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CafePress – Profile

May 18, 2005

HQ: San Leandro, CA
Founded: 1999
Management: Fred Durham is CEO & Co-founder and the other co-founder is Maheesh Jain. They met at Northwestern University and have shown remarkable staying power for sticking with CafePress despite the market downturn.
Investors: August Capital and Sequoia Capital invested Series B in January 2005. The a:c has requested a dollar amount, but for now it seems that CafePress is burying this. Sequoia’s Doug Leone joined the board.
Business Model: The company is an online printing marketplace for t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. where the logos or messages are created by outsiders and then sold and fulfilled via CafePress. According to a recent roundup in the Wall Steet Journal, t-shirts sales have been an amazing success on the Net. Everyone from College Humor to the John Kerry campaign have done better than expected with t-shirt sales. And CafePress has become a de facto standard due to the fact that it has been around for ages and has always provided good service. The company has been profitable and growing for a good long time.
Competitors: CustomInk, GetInPrint,
Dirt: There are a number of vertical ecommerce companies that are doing substantial business but have not been able to get to liquidity, including, eBags, and Cafe Press. A rollup doesn’t seem to make sense and the revenue requirement is just a lot more than it once was, but what is that number? $200M in annual revenues? We shall see.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2006 6:24 pm

    Edmonton dominated the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night and the 4-0 margin in Game 6 makes it hard to imagine the Oilers not hoisting hockey’s Holy Grail above their heads in less than 48 hours. And it would not come as any shock to see defenseman Chris Pronger, who had another 31-minute night, take the honors for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

  2. June 24, 2009 4:13 am

    Recently CafePress began competing with the artists for whom it acts as printer and shipper.
    CafePress rents web shops to its artists. The artist creates a website page and manually loads the desired blank products. The artist imports his image onto each product, arranges the products on the page, describes the products, titles the products and tags the images.
    Initially, the artist would set a markup and received the markup for each product sold.
    However, recently CafePress began competing with its artists, using the artists’ own images. CafePress created a marketplace where a customer can search a keyword. That search brings up artist products. When the customer buys from the marketplace CafePress pays the artist 10% of the price CafePress set. Both the customer and the artist lose money. If the artist’s shop sells a t-shirt for $21, the artist makes $3.01. If the marketplace sells the same shirt for $25, the artist gets $2.50. The customer pays $4 more, and the artist gets $0.51 less.
    CafePress tells artists to “promote your own shop,” but CafePress buys Google adwords using the very image tags the artist provided.
    CafePress justifies this bait and switch of service terms by telling artists they can opt out if they don’t like the new terms; however, many have spent as much as 7 or 8 years creating as much as 88000 images.
    In spite of their sweat-equity, many shopkeepers (content providers) are building shops at other print-on-demand companies and then closing their CafePress shops due to the broken faith and trust, the financial hardship CafePress has delivered into so many lives, and the huge amount of time and dedicated effort all lost in the momentum of their own businesses. Would you keep your AMOCO station franchise if AMOCO built a company store across the street from you?

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