Deals and IPOs

Unilever buys Dollar Shave Club, co-founder Michael Dubin to remain CEO

Unilever buying Dollar Shave Club
Unilever buying Dollar Shave Club

Unilever is buying Dollar Shave Club, the male grooming brand that co-founder Michael Dubin started from his apartment in 2012.

The consumer products giant said Dollar Shave Club, which has expanded from selling razors online for $1 apiece to offering products including bathroom wipes called "One Wipe Charlies," would bring "a unique male grooming perspective" to its personal care category.

Dollar Shave Club had sales of $152 million in 2015 and was on track for more than $200 million in 2016, according to Unilever's statement, which did not put a value on the transaction.

Fortune, however, cited multiple sources as saying that the deal was worth $1 billion in cash, adding that Dollar Shave Club had raised more than $160 million in venture capital funding so far, putting its value at $539 million.

A Unilever spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement.

Dollar Shave Club's top investor on $1B deal
Dollar Shave Club's top investor on $1B deal

Dollar Shave Club shot to online fame in 2012 with a viral video that featured Dubin, a giant teddy bear and the tag line "Our blades are ******* great." Dubin later told CNBC that the video cost just $4,500 to make but was so successful that the company ran out of inventory without hours of it appearing on YouTube.

A second video, titled "Let's talk about #2" was released to promote the launch of "One Wipe Charlies," which are effectively baby wipes designed for men.

Dubin, who started the company with a friend's father, Mark Levine, will remain as CEO of Dollar Shave Club when it joins Unilever. He said in a statement that the company couldn't be happier with the deal.

"We have long admired Unilever's purpose-driven business leadership and its category expertise is unmatched," he said. "We are excited to be part of the family."

One of Dollar Shave Club's largest investors, venture capitalist and Venrock partner David Pakman, told CNBC that Unilever is good at buying companies because it generally leaves them alone.

"One of the things Unilever says is 'congratulations Dollar Shave Club, you just acquired Unilever. You now have the resources of Unilever to propel you but we're not going to tell you what to do,'" he said in an interview with "Power Lunch" Wednesday.

Pakman, who said his firm made a tenfold return on its investment with the acquisition, said Dollar Shave Club has been so successful because it knows how to appeal to consumers.

"This is a company that created new media products, new media advertising that reached consumers in a very conversational way — built a huge amount of mindshare for a very low amount of money."

Dollar Shave Club was one of CNBC's Disruptor 50 in 2015.


This story has been updated to reflect that the value of Dollar Shave Club was reportedly $539 million.

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