A Lanham, Md.-based start-up called Optoro has received a $50 million investment led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which is known for prescient bets on companies such as Google, Netscape, Twitter and Amazon.com.
The $50 million includes participation from several Washington investors, including Revolution Growth, the D.C. venture-capital firm led by Ted Leonsis and Steve Case; Grotech Ventures of Tysons Corner, Va.; and Swan & Legend Venture Partners, which includes Fred Schaufeld, one of Leonsis’s partners in the Washington Wizards and Capitals sports teams.
A London-based fund chaired by former vice president Al Gore, Generation Investment Management, also joined the round with a late addition of $10 million.
“Kleiner has supported some of the most iconic businesses in the world,” said Optoro co-founder Tobin Moore. “We are excited to join that family.”
Optoro, which began a decade ago in the Brown University dorm room of a Washington entrepreneur, builds software that enables big-box retailers to redirect their unsold or returned inventory, from laptops to blenders, to online sites such as eBay and Amazon.com.
Returned goods are costly for big-box stores such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Most of the items are new, but they become devalued once they are returned. Traditionally, the belongings have ended up at liquidators or pawnshops.
“It’s an enormous sea of opportunity for them, and they have a great product, a really aggressive, visionary team,” said Daniel Oros, a Kleiner Perkins partner who will join the Optoro board.
Optoro’s proprietary software allows retailers to sell those items directly to more than 500 million customers through its brand, Blinq.
The company has more than 200 employees and a large office in downtown Washington.
Moore said Optoro has tripled its revenue in the 18 months since Revolution began investing.
“They’re creating a brand new category,” Leonsis said in an e-mail. “Re Commerce. An outgrowth of ecommerce. Tobin and [co-founder Adam Vitarello] are a true D.C. creative class success story.”
The money will be used to expand the company’s platforms with current clients, who constitute a majority of the top 20 retailers in the United States.
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