Although Jet founder Marc Lore insists he's not competing with Amazon, one can't help but wonder if the Seattle-based e-commerce giant is worried.
The premise of Jet is similar to Costco (COST - Get Report), where consumers pay $50 a yearly membership fee to get steep discounts on everything from toothpaste to televisions. Jet's marketplace sells products from third-party merchants, but offers dynamic pricing so that consumers pay less if they order multiple products from the same retailer, or if they waive returns or use a debit card, for example.
There are plenty of investors who think Jet will succeed. The company has raised a total of $220 million, with its latest round in February valuing the startup at $600 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Plus, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Jet may raise another round of hundreds of millions of dollars by the end of the year, which could bring its valuation to $3 billion.
Amazon has yet to comment on Jet, which is typical for the tight-lipped company. Yet, there is plenty of speculation that Amazon is preparing to counter the upstart online retailer.
Re/Code's Jason Del Rey questioned whether Amazon's recent Prime Day was an initial attempt to fend off Jet. But others think it was unrelated.
"I don't think [recent sales on Amazon are] necessarily in response to Jet," said ITG analyst Steven Weinstein. "I think it's Amazon wanting to really grow the value of Prime and get as many Prime members as they can."
Still, it wouldn't be too surprising if Amazon were to undercut Jet's low prices, says Needham & Co analyst Kerry Rice.
"If price is the only competitive advantage for Jet.com, I believe it will be hard for it to compete effectively with Amazon," he said.
Lore has promised that Jet will undercut Amazon's prices and reach $20 billion in revenue by 2020. The stakes are certainly high, but it's not entirely impossible to see Jet fulfilling these promises.
First off, a number of studies have shown that Jet does in fact beat Amazon's prices on most of its products. And, on top of that, Lore has a ton of experience and clout in the e-commerce industry, having sold his previous e-commerce startup Diapers.com to Amazon for about $550 million in 2010.But it's too early to tell if Jet will have any impact at all on Amazon's business.
"While we do not foresee major disruption to existing marketplaces (Amazon and eBay), there is an opportunity for Jet to establish a foothold with shoppers and a near-term $100 million ad blitz could drive curious shoppers to the site," Baird analyst Colin Sebastian wrote in a research note Tuesday morning.
Lore, for his part, claims that Jet is not directly competing with Amazon, since Prime offers a different value proposition--it costs double the price of Jet but also includes things like movies, e-books, and two-day shipping.
"The market is so big," Lore said in an interview earlier this month. "There's room for multiple players, and we're just going out to the market with a very specific message about spending $50 a year to save hundreds, with a dynamic pricing engine that allows consumers to save if they shop smarter."
Lore added, "It's easy to get distracted with what every competitor is doing, and I just think as long as we execute and deliver on what we said we were going to do, there will be millions of people shopping, and we'll have a nice company."