This could be Louisville’s first huge econ-dev coup of 2013.
Economic development sources are whoo-hooing about the potential arrival of a Boston-based fulfillment-reliant e-retailer that’s made the first steps toward relocating to Louisville.
Our sources say Gazelle, which buys, reconditions and sells Apple computers, tablet and mobile devices, as well as the latest smart phones, is headed to Jefferson Riverport International for access to the UPS Worldport air hub at Louisville International Airport at Standiford Field.
Those sources say the company is days away from being approved for state incentives to relocate.
Mandy Lambert, executive director, Office of Research and Public Affairs at Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, said KEDFA officials do not disclose information about applications for any company prior to approval.
Gazelle executives took our calls, but the conversation was mostly along the lines of, “So, how do you know about this?”
Which we’re taking as confirmation.
In its industry, Gazelle is famous for inventing the term “re-commerce,” buying and selling used electronic devices including iPads.
So, say you have an iPhone 4 and want the iPhone 5? Gazelle will buy your old phone, pay you cash and even pay the shipping costs.
Then they find a good home for your unwanted device in a developing country, turning a sweet profit.
In a story last month, “Boston Startup Gives Cash for High-end Electronics,” Forbes magazine reporter Peter Cohan wrote:
In a January 21 interview with Gazelle CEO, Israel Ganot, I learned that Gazelle springs from his long experience with ecommerce leaders. Ganot co-founded Gazelle in 2006 after he tried to recycle an old Blackberry and the retailer told him it would be happy to take it off his hands for $20.
Over the next five years, Ganot would like to see Gazelle become a “$250 million to $300 million company in the next two to three years” that would have the potential to sell its shares to the public in an initial public offering. In order to get there, he believes that Gazelle must become “a household brand.”
(We’re not quite sure how a 6-year-old company can be a “startup,” but that’s what Cohan wrote.)
Our sources say Gazelle has at least 100 full-time employees. But our sources say the story is how much private equity is behind the company, the fact we’re snagging a growing company from Boston and the fact the company has high-salary positions that will come here.
Gazelle management is international, drawn from top fulfillment companies.
Israel Ganot, co-founder and CEO, is a native of Israel who spent time at eBay and PayPal.
Chris Sullivan, the CFO, worked in finance at DEC, Compaq and Fisher Scientific, according to his company biography.
CIO Ben Katz was CIO of e-commerce giant Rue La La, according to the Gazelle website.
Investors in the 6-year-old company include some of the biggest names in private equity including:
• Venrock, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture capital fund founded by the Rockefeller family.
• Rockport Capital, a Boston-based VC firm with about $500 million under management.
Board members include Austin Ligon, the co-founder and former CEO of CarMax.
More as we learn more.