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Former NFL linebacker Darryl Sharpton is now thriving with an online furniture business 



Darryl Sharpton #51 of the Houston Texans against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 23, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Grant Halverson | Getty Images

As the Houston Texans entered the 2020 National Football League season the same way they exited last season – with a loss – their former comrade Darryl Sharpton was busying winning in retirement.

The former NFL linebacker, who played five season as a professional before leaving due to injuries, told CNBC his e-commerce furniture businesses are thriving with revenue projections almost doubling due a boom in online shopping spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Along with his wife Jessica, Sharpton is the founder of furniture companies Edloe Finch and Albany Park. He said the companies, which have Amazon and Wayfair as wholesale buyers, was estimated to do $10 million in sales this year, up from $3.9 million in 2019. But the pandemic pushed this year’s projection to $20 million.

“With Covid-19, the online shopping trends have accelerated five years into the future,” Sharpton told CNBC in an interview. “We happen to be in a good space at a good time.”

Sharpton, 33, said he’s seeking investors as he wants to expand the Albany Park line. He is not looking to part with too much of the company’s stake due to a potential acquisition offer for the business. 

But whether he keeps the business or offloads it, Sharpton said the company is in a good position as 2020 nears its end. 

Walking away

A 2010 fourth-round draft pick by the Texans, Sharpton retired from the NFL after a plethora of injuries, including a hip injury after signing with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. He also spent time with the Chicago Bears and Washington Football team following his Houston stint.

“I was miserable,” Sharpton said when describing his final moments in the NFL before being cut in August 2015. A series of ankle injuries also helped derail his career, which Sharpton admitted, “I couldn’t take it.”

He finished his career playing in 47 games, recording 176 tackles and one sack. But Sharpton had to turn down one final offer before officially calling it quits. The New York Giants offered him a workout, but Sharpton said he “couldn’t back-paddle” on his decision to walk away. 

Sharpton wanted to focus on e-commerce, a passion he’s had since his college days at the University of Miami. During his senior year, Sharpton said he stumbled across the opportunity to sell furniture after purchasing a sofa from Craigslist.

He recalled entering a woman’s home, which served as a showroom, purchased the sofa, and inquired about her distributor.

“What I realized was a sofa is a serious staple in your house,” Sharpton said. “To start decorating a house, you must have a sofa and a mattress.”

He purchased sofas and marked up the price roughly $50. After leaving the NFL, he took his career earnings – about $4 million – and started his current furniture sites.

“The economics of selling something to somebody intrigued me,” said Sharpton, who studied finance in college.

Asked if he regrets declining the Giants’ tryout, thinking he might’ve resurrected his career, Sharpton said: “I would be lying if I said I never had this moment where I wonder what it would’ve been like if I gave it another shot. But I was looking forward to life after football, though I knew it would be riskier going from a high-paid employee to running your own show.” 

Jessica and Darryl Sharpton on Albany Sofa in green velvet

Source: Melissa Fitzgerald West

Moving forward

Sharpton started Edloe Finch in 2017 and Albany Park in 2019 – both serving as business-to-business e-commerce platforms with Amazon and Wayfair serving as top retail partners. His model transitioned to business-to-consumer after the pandemic and is currently 90% of the business, he said.

The Albany Park line is a sofa in a box brand that “ships directly to a customer’s house in three business days,” Sharpton said. He and his wife design the furniture pieces and have the items manufactured in China and Malaysia.

Despite the current growth of his company, Sharpton recalled his fair share of racism as he traveled throughout the country to attend furniture fairs. Sharpton recalled being stereotyped – often mistaken for a worker at the events – or denied entry altogether.

Fearful the business would suffer due to him being Black, Sharpton, and Jessica, who is Asian and White, initially decided to only use her face on the sites, much to his family’s dismay.

“Today, I can’t imagine being in that place mentally but definitely at the time I was [unsure] if people would feel comfortable with buying furniture from me where they would maybe question everything – the quality, the validity,” Sharpton said.

After taking in only $1.7 million in 2018, Sharpton said the Covid-19-injected sales increased the company’s revenue forecast to $20 million this year, on pace for $60 million in 2021, and could reach $100 million in 2022.

Why sell? 

Sharpton plans to expand the Albany Park line with furniture featuring African prints scheduled to launch in November. With revenue increasing, Sharpton said, “the need for capital isn’t as urgent as it was before.” But he said he would entertain investors experienced in logistics and direct to consumer brand marketing.

Darryl Sharpton

Source: Julie Soefer

Sharpton said a larger mattress in box company discussed acquiring the company. He kept the name private as negotiations are still at the preliminary stages.

Asked why he would entertain offers with business doing well, Sharpton said: “It’s something Jessica and I talk about all the time,” adding his desire to spend more time with his children as another factor. 

He said he’s torn with the potential acquisition offer. “I’ll go back and forth,” Sharpton said of keeping ownership of Edloe Finch and Albany Park for his children’s future.

But while he decides, the NFL’s season will continue through a pandemic, with Sharpton serving as one of the many spectators. Sharpton admitted he’s “at peace” with his football career ending, but admits he misses the sport’s physical contact.

“I didn’t realize how therapeutic that was for me until now,” he said. “But the aspect of being an employee, having to show up at 6 a.m., going to all the meetings, training camps, that part I don’t miss.”

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China’s billionaires see biggest gains ever, fueled by IPOs




Jack Ma, Alibaba Group

Jean Chung | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A spate of IPOs and robust tech growth helped China’s billionaires add $1.5 trillion to their wealth, bringing the total worth of China’s billionaires to $4 trillion, according to a new report, which described the increase as the country’s fastest growth ever.

China minted 257 billionaires over the past year — averaging five new billionaires a week — bringing the total to 878, according to the Hurun Rich List 2020, which tracks wealth in China. That total would exceed the 788 billionaires in the U.S., as measured by Wealth-X. (Wealth-X and others, however, use different methodologies for China and put China’s billionaire count lower than that of the U.S.)

“The world has never seen this much wealth created in just one year,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher. “China’s entrepreneurs have done much better than expected. Despite Covid-19, they have risen to record levels.”

China’s soaring stock markets, a flood of initial public offerings and surging growth in the tech sector have all helped to fuel the country’s latest wealth boom. Jack Ma, the co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba, topped China’s billionaire ranking for the third year in a row, with $59 billion. He saw his fortune increase 45%, due mainly to the upcoming IPO of fintech giant Ant Group.

“The Hurun China Rich List recorded more wealth created this year than the previous five years combined, suggesting that the structure of the economy has evolved, moving away from traditional sectors like manufacturing and real estate, towards the new economy,” Hoogewerf said.

Just as in the U.S., China’s first two months of the outbreak saw massive wealth destruction, followed by a V-shaped recovery for stock markets and then a massive digital boom, according to Hurun.

Ranking second on the billionaire’s list is Pony Ma, founder, chairman and CEO of tech conglomerate Tencent. His wealth increased 50% to $57.4 billion, driven by Tencent’s strong gaming business and growth in Wechat. Ranking third was Zhong Shanshan, chairman of YST, which makes bottled water.

Other big wealth winners over the past year included China’s “food delivery king” Wang Xing of Meituan- Dianping, who quadrupled his wealth to $25 billion, after winning market share from Alibaba. China’s “express delivery king” Wang Wei of SF Express more than doubled his wealth to $35.3 billion, the report said.

Zhou Qunfei of Lens, the touchscreen maker, saw her fortune more than triple to $17 billion, making her one of the three richest self-made women in the world.

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IBM, AMC Entertainment, Logitech, Travelers




Noam Galai | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Check out the companies making headlines in midday trading.

IBM – Shares shed more than 6% after IBM’s third-quarter results showed a third straight quarter of declining revenue. The company earned an adjusted $2.58 per share for the quarter, which was in line with Street forecasts, while revenue was slightly above consensus estimates. IBM did not issue current-quarter guidance due to ongoing uncertainty surrounding Covid-19.

AMC Entertainment — Shares of the movie theater chain sank more than 11% after the company warned of a possible bankruptcy in a security filing related to a secondary stock offering. The company said it could burn through its existing cash by the end of 2020 or early 2021 without additional liquidity.

Travelers — The insurance stock gained 3.9% after it reported better-than-expected results for its third quarter. Travelers reported $3.12 in adjusted earnings per share on $8.28 billion of revenue. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were looking for $3.03 per share and $7.59 billion. The company reported growth in its underwriting business and its investment income.

Logitech — Shares of the accessory maker surged more than 18% after beating on the top and bottom lines of its third-quarter earnings. Logitech earned $1.87 per share on revenue of $1.26 billion. Wall Street expected 57 cents per share on revenue of $841 million, according to Refinitiv.

Procter & Gamble – Shares rose 1.5% after the consumer giant reported better-than-expected quarterly results. The company said its earnings per share came in at $1.63 in its fiscal first quarter, versus $1.42 expected per Refinitiv. Its revenue rose 9% as the pandemic fueled higher demand for its household products. P&G also raised its sales outlook for fiscal 2021.

Regions Financial — The stock popped more than 7% after reporting better-than-expected quarterly results. Regions Financial earned 52 cents per share on revenue of $1.64 billion, compared to the 33 cents per share on revenue of $1.49 billion forecast on Wall Street.

Synchrony Financial — Shares fell more than 4% after reporting disappointing sales for the third quarter. The company made $3.46 billion in revenue, missing estimates of $3.49 billion, according to Refinitiv. Earnings came in in line with estimates at 72 cents per share.

Comerica — The bank’s stock rallied more than 7% after reporting earnings that topped analyst expectations. Comerica earned $1.44 per share, above the 83 cents expected on Wall Street. Revenue came in at $710 million, higher than the forecast $696 million.

UBS — Shares of the bank rose more than 6% after reporting its quarterly profit doubled, driven by strong investment banking and a boost in profit from its wealth management division. UBS also set aside $2.5 billion for potential dividends and stock buybacks.

Revlon – The stock price gained about 1% even after its warning to bondholders that they might not get paid if the company’s distressed-bond exchange fails. The embattled cosmetics retailer said that without 95% participation from bondholders, most of the company’s debt will accelerate and become payable next month, in which case the bonds could be worth next to nothing.

PPG Industries – Shares gained more than 1% after the company reported third-quarter earnings. The paint and coatings maker earned $1.93 on an adjusted basis, which topped estimates by one cent. Revenue also came in above forecasts.

— with reporting from CNBC’s Yun Li, Jesse Pound and Pippa Stevens.

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GM’s official run at Tesla starts with electric Hummer debut Tuesday




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