How one startup may have accidentally changed the future of exit strategies

When the Federal Trade Commission swooped in to prevent a potential $1.37 billion sale of the trendy grooming-products startup Harry’s, the company’s two co-founders learned some of the toughest lessons of hardball capitalism, Inc. reports.

Through a combination of direct-to-consumer and bricks-and-mortar retail strategies, Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield, who launched their New York City-based razor startup in 2013, became a key player in shaving, with Harry’s accounting for nearly 7% of U.S. nondisposable-razor sales in 2019. So when they were offered $1.37 billion to sell Harry’s to Edgewell Personal Care, the deal seemed a win-win: Edgewell needed some serious modernizing, and Harry’s had global ambition across the entire personal-care industry. 

However, eight months later, the deal fell apart. The FTC announced that it would sue to block the deal. Their apparent sin: competing too well against razor giant Gillette. But isn’t antitrust law supposed to work the other way?

Edgewell pulled out rather than fight.

Those eight months changed more than one startup’s trajectory. Many wondered if the Harry’s experience spelled trouble for other challenger brands hoping to one day engineer similar exits. 

But Raider and Katz-Mayfield relished in their challenger status, picked a fight with a consumer goods giant and made the biggest deal of their lives. The new vision for Harry’s, in fact, might promise an even greater rush than getting acquired ever could have.

Read the full story to learn how Harry’s may have accidentally changed the future of exit strategies forever—and how it’s taking on the personal-care industry next.