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The head of Boxed’s fastest-growing business is leaving amid sale talks with Amazon and Kroger

Behzad Soltani only joined the startup last year.

A Boxed customer unpacking groceries in her kitchen. Boxed
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

The grocery startup Boxed could agree to a sale over the next few weeks. But, if it does, it’ll be doing so without the head of its fastest-growing business unit.

Behzad Soltani, the executive in charge of Boxed’s business-to-business division, is leaving the startup to take a C-level role at another company, Recode has learned.

Boxed announced Soltani’s appointment as a vice president in July, after stints at Keurig and Staples.

A Boxed spokesman confirmed Soltani’s departure.

“Behzad Soltani decided to leave the company and pursue other opportunities,” he said. “We wish him all the best. In his time with Boxed, he helped build a dedicated team focused on serving the needs of B2B customers across the United States.”

The departure comes at a critical time for Boxed, which has held sale talks in recent weeks with both Kroger and Amazon. The heavily funded startup is expected to accept one of the offers it receives during this process, whether from one of those two companies or another suitor.

The company’s Chief Merchandising Officer Heather Mayo, a veteran of Sam’s Club, also exited in the fall after only a year on the job. Her departure had not been previously reported.

Boxed sells bulk-sized groceries and household items like toilet paper through its app and website and ships them to customers’ homes. Boxed’s selection of goods are similar to those found at Costco or Sam’s Club, but Boxed does not currently charge a membership fee.

As a result, Boxed’s prices are typically a bit higher than its brick-and-mortar competitors. But that tradeoff is worth it to some customers who would rather pay up to avoid the crowds shopping in one of the warehouse clubs’ physical stores.

While the biggest part of Boxed’s business involves selling goods to consumers, the fastest-growing division is the one that sells goods to other businesses to stock their offices. This is the division Soltani ran.

Boxed has raised more than $165 million in venture capital from investment firms like First Round Capital, GGV Capital, DST Global, Greycroft and Box Group. The New York City-based company was founded in 2013 and is run by co-founder and CEO Chieh Huang.

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