After a tumultuous year that included lay-offs, a major pivot, and bad press, Fab announced today the departure of co-founder and chief design officer Brandford Shellhammer, who will transition to a non-executive adviser. Jason Goldberg remains the design retailer's CEO.
Shortly after the company announced the news to the staff, Shellhammer (above, left) published a post on his personal blog where he explained in somewhat coy terms why he's leaving the company he help found four years ago:
"I too have a personal mission. As I remain today a shareholder and a non-executive advisor to Fab, I also have the desire to explore, discover, and see the world and do other things. What’s next for me? I don’t know yet and don’t intend to for some time. That’s part of exploration," he wrote.
Goldberg (above, right) echoed a friendly mutual split in a company blog post, and added he felt "fortunate" that Shellhammer would remain an adviser.
The news tops an eventful year for the New York-based company. In April, the company pivoted from a flash sales site to an e-commerce business, and in June raised $150 million in a fourth round of financing, bringing the company total to a whopping $336 million. Around the same time, Bloomberg published an unflattering story about the company, reporting that its $1 billion valuation was shaky and that its founders had created a toxic culture among employees. Goldberg responded point by point in a company blog post.
In addition, the company has made two rounds of layoffs this year, letting go 100 employees in Berlin early this summer, and then another 100 from its New York headquarters last month.
Many see Shellhammer's departure as a big loss for the company.
“The role that Bradford played, which was tastemeister extraordinaire, becomes different in the new company,” early investor and board member Allen Morgan told Forbes. “In the new model, you have a different kind of merchandising that successful e-retailers need, part data-maker and part data-scientist.”
Goldberg and Shellhammer launched Fab in 2011, and their path to Fab from a failing social network became an oft-told tale about pivoting in the New York startup world.
The duo sat down with Inc. in 2012. In this video you can get a sense for the company's roots and the two founders' unique and contrasting styles.
A Start-up About-Face: From Fabulis to Fab
The fast-growing online retailer's design chief is stepping away from the company he help found four years ago. In resigning, Bradford Shellhammer (pictured left) cites his personal mission.