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As voices in the open, a dear start-up imploded

The company declined to comment on the dismissed employees.

The shake-up highlighted the generational friction that can arise between the idealist founders of start-ups, the employees they hire and the experienced executives that their companies often need to be successful. And he added to the questions about the feasibility of money-losing e-commerce start-ups, which in recent years have accumulated stacks of venture capital as they attempt to disrupt the markets of everything from toothbrushes to watches. In the past few months, when investors have become more skeptical, ratings of some of these “consumer-driven” money-burning businesses, such as online mattress company Casper Sleep, have collapsed.

This account of Outdoor Voices’ struggles is based on documents and interviews with 15 current and former employees, investors and people close to the board of directors, some of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal company issues.

“As a young founder, I know my strengths and was excited to bring experienced retail leaders,” said Ms. Haney in a statement. “But in doing so, I was no longer able to lead this company in line with the values ​​and vision that guided me from the beginning.”

“My heart is broken, but I have learned a lot,” he added. A spokeswoman, Michelle Wellington, said Ms. Haney cannot comment further because she has signed agreements that prevent her from talking about the company’s financial situation or its operations.

Peter Boyce II, a partner of the General Catalyst who sits on the board of Outdoor Voices, said that the company, like other consumer-oriented companies, had to meet consumer expectations about the discount on holidays and the rise in marketing costs on Facebook and Instagram.

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“It’s part of the evolution of these activities,” he said. “There is a more sustainable and weighted growth rate that makes sense as companies get bigger, and that is part of an ongoing recalibration in a broader environment.”

Boyce, who said he also spoke on behalf of the major investors, said Ms. Haney had been involved in the board of directors’ search for an “operating partner” for her for about a year and a half, as well as in the latest collection. of effort funds.

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