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Wag, the dog-walking app founded in Los Angeles in 2015 by Josh and Jon Vilner, Joshua Metzger, and Brendan Rogers, became a media darling in 2018. At the time, the world’s largest tech investor, SoftBank Vision Fund, had invested $300 million in the startup in an effort to dominate the then $180 billion pet services industry. With a total raise of $361.5 million on a $650 million valuation, Wag enlisted celebrities Kendall Jenner and Mariah Carey to help build its brand — but dog days soon fell upon the buzzy app when it found itself embroiled in an onslaught of customer care issues, including a high profile pooch-napping scandal.
By mid 2019, Wag was losing market share to Rover, a formidable rival with $310.9 million funding, a $970 million valuation, and five times Wag’s US sales, according to Second Measure. A price war fueled by aggressive discounting was eroding Wag’s profit margins, and by year end, SoftBank had sold back its near 50% stake in the company, voicing concerns over earnings as it addressed other portfolio losses from Uber and WeWork.
In November 2019, Garrett Smallwood, vice president of products and partnerships, was named the new CEO of Wag. Working with board members Niko Bonatsos of General Catalyst, Roger Lee of Battery Ventures, and Scott Stanford of Acme, he shifted Wag’s North Star from growth to focusing on profitability, set out to close its Los Angeles headquarters, and finished slashing staff in a dramatic 80% workforce reduction. In just 90 days, operating expenses were cut by 80%.
Wag emerged with fewer than 100 employees, down from 500 at its peak. Now headquartered in San Francisco and operating remotely in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it was serving more than 150,000 pet caregivers …read more
Source:: Business Insider