Internet sensation The Dodo and pet insurance provider Petplan appear to have dissolved plans to build a partnership. Both parties have refused repeated requests to comment since mid-September, and the Petplan camp has offered “no updates” since our story in April.
Last October, the announcement was all but shouted from the rooftops:
“Petplan, North America’s Most Comprehensive Pet Insurance Provider Partners with The Dodo to Reinvent the Pet Insurance Industry
Announces “Fetch by The Dodo” — the first pet wellness brand dedicated to deepening the human-pet connection through technology, content and highly-personalized care…”
Two weeks ago, Petplan CEO Paul Guyardo and spokesperson Robin Shallow said they did not have an update when asked where things stood and whether Petplan was moving forward with a “Fetch by The Dodo” rebranding. Group Nine spokesperson April Mellody also told TCR there was no update but advised that an announcement was forthcoming and to “standby.”
No announcement came.
Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer (Group Nine is the parent company of The Dodo) did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, but Group Nine Media’s regulatory filings with the SEC appear to have stopped mentioning Petplan or Fetch in early 2021.
In earlier SEC filings, Lerer’s biography notes his membership on Fetch, Inc.’s Board of Directors. In a December 2020 SEC filing, Lerer’s biography reads:
Ben Lerer is our Chief Executive Officer and Chairman …He currently sits on the Boards of Directors of Casper Sleep, RaisedByUs, Urban Upbound, and Fetch, Inc. We believe Mr. Lerer is well qualified to serve on our Board of Directors due to his knowledge of the digital media sector and extensive leadership experience in operating and advising digital media companies.”
His biography appearing on the website “GNACINC” which stands for “Group Nine Acquisition Corp, Inc.”, reads as follows:
Ben Lerer is Chief Executive Officer and Director of GNAC. He concurrently serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Group Nine Media. Mr. Lerer has led Group Nine Media since its inception, successfully rolling up and integrating four digital content publishers, Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo, and Seeker, to form the company in 2016. Since 2016, Mr. Lerer has led Group Nine Media’s acquisitions of award-winning production studio, JASH in 2017 and prominent digital lifestyle brand for women, POPSUGAR, in 2019.
A December 2020 SEC filing described the deal this way:
“In April 2020, Group Nine Media completed a trademark licensing deal with Petplan, an animal insurer, pursuant to which Petplan will be rebranded as Fetch by The Dodo, an extension of Group Nine Media’s The Dodo brand, in exchange for which Group Nine Media will receive royalties and equity in the business,” the 2020 statutory filing from Group Nine read.”
However, “Fetch by The Dodo” has not appeared again in a Group Nine filing. Asked if there is now a possibility that the rebranding is not going to happen, Robin Shallow, a spokesperson for Petplan did not respond.
Last spring, TCR chronicled Petplan’s three-year tailspin, culminating in the technology troubles that came with a misguided and mismanaged foray into insurtech.