Amazon is reportedly eyeing Boxed.com as an acquisition target, with Jeff Bezos inviting the company's founder and CEO, Chieh Huang, to Amazon’s headquarters this week.
According to a report in the New York Post, citing a source with knowledge of the trip, Bezos invited the Boxed.com CEO to discuss a deal for Amazon to buy the startup, which has been around for four years.
The meeting comes amid reports that Boxed could be a target for Kroger, the supermarket operator that has become an Amazon competitor since Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Food Market. Kroger has been struggling to contend with having the country's leading eCommerce company as a newfound competitor.
The New York Post reported that during the past two weeks, Kroger made an offer of between $300 and $400 million for the company, which Boxed rejected. Kroger hasn’t made a counter offer as of yet. Forbes was cited as reporting the startup is holding out for a sale price of around $500 million.
The report noted that brick-and-mortar retailers are interested in leveraging Boxed to increase their eCommerce offerings, offering the advantages of 24-hour delivery and access to its high-tech distribution centers.
Boxed has been called the "Costco for millennials" because it sells items in bulk, uses fresh food from Costco and sells its Kirkland private-label products. Sources told the New York Post that the Boxed CEO had hoped to get a bid from Costco, but nothing has surfaced as of yet.
“Amazon has largely left Costco alone,” said the source. “But a Boxed acquisition could be a play for Costco’s customer base.”
Boxed has around $100 million in sales and roughly 280 employees. Both Boxed and Amazon declined to comment on the story.