Dog-Walking app backed by SoftBank loses CEO amid sale talks
INTERNATIONAL - The dog-walking app Wag has become a symbol for critics of SoftBank Group Corp.’s investments in technology startups—a seemingly frivolous and unproven business with far more money than it needs.
The departure of its chief executive officer Tuesday will do little to quiet the skeptics.
Hilary Schneider, the outgoing CEO, joined Wag Labs Inc. early last year around the same time that SoftBank invested $300 million in the startup. She’s leaving to become CEO of Shutterfly Inc., the photo printing company that was sold to private equity in June. The partner at SoftBank who led the Wag funding round, Jeff Housenbold, ran Shutterfly for 11 years.
Schneider will be replaced at Wag by Garrett Smallwood, the company’s vice president of product and partnerships. Smallwood dropped out of the University of Arizona’s undergraduate program in 2010 and later helped start a company that arranges loans for people who can’t afford to pay health care bills, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Wag acquired his company in 2017.
In her goodbye email to staff, Schneider said Wag has more than 150,000 dog walkers. Wag has been exploring a sale of the business that will likely be for less than the $300 million SoftBank put in, people familiar with the discussions said last month.
Smallwood emailed employees Tuesday and talked up the company’s partnership with Petco Animal Supplies Inc., one possible acquirer. He said he would address staff at a meeting next week. “I’m excited to reconnect at the next Weekly Bark on Monday,” he wrote.