Before Starbelly, Keywell and Lefkofsky founded a sportswear company called Brandon Apparel. Everyone remembers things they said a decade or more ago they may regret today.
Lefkofsky’s track record, reflecting failures and successes, bears certain hallmarks: rapid revenue growth accompanied by big losses, a penchant to sell stock early on, and lawsuits filed by investors, lenders or customers who feel they have been wronged.
Lefkofsky began his first venture, athletic-apparel maker Brandon Apparel, which he and Keywell bought after graduating law school together, in 1994.
“It ended up being a huge failure,” Lefkofsky wrote on his blog.
At first, the company — like Groupon — saw fast growth, with revenue rising from $2 million to $20 million. “We over-leveraged the company and it eventually crumbled under the weight of that debt,” Lefkofsky wrote.
Not long after that transaction, Ha-Lo declared bankruptcy.
In early 2000, Starbelly sold itself to another company called Ha-Lo Industries for 0 million, much of which went to the author of those words, a man named Eric Lefkofsky. It was written in an email by the co-founder of a company called Starbelly.com, which labeled itself a B2B provider — back when people greeted that phrase with a straight face. It’s pretty much what you’d expect a novice executive to say back then, when it was all about money and not at all about creating something good. if we get wacked [sic] on the ride down-who gives a shit… WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE…” This is a quote from the dot-com era.Shareholders and others blamed the Starbelly deal, and a series of lawsuits ensued.Eric Lefkofsky is the co-founder and chairman of Groupon, which filed last week for an IPO valuing the company at billion, as well as its largest shareholder, with a pre-IPO 22% stake in the company.