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The rise and fall of furniture startup Poppin

  • August 18, 2023

All 71 employees at Poppin’s New York City office and showroom at 16 Madison Square West will be let go, according to a required notice filed with the state Department of Labor. Representatives from Poppin did not respond to requests for comment.

Poppin launched in 2012. By early 2013, co-founder and CEO Randy Nicolau told Forbes that the company’s products were resonating in both the consumer and corporate markets.

“The consumer market has already driven thousands of transactions for us in our first three months since launch,” he said, “and the corporate market has driven five to six figure orders.” In 2017, Crain’s named the company to its Fast 50 list and in 2019 to its Best Places to Work list.

Bright and shiny

It was a bubbly time for New York City consumer tech. Warby Parker and Gilt Groupe had paved the way for tech-enabled e-commerce businesses that built charismatic branding and direct-to-consumer sales that kept prices lower. The next generation, including Blue Apron, Boxed and Zola all launched around the same time as Poppin.

Rounds of financing followed. New York venture capital firms who put money behind Poppin included David Tisch’s Box Group, Christopher Burch’s Burch Creative Capital and First Round Capital. All told, the firm raised about $75 million in venture capital before its sale.

Poppin sells modern-looking office furniture, including sitting and standing desks, chairs and desktop organization like paper trays and pen holders. Colors veer away from white, gray and black and into hues like “millennial pink.”  The office market typically operates through a maze of dealers, so the fact that anyone—a startup, a 200-person firm, a freelancer—could order a $450 desk online was refreshing.

Post-pandemic slowdown

Though Poppin sold to both individual consumers and businesses, the Covid work-from-home era proved to be an obstacle,

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