Management buyout as Rubybox leaves Media24

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South African online beauty subscription service Rubybox has been the subject of a management buyout that sees the startup return to independence two years after receiving investment from Media24.

Media24 division 24.com announced today (Tuesday) the management-led buyout of Rubybox was led by chief executive Sylvia Gruber and became effective on January 31 this year.

Gruber founded the platform along with Margaux Knuppe in September 2011, before Media24 invested in the startup in 2013 to test whether its audience was receptive to the subscription-based e-commerce business. 24.com said the investment saw Rubybox double its revenue.

“Our partnership with Rubybox has been valuable and we have a strong belief in the management team and their ability to develop the platform from here,” said Geoff Cohen, head of 24.com.

Gruber said she was grateful for the “fantastic marketing support” provided by Media24.

“While we are sad to lose the support, we are excited to further grow Rubybox in the online beauty market, to bring valuable digital solutions, coupled with trial boxes, to beauty brand houses and to connect and engage with a targeted audience,” she said.

Media24 chief executive Esmaré Weideman said Media24 remained fully committed to investing in and growing its ecommerce portfolio in order to diversify its operations.

“Spree, our award-winning online fashion, beauty and décor store which launched in 2013, is doing well. Our e-commerce division recently rolled out Efinity, an e-commerce fulfilment service aimed at small and medium-sized merchants. In addition, our distribution company On the Dot is a leading e-commerce warehousing and fulfilment company in South Africa. We are very excited about the prospects of these businesses.”

Weideman said though Rubybox “no longer fits” in the company’s e-commerce portfolio, Media24 wished the company every success.

There have been several restructuring efforts at Naspers’ e-commerce businesses in the last year, with the company’s Kalahari completing its merger with rival Takealot this year, while in February last year the company closed e-commerce sites SACamera, 5rooms, Kinderelo, Style 36 and 5Ounces.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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