In late January, Fast CEO Domm Holland said he was fielding "incredible demand" from investors interested in the checkout startup and targeting heady growth this year. Now, Fast may be headed in a different direction.
According to a report from the trade publication The Information Thursday, citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the situation, the one-click checkout company has hired Morgan Stanley to explore a sale of the company following failed attempts to raise more capital. The news outlet also reported the day prior that Holland had told investors Fast planned to lay off hundreds of employees, citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
Spokespeople for San Francisco-based Fast didn't respond to repeated requests for comment on the latest news.
Holland told Payments Dive in January that the company "potentially" had another investment round on the horizon. Based on the ability of competitors to raise capital and the amount of venture funding flowing into the space, Holland had said "there’s a strong play for [Fast] to raise a significant amount of capital," but added he was focused on expanding the business.
Holland also said at that time that Fast "had a lot of acquisition interest," but for the foreseeable future, the company would remain private and grow "as a venture-backed business."
As of January, Fast had raised $124 million since its 2019 founding; its most recent funding round of $102 million came in January 2021, led by digital payments juggernaut Stripe. A Stripe spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.
In January, Holland said the company had nearly 400 employees, and that its checkout services were available on about 1,000 e-commerce sites. He also asserted that Fast was outpacing checkout rival Bolt "in virtually every way."
Over the past year, Holland said Fast had been focused on getting one-click checkout into the market. Still, "we are a venture capital-backed company and we will definitely raise money," Holland said in January.
He touted the "incredible demand to invest in Fast," asserting he had received "15 emails today from VCs" and the company was active generally in the market.
Holland said in January that investors "are really pleased" with the company's progress. Fast had grown "over 650% as a company, and this year we’ll grow even more, as a percentage," he said.
"We have a lot of growth to go. It doesn’t matter how fast we’re growing at the moment, we have literally not scratched the surface of the market we’re in," Holland said in January.
Fast generated about $600,000 in revenue last year, but has been burning about $10 million in cash monthly, The Information reported last Tuesday, citing three unnamed sources.
After reports of potential layoffs, Slack screenshots leaked to the publication the Insider show staff were uneasy about the lack of information coming from company leaders. Holland addressed those concerns in a Slack message last week, saying he knew employees wanted an update, "but right now there isn’t an update we can share with you all without risking the process," the outlet reported.
"This is a tough week, but we are getting through it, and hopefully, next week is infinitely better," Holland said in the Slack message, per Insider.
Holland has encountered business trouble in the past. Back in his native Australia, he previously owned towing company Tow.com.au. NPR reported in February that the Australian company liquidated in 2018 after a multimillion-dollar dispute with the Queensland government. During the legal fight, Holland threatened to sell personal data of 21,000 residents; the country’s Supreme Court then ordered Holland to surrender the information.