Zazzle Buys Boundless Network As It Battles Teespring For Democratized E-Commerce

Want to sell T-shirts with your face on them, or get your employees shirts with your company name? Zazzle is fighting newcomer Teespring for your business, and it just got some more ammunition. Yesterday, personalized product maker and marketplace Zazzle acquired Boundless Network, a startup that lets companies save money on big branded product orders.

Founded way back in 1999, Zazzle has raised $46 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins, while the Austin-based Boundless raised $12 million since its start in 2005. They’re both likely feeling threatened by Teespring, a Y Combinator company founded in 2011 that’s racked up a massive $56 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz and Khosla Ventures, and has considerable buzz.

Make T ShirtWhile Teespring only sells t-shirts today, the company has told TechCrunch it eventually wants to let people make and sell any product and create their own brand. That could push it even closer to Zazzle’s model. Teespring has also gotten deeper into the discovery and marketplace angle to help shoppers find products from its sellers, much like Zazzle’s browsing-optimized site.

With Teespring’s momentum and ambition, it could also barge into the corporate merch business Boundless is built upon. Companies often end up with way too many logo’d t-shirts or the wrong sizes, but Teespring’s more on-demand model can make sure they only buy what they need.

Zazzle could bring product breadth and manufacturing experience to Boundless, which in turn could provide corporate sales and distribution expertise to Zazzle.

It all may sound a bit silly. T-shirts? Really? But these companies could turn everyone into product designers by equipping us with creation, manufacturing, and distribution tools big brands have. Tech has democratized publishing, art and more. E-commerce could be next.

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