tease: “When the time does come for us to raise money–and we will raise money in the next few months, to build out our global footprint–we’ll be looking for investors to help us take Fab and spread this brand everywhere we want to take it.”

We assume that means: Get ready to write a really, really big check if you want in. What Flash Sales? Now Fab Wants to Be the Ikea of Design