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ModCloth’s former CEO Matt Kaness has left Walmart just a year after the acquisition

The former Urban Outfitters executive’s role had been in question for several months.

Four women model ModCloth clothing
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.

Matt Kaness, the former CEO of ModCloth who sold the women’s fashion retailer to Walmart one year ago, has recently left the mammoth brick-and-mortar retailer, multiple sources have told Recode.

Walmart acquired ModCloth in March of last year to help boost the fashion assortment of its subsidiary, and Kaness continued to run that retail operation for the next few months. But the retail industry veteran later turned down a move from San Francisco to Los Angeles after Walmart management decided that the CEO role should be based there, ultimately paving the way for his exit, according to one source.

A Walmart spokesperson confirmed the departure and added: “We thank Matt for his contributions to ModCloth and wish him all the best in the future.” Kaness did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.

Kaness joined ModCloth as CEO in early 2015 after a stint as chief strategy officer of Urban Outfitters. Under Kaness’s leadership, the vintage-inspired clothing retailer grew its private-label business and tested out physical showrooms. But ModCloth found itself in trouble last year as a debt repayment came due and the company was unable to secure new venture funding.

That scenario set up a fire sale to Walmart for a price reportedly under $50 million. When Walmart continued its acquisition spree by acquiring menswear brand Bonobos in June, e-commerce chief Marc Lore decided that ModCloth leadership would report to Bonobos co-founder and CEO Andy Dunn.

And Dunn and Walmart management decided that whoever ran ModCloth as CEO needed to be based in Los Angeles, where important divisions like design and merchandising were already based, according to one source. Kaness declined to make that move, at least in part because he did not want to uproot his family from the San Francisco Bay Area, these people said.

ModCloth’s CEO role is now held by former Bonobos Chief Financial Officer Antonio Nieves, who also previously held the same role at ModCloth.

Kaness stayed at Walmart for a few months after declining the move to Los Angeles, and held the title of EIR — or executive in residence — according to his Twitter bio. It is believed that at some point Kaness was charged with finding a company for Walmart to acquire that he would then run, according to a source, but that opportunity apparently never materialized.

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