The rise and fall of Zulily: What happened to the Seattle e-commerce giant?

Layoffs, a lawsuit against Amazon and, as of this week, liquidation—the downfall of e-commerce giant Zulily has been drawing both local and national interest.

FOX 13 News spoke with former employees and industry insiders to better understand the local company’s demise.

Sergey Podlazav says he was employed at Zulily for five years. It’s a half-decade he reflects on positively.

"I left the company in May 2022 and, at that time, it was still a pretty large behemoth," said Podlazov. "It’s not one event that led to the fall of the company, it had to be a series of events."

Founded in 2009, the focus of the brand was feminine. Promising eye-popping deals and 9,000 new products a day, Podlazov says they reached customers Amazon could not.  

"The target customer was basically moms and kids," said Podlazov. "There was always something new on the site. It was always exciting."

Seattle local Anna Fuller is the founder and CEO of Halo, a startup boasting weekly flash deals for new moms.

"Zulily really pioneered this approach at online retailing of baby products through this flash-deal model," said Fuller. "I have followed their trajectory and we’re really building upon what Zulily started in the new mom segment."

Fuller says the e-commerce landscape in which Zulily entered back in 2009 is vastly different than what exists today.

"The iPhone had just come out two years before. So most of us weren’t shopping online, let alone on our phones," said Fuller. "They were actually quite revolutionary with the tech that they were using."

For a time, the company was among the jewels of Seattle’s startup scene. Zulily went public in 2013. Two years later, QVC purchased it.

"The company itself has gone through quite a bit of transition. They changed ownership several times. They’ve changed their focus a couple of times," said Fuller. "It’s not on the radar of the millennial mom in the same way that it was 10 years ago, I can tell you that."

According to Podlazov, for a period of time during the pandemic, there was a resurgence. Zulily experienced a couple quarters of double-digit growth. However, when the world reopened, the trend reversed.

READ MORE: Seattle-based online retailer Zulily says it will go into liquidation, surprising customers

"People maybe spent less time shopping online and back to the physical world," remarked Podlazov.

This past summer, the Belltown headquarters were vacated. In December, roughly 800 employees were laid off. In the midst of the chaos, Zulily announced it was suing Amazon over allegations of price fixing.