rolls over and quits

Associated Press

NEW YORK – is being put to sleep. The San Francisco-based online retailer, known for its commercials with a sock puppet dog and the slogan “Because pets can’t drive,” said Tuesday it is closing down after failing to find a financial backer or buyer. said it is laying off 255 of its 320 employees and plans to sell the majority of its assets, including inventory, its distribution center equipment, its Web site address and its Sock Puppet brand. The company turned the company mascot into a marketing icon this summer, selling the licensed puppet, along with accessories, to toy stores nationwide.

The company’s e-commerce site will no longer be taking orders after Thursday. John Cummings, director of investor relations, said aims to fulfill all of its outstanding orders online and off-line.

Shares of lost two-thirds of their value Tuesday, falling 44 cents to close at 22 cents a share on the Nasdaq Stock Market., which sold everything from catnip to biker-style jackets for ferrets, said in a statement that a lengthy and exhaustive effort to raise capital since last summer and most recently to find a buyer proved unsuccessful. In fact, the company said that out of the more than 50 prospects contacted, fewer than eight were even prepared to visit the company.

“It is well known that this is a very difficult environment for business to consumer Internet companies,” said Julie Wainwright, chairman and chief executive. “With no better offers and avenues effectively exhausted, we felt that the best option was an orderly wind-down with the objective to try to return something back to the shareholders.”

The somber scenario is drastically different from when burst on the scene in February 1999., along with its rivals, moved into an area that was much hyped as a potential gold mine, but never lived up to its promise.

Online pet companies found themselves heavily discounting merchandise in order to attract customers, and the category was hit by consolidations, layoffs and missed profit targets. Even’s February initial public offering failed to attract a lot of interest, according to analysts.

Just last month,, partially owned by San Diego-based Petco, a pet food chain, fired 60 percent of its staff. And closed its doors, selling some of its assets to in June.

“The original premise was that these companies could ship 50-pound bags of cat food and make up for the losses in leashes and toys,” said Rob Lattner, research director at the Gartner Group. What these players failed to realize was that consumers shop differently in pet stores than they do online, he said., however, had some strong assets behind it. It was backed by and had a huge consumer following for its sock puppet.

In fact, was still marketing its mascot as late as last week, teaming up with toy retailer FAO Schwarz for the launch of its latest talking version. The event attracted several hundred people, according to Allen Marcus, vice president of public relations at FAO Schwarz.

“Sales of the sock puppet have been pretty steady,” said Marcus, who said he was surprised by the news.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Marysville firefighters respond to a 12-year-old boy who fell down a well Tuesday May 30, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Marysville firefighters save boy who fell 20 feet into well

The 12-year-old child held himself up by grabbing on to a plastic pipe while firefighters worked to save him.

Highway 9 is set to be closed in both directions for a week as construction crews build a roundabout at the intersection with Vernon Road. (Washington State Department of Transportation)
Weeklong closure coming to Highway 9 section in Lake Stevens

Travelers should expect delays or find another way from Friday to Thursday between Highway 204 and Lundeen Parkway.

Students arriving off the bus get in line to score some waffles during a free pancake and waffle breakfast at Lowell Elementary School on Friday, May 26, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
800 free pancakes at Everett’s Lowell Elementary feed the masses

The annual breakfast was started to connect the community and the school, as well as to get people to interact.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring speaks at the groundbreaking event for the I-5/SR 529 Interchange project on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$123M project starting on Highway 529 interchange, I-5 HOV lane

A reader wondered why the highway had a lane closure despite not seeing work done. Crews were waiting on the weather.

Justin Bell was convicted earlier this month of first-degree assault for a December 2017 shooting outside a Value Village in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Court: Snohomish County jurors’ opaque masks didn’t taint verdict

During the pandemic, Justin Bell, 32, went on trial for a shooting. Bell claims his right to an impartial jury was violated.

Gary Fontes uprights a tree that fell over in front of The Fontes Manor — a miniature handmade bed and breakfast — on Friday, May 12, 2023, at his home near Silver Lake in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett’s mini-Frank Lloyd Wright builds neighborhood of extra tiny homes

A tiny lighthouse, a spooky mansion and more: Gary Fontes’ miniature world of architectural wonders is one-twelfth the size of real life.

Will Steffener
Inslee appoints Steffener as Superior Court judge

Attorney Will Steffener will replace Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis, who is retiring in June.

Mountlake Terrace Library, part of the Sno-Isle Libraries, in Mountlake Terrace, Washington on Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Sno-Isle workers cite safety, unfilled positions in union push

Workers also pointed to inconsistent policies and a lack of a say in decision-making. Leadership says they’ve been listening.

A view over the Port of Everett Marina looking toward the southern Whidbey Island fault zone in March 2021. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County agencies to simulate major disaster

The scenario will practice the response to an earthquake or tsunami. Dozens of agencies will work with pilots.

Most Read