Houlihan Lokey Advises Outward

Houlihan Lokey is pleased to announce that Outward Inc. has been acquired by Williams-Sonoma, Inc., (WSI) (NYSE:WSM) for $112 million. The transaction closed on December 1, 2017.

Outward is the leading 3-D imaging and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) platform for the home furnishings and décor industry. Outward provides the world’s leading next-generation visual merchandising platform, allowing e-tailers to efficiently create highly immersive, interactive digital experiences across their entire SKU catalog, boosting shopper conversion and loyalty. Outward’s 3-D, AR, and VR solutions enable brands to visualize product variance and optimize for each customer and channel, resulting in increased dwell time, engagement, order size, and basket size, which consequently leads to material revenue uplift. Outward’s platform, based on unique IP in machine learning and computer vision, is capable of ingesting hundreds of millions of SKUs in a fraction of the time required by alternative techniques, allowing Outward to rapidly scale with its customers’ needs.

This strategic acquisition will enable WSI to enhance and extend its high-touch customer service platform and develop technologies with Outward that continue to transform the shopping experience for consumers. Outward will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of WSI and will be managed by Outward’s current leadership team. Outward will maintain existing operations under the Outward brand while expanding its digital capabilities and servicing its customers around the world.

"Williams-Sonoma, Inc., is a best-in-class retailer with a tremendous depth of knowledge and experience, as well as an industry-leading multi-channel platform," said Clarence Chui, President and Founder of Outward. "Joining the WSI team presents us with a unique opportunity to extend our leadership at the intersection of imaging technology and retail and allows us to strengthen our support of existing customers and the entire home industry. We look forward to partnering with WSI to create the next generation of online, in-store, and design service experiences and execute on our shared belief that technology and innovation drive business."

"Outward brings proprietary and transformative technology at the forefront of our industry, and we welcome them to WSI," said Laura Alber, President and Chief Executive Officer of WSI. "We are excited to own and collaborate in the further development of Outward's technology that enables applications in product visualization, digital room design, and augmented and virtual reality. Together, we will drive digital innovation to create highly engaging and interactive consumer shopping experiences."

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