Just days after approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of a bid to buy Karmaloop, the new owners, Comvest Partners of West Palm Beach, Fla., and CapX Partners of Chicago, have announced Seth Haber as the new CEO, replacing founder Greg Selkoe. When the sale was first announced, Selkoe was described as staying on in an advisory role, however, the last press release announcing the appointment of Haber did not mention Selkoe. Haber is well known in the streetwear world as a former owner of Agenda Trade Shows, which he stepped away from after selling it to Reed Exhibitions in 2012. According to the press release via BostInno, Comvest Partner Robert O’Sullivan said,
“We conducted an extensive CEO search and found a number of highly qualified candidates interested in leading Karmaloop. Throughout the process, Seth distinguished himself as our number one choice. His passion for the streetwear culture, varied experience in the industry and achievement in building Agenda made him a natural fit for the position. We feel very lucky to have found Seth, and even more fortunate that we were able to convince him that this is a unique opportunity to restore Karmaloop to its roots.”
According to BetaBoston, the owners are looking for a new headquarters, but will remain in Boston. The company now employs 70, down from over 250 in 2013. The announcement puts to rest claims made by Dame Dash that he and Kanye West would purchase Karmaloop, a statement he made after the company declared Chapter 11 in late March.
Haber will have to be good because reviving the site will be nothing short of a herculean task. The world of streetwear is a small one and talk of poor customer service not to mention the site’s financial issues is well known in the community and have badly damaged the site’s reputation. A quick glance at the site and its brands/offerings reveal it’s clearly been cut off by a number of brands, which, all told, were collectively owed $19 million at the time of the filing.
As well, over the past three years, the ecommerce platform has grown intensely competitive with most well established brands focusing as much or more on growing their own direct-to-consumer business as sales at wholesale. Still, there are few sites like Karmaloop with a similar size and scope whose focus is purely streetwear, and certainly none share its history as a pioneer not just as an e-retailer, but as a platform for the growth and development of the culture.