Brad Moss is a former Amazon product manager turned video game developer. He’s now chief Amazon officer at Brandless, a direct-to-consumer seller of home, health, and beauty goods and an active acquirer of other companies.
Brandless launched in 2017 and famously flamed out in early 2020 after raising close to $300 million in funding. A private equity firm purchased the assets, regrouped, and is now thriving by all accounts.
Moss and I recently discussed the company’s journey and his own, including an interest in AI tools. The entire audio of our conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.
Eric Bandholz: What do you do?
Brad Moss: I’m the chief Amazon officer at Brandless. The company was started in 2017 by two web entrepreneurs who raised nearly $300 million, mainly from SoftBank. The business sold inexpensive, sustainable food and health and beauty items. It didn’t go very well. The company ceased operations in early 2020. A few months later, a private equity group, Clark Capital Partners, bought it and reformed everything. They had a vision for what Brandless could be and brought in the CEO, Cydni Tetro.
Clark Capital put a lot of money into marketing. We still sell products directly, but we’re now more of a brand accelerator. We acquire a company — either an Amazon seller, direct-to-consumer, or retail. When we buy a company, it’s usually weak in one of those positions. We have expert teams come in and accelerate those arms.
We ran Amazon operations for many of the aggregators, particularly Thrasio. We ran most of Thrasio’s portfolio as it was starting for the first year or so.
I like Clark Capital’s model of a slower pace, very choosy. Every brand we purchase grows sales afterward. We add a lot of value when we come in.
Bandholz: What does Brandless look for in an acquisition?
Moss: We’re mainly in the health and wellness space. We have some home products as well. Typically, brands are doing between $5 and $50 million in revenue, sometimes more. If it’s the right deal, we’ll go into it.
We don’t want the owners to hand us the keys to the business and walk away. It’s a much more integrated approach, typically 18 to 24 months with the brand post-sale. There are earnouts and all sorts of benefits as sales continue to grow. But we don’t want owners to leave right away. There are too many skeletons in the closet, many hidden reasons why it couldn’t scale. It’s good to have the owner and the leaders in there for a good amount of time to problem-solve.
Bandholz: What does that integration look like?
Moss: It’s pretty customized. Our mantra is “bolster, don’t break.” Whatever they have going, let’s keep that rolling while adding additional support mechanisms to help accelerate their efforts.
If they’re struggling, we’ll bring the team to help. My role is to oversee everything on Amazon. We often come in and vet. If necessary we’ll assist and find opportunities to make more money. And it’s always a negotiation with the owners. They’re still in the driver’s seat.
Bandholz: You’re doing some side projects in AI.
Moss: Yes. Before starting at Brandless in late 2021, I had my own video game company for 12 years. I’ve launched over 60 games. After joining Brandless, I maintained a game as a side business.
Now, during the AI evolution, we are working on accelerating the game development side. And that has evolved beyond just games to all sorts of AI-driven code and web development. We’ve built a middle layer between large language models and direct business users to help configure AI flows.
These large language models resemble micro brains. You have to train the brain and give it instructions. With this middle layer, you can set up flows with questions unique to your business. These workflows can create content quickly.
AI is becoming so ubiquitous. Big companies move slowly. As entrepreneurs, we’ve got to be leading the way. We’re always at the tip of the spear here, discovering new things, especially with all the technological evolution. That’s a benefit of being an entrepreneur.
Bandholz: Where do folks follow you and support you?