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Flash sales leader Vente Privée has just passed 13 million members in Europe, one of their execs just tweeted. By comparison, the US flash sales leader Gilt Groupe says they have “over 3 million” members. So Vente Privée is something like 4 times larger. (The gap is smaller when talking about revenues: Gilt should do $500 million this year, and Vente Privée $1.5 billion, probably because Americans in general spend more online than Europeans, and Gilt has expanded in other verticals. On the other hand, Vente Privée has been profitable since 2004 and Gilt never.)
But as Vente Privée has just announced its US entry, it shows just what a juggernaut Gilt is up against. Usually when a big tech company enters a startup’s turf, the bull’s case for the small guy is that the smaller startup will have more expertise and focus than the big guy, and that often turns out to be true.
While that may be true for Amazon’s Gilt-killer MyHabit, it just doesn’t apply to Vente Privée: the company literally invented the flash sales model and has been perfecting it for going on 10 years now, crushing both startups and big contenders like eBay in the process.
Now, Vente Privée’s US venture hasn’t even launched yet, and anything could happen. Gilt has certainly built an amazing business over the past few years and has lots of cash in the bank and a world-class executive team. But it’s a reminder of just who Gilt is up against now.