Who owns Wayfair? The company's troubled history and its latest 'child trafficking' scandal

Who owns Wayfair? The company's troubled history and its latest 'child trafficking' scandal
Niraj Shah (Getty Images)

In a piece of shocking news, e-furniture store Wayfair became the subject of a conspiracy theory after its name started trending on social media on July 10 morning. The uncorroborated theory first started floating on Reddit's "r/conspiracy" subreddit forum a day before.

It started when a bunch of items such as cabinetry and sets of pillows were being sold for over $10,000, and this grabbed many eyeballs. Quite shockingly, all of the items appeared identical but they allegedly had different names written on the item descriptions. As per claims being made on the Internet, many believe that the home goods company is selling "missing children" as the cabinets or the "large boxes" looked like the same product and had different names, which are allegedly mostly of girls, and particularly of missing children. 

Later, Wayfair refuted the claim in a press release: "There is, of course, no truth to these claims. The products in question are industrial grade cabinets that are accurately priced. Recognizing that the photos and descriptions provided by the supplier did not adequately explain the high price point, we have temporarily removed the products from site to rename them and to provide a more in-depth description and photos that accurately depict the product to clarify the price point."

Niraj Shah, chief executive officer of Wayfair LLC (Getty Images)

With the brand's name embroiled in the controversy, many are wondering who owns the company and if there is anything fishy in its past? Entrepreneurs Niraj Shah and Steve Conine founded Wayfair in August 2002 and its headquarter was set up in Conine's nursery, Boston, Massachusetts. The pair joined hands for the venture after running two companies — Simplify Mobile and iXL, a global consulting firm — together. While Shah is the CEO, both Shah and Conine share the position of chairman of the company.

Here are five interesting facts about the company.

Original name

Since day one, the company struggled with its identity. It wasn't born out of a vision or aspiration, the name was a combination of two words that a marketing agency paired together. The company was first known as CSN Stores, from the founders' initials. Its first website was racksandstands.com, where it sold media stands and storage furniture. Later, patio and garden goods supplies were added along with home décor, office, institutional, kitchen and dining furniture and materials, bed and bath materials, luggage and lighting.

South Dakota lawsuit

In 2017, Wayfair reportedly spent more than $500M in advertising. That same year, the company got embroiled in a South Dakota lawsuit where the company was told to collect and pay state sales tax. The court ruled its judgment in favor of the state saying that it may charge tax on purchases made from out-of-state sellers, even if the seller did not have a physical presence in the taxing state.

Way Day sale

2018 proved to be a big year for the company. On April 25, 2018, the sales quadrupled in comparison to an average day as the company hosted its first Way Day sale. The number of unique buyers on Way Day reportedly rose nearly 400 percent.

Wayfair Inc. employees participate in a walkout after the company sold more than $200,000 in bedroom furniture to a Texas detention facility for migrant children on June 26, 2019, in Boston, Massachusetts (Getty Images)

Non-political employees

In 2019, Shah was caught up in a controversy after he allegedly said the company wanted non-political employees. At a business panel, when the CEO was asked what Wayfair was looking for in new hires, apparently he named two qualities — talented and non-political.

According to the Boston Business Journal, Shah was quoted: "We're generally just looking for people on two sets of criteria. One, it's just that… they're incredibly talented. They're intelligent, quantitative. Just that we think they have the raw material to really succeed and we feel confident. The second thing we look for — equally important — is the cultural fit. So we're bringing in non-political, you know, highly collaborative, just very driven and ambitious. There's a whole lot of cultural values that we think are important while we succeeded. We only hire (those candidates) who have these two sets; both kinds of traits for success." Later, Wayfair refuted his statement and said that the quote was "misinterpreted and inaccurately positioned in this story".

Employee walk-out

Wayfair employees protested and almost several hundreds of them walked out in the wake of the retailer’s BCFS contract to sell beds to temporary migrant detention camps. Just before the protest, Wayfair announced it would donate $100,000 to the American Red Cross because of its “effort to help those in dire need of basic necessities at the border". However, according to a report in The Cut, an employee argued that the donation should instead go to RAICES, a non-profit that provides legal services to immigrant children, families and refugees.

MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) cannot independently verify and does not support any claims being made on the Internet.

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