Silicon Valley gets its Houzz in order
Palo Alto, California-based Houzz says it closed a $400 million Series E financing deal. In Silicon Valley talk, that means it has been handed a fifth round of investment money. The digital home remodeling and design network says it will use the investment to accelerate growth and build its technology offering.
“Our focus on providing the best technology and user experience for home renovation and design enabled us to turn a side project into a global company and to determine, at each stage of our growth, the best path forward for Houzz,” said Adi Tatarko, Houzz CEO and cofounder. “We look forward to further expanding our community and our offering around the globe with support from great new partners and existing investors.”
The new round of funding is being led by Iconiq Capital, and also includes new investors Wellington Management Company. Seequoia, Zeev Ventures and GGV Capital, previous investors, also chipped in.
More than 9 million products are available for purchase on Houzz from more than 20,000 sellers. In 2016, the Houzz increased its employee count by more than 50%, and has more than 1,400 employees in 11 offices.
Since July of 2014, Houzz has launched localized platforms in 14 countries outside of the U.S.;
Will Griffith, of Iconiq Capital, sang the virtues of Houzz’s community and technology. “We are thrilled to join the Houzz family and help the company transform how people around the world design, collaborate, renovate and shop for their homes.”
NAHB issues a statement on proposed Canadian lumber tariffs
The U.S. Commerce Department's preliminary decision to impose anti-dumping duties of up to 7.7% on Canadian lumber imports generated some buzz in the industry yesterday.
Here's what Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas, had to say.
“This latest action by the Commerce Department to impose anti-dumping duties of up to more than 7% on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S. is basically another tax on American home builders and home buyers that will jeopardize affordable housing in America.
“Adding this new tariff to the proposed 20% countervailing lumber duty that the Trump administration slapped on imports of lumber this spring means that total tariffs would be a whopping 27%. Given that lumber is a major component in new home construction, the combined duties will harm housing affordability and price countless American households out of the housing market.”
“A robust housing market is essential to stimulate job and economic growth. With the U.S. housing sector regaining its footing, imposing arbitrary protectionist restrictions to subsidize domestic lumber producers will blunt this forward momentum and make homeownership more expensive for hard-working families. Clearly, this is not the way to resolve the U.S.-Canada lumber trade dispute or to boost the American economy.
“The U.S. relies on Canada for approximately one-third of its lumber needs because of the limited domestic timber supply available for harvesting. Policymakers need to take steps to significantly reduce red tape that prevents the U.S. Forest Service from better managing its timber lands and increase the delivery of domestic timber products into the market.”
Following up: The 2×4 lawsuit
Back in September of 2014, a story about Lowe’s, lawyers and 2x4s whacked an industry nerve. That’s when a Marin County California judge ordered Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe’s to pay a $1.6 million settlement over a lawsuit alleging the inaccurate description of structural dimensional building products.
While industry standards effectively mandate that 2x4s measure slightly less, along with 2x8s and 2x6s and others, the suit was based on legal reasoning along the lines of: “Gotcha! – you said it was 2×4, and we measured it.”
The story was the most clicked of the year at HBSDealer.com. And the industry railed at the craziness of the lawsuit and settlement based on the idea of a 2×4 that doesn’t measure 2×4.
“This decision should be used as a "poster child" for the argument for tort reform,” wrote user-name mflaherty, at the time.
“Any man who hires a builder or architect who is so stupid as to not know the size of a 2×4 deserves to have his roof fall on head,” wrote VikingWolf.
Armed with tape measures, lawyers have struck again.
A class action complaint, Mikhail Abramov vs. The Home Depot, is working its way through the U.S. District Court of Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The suit alleges that when Abramov brought home a 6-foot long 4×4, he was surprised to realize it measured a mere 3.5 x 3.5 by 6. The lawsuit calculates that this shortage represents 23% less mass than he thought he was buying.
In June, the Home Depot said the case should be tossed out of court.
Home Depot is arguing, quite reasonably, that boards measuring a full 2×4 would be ineffective as a building product, given industry accepted standards.
“Retailers such as Home Depot did not create these lumber sizing standards or naming conventions and should not be subject to suit simply for following them,” Home Depot wrote in court papers seeking dismissal. “Plaintiff’s attempt to turn this accepted lumber naming convention into a class action lawsuit should be rejected. To do otherwise would ignore nearly a century of standardization and disturb an entire industry’s reliance on these lumber names.”
A similar Illinois suit, brought by the same law firm representing Abramov, is targeting Menards. The suits were described this way in an Above the Law web site column: ‘Home Depot and Menard’s face the dumbest class action claim ever.”