After a career at Google, AOL and Verizon watching digital disrupt media and advertising, Tim Armstrong is now focusing on digital’s transformation of retail.
Today he’s announcing his new company, the dtx company, which stands for “direct to consumer.” (The all-lower-case name is intentional.)
Its mission, Armstrong says, is to “empower consumers and companies to build direct relationships.” His company will invest in start-ups in this space and work with these brands to help them scale. Additionally, dtx will launch pop-up experiences to introduce a broader range of direct-to-consumer companies to people around the country.
Armstrong’s thesis is built on the explosion of direct-to-consumer retail. He says he sees the economy transforming away from a “one-way, wholesale distributor relationship,” thanks to technology around social media and payments, in particular.
“The distribution structure of social, search, YouTube, and their ad formats, allow these companies to put everything in their product catalog directly in front of consumers,” says Armstrong. “The payments space, though complicated now, is on the verge of getting a lot easier. And the systems getting built now are allowing companies to get real-time direct relationships built with consumers.”
Investments and next steps
Today Armstrong is announcing dtx’s first round of investments, which he characterizes as “direct to consumer companies that are making a core part of someone’s life better. They’re innovating on things like payments, customer feedback, they’re innovating products, and they’re run by game-changing founders.”
The six companies are largely focused on female consumers and include health beverage company Dirty Lemon, manicure company OIive & June, footwear maker Margaux, bra-maker Third Love, and Argent, which makes workwear for women. One investment, Niche, is not a product company but rather offers consumers a way to compare and analyze schools and neighborhoods.
Later this year, Armstrong plans to launch “experiences” featuring a broad range of direct-to-consumer companies.
He describes the experiences, which will pop up around the country, as a cross between the Consumer Electronics Show and Coachella. In a space as large as a football field consumers will be able to experience more than 20 different brands, which until now have lived primarily online. Consumers will be able to try new fitness equipment, taste the latest food and beverages, try the latest entertainment experiences, such as virtual and augmented reality, and check out new products.
Armstrong says this “festival of the future” is designed for markets such as Memphis, which are underserved in terms of these kinds of products and experiences.
“We want to go to the places that don’t have access to all the cool things happening in New York, LA and San Francisco but have growing income and interest,” says Armstrong.
Armstrong is also launching another tech company, based in Santa Monica and co-founded and co-funded with Amit Kapur, which he described as a “talent platform.” Kapur is the former COO of MySpace and sold his adtech start-up Gravity to AOL.