Meet the founders of Jet, the high-profile online retailer with top backers. Can it take on Amazon?

Marc Lore knows a thing or two about online retail. He founded Quidsi, the parent of Diapers.com and Soap.com, and sold it to Amazon in 2010 for $US545 million. Through his first venture and his time at Amazon, Lore says he learned a lot about e-commerce: things like supply chains and building relationships with vendors.

In 2014, he joined with two other Amazon employees, Mike Hanrahan and Nate Faust, to do it all over again. They founded Jet, one of the most hotly anticipated and highly funded new e-commerce companies in years. Jet raised $US220 million before it even launched its site in July. Three months after launch, there’s already talk of achieving unicorn status — with a valuation that could soon top a billion dollars.

Investors like Bain and Google Ventures may be investing in Lore and his co-founders as much as the promise of Jet. Lore says Jet has a model that’s unlike rivals, featuring algorithms that match shoppers’ carts with retailers that want to ship it for that price. It’s supposed to only offer profitable sales to Jet’s partners, and customers get some of the lowest prices on the web. But even with millions in backing, it will be an uphill climb to change shoppers’ habits and get them to think of Jet in the same breath as Amazon and Walmart.

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