| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Dec 6 Gilt Groupe said on
Thursday it hired board member and Citigroup Inc Internet
executive Michelle Peluso as chief executive as the e-commerce
company prepares for a possible initial public offering next
Peluso will replace Gilt founder and current CEO Kevin Ryan
in late February. Ryan will become chairman of Gilt and the
company's current chairman Susan Lyne will be vice chairman, the
Ryan founded Gilt in 2007 as the first major flash sales
company in the United States. Flash sales, pioneered by Vente
Privee in France, are limited-time, online sales of mostly
luxury goods such as apparel and accessories.
Gilt grew fast and raised more than $100 million in 2011 at
a valuation of about $1 billion. It used that cash to expand
quickly into other categories and businesses. But the company
has closed some of these new ventures and cut staff in recent
quarters as it tries to become profitable ahead of what it hopes
will be an IPO in late 2013.
Tapping Peluso as CEO is part of the IPO preparation,
according to Ryan, who said he now spends about three days a
week focusing on Gilt and the rest of his time working on other
businesses including database startup 10gen and news website
"Gilt is going to go public at some point and with new
investors I can't do all these other things," he said. "I'm
getting stretched too thin."
Peluso will be a good CEO for Gilt because the company is
larger now and needs an executive who has experience running a
bigger organization, Ryan added.
Before Citigroup, Peluso was CEO of Travelocity, an online
travel unit of Sabre Holdings, which had thousands of
employees when she ran it, Ryan noted.
"Gilt needs someone who has entrepreneurial spirit but who
can manage at scale too," Ryan said. Gilt has about 1,000
employees now, up from roughly 850 a year earlier, he noted.