Koala would not confirm how many staff members it employed before the layoffs, though the professional social network LinkedIn puts it at 288. However, that figure is unlikely to be accurate because some people do not update their employment status when they change or leave a job .
Industry insiders, who spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on condition of anonymity to discuss the market candidly, said Koala had once appeared a runaway success that pioneered delivering mattresses in a box in Australia, only to find itself competing with a raft of copycats.
A similar mattress company in the US, Casper, was valued as high as $US1.1 billion in 2019 but went public for less than half that and was taken private again earlier this year after its value fell by about another 40 per cent. In 2020, Koala was reported to be raising money at a $500 million valuation.
Former Australian cricket captain Steve Smith was an early investor in Koala. Several of its former leaders have gone onto found other high-profile start-ups, including co-founder Dany Milham, now chief executive of grocery delivery business Milkrun, and former marketing head, Tim Doyle, now boss of healthcare start-up Eucalyptus.
Koala’s spokeswoman did not give figures on the company’s revenue, profit, capital raising or savings but championed its prospects and said suggestions it had explored an IPO were “not correct”.
“Like any private company with proven success as a market leader in our categories and markets, we are fortunate enough to receive countless inbound introductions from potential investors. They see the opportunity for Koala to continue to disrupt the global furniture market.”
She said Koala’s margins were double those of some competitors and that more than half its Australian revenue was coming from non-mattress products, representing a more diverse business.
“Word of month about our furniture offering and experiences has led to incredible growth in non mattress sales. With many more unique Koala designs being launched later this year, we’re excited to continue this strong growth into all rooms of the home.”
The company was supported by its existing investors. “We will continue to invest in our operations across Australia and Asia,” the spokeswoman said.
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