Warby Parker @ US$100M valuation

Source: Business Insider, Sep 2011

Two sources involved in the financing and one additional industry source say that Warby Parker is raising a massive round. We’re hearing the valuation is  ~ $100-120 million.

There are other online glasses retailers, but investors’ excitement for New York-based Warby Parker seems to stem from its early traction and the big industry it disrupts.  “It’s an overnight sensation which is very attractive,” says one source.  “It came out of the gate fast and hard and solves a real problem. No one has been able to cut Luxottica [the force behind LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut] out of the market yet.”

While margins for online retailers aren’t huge, glasses are something that are purchased almost annually; the product inherently encourages repeat customers.  One of the sources estimates that Warby Parker has already sold more than 100,000 pairs of glasses in the last year.

Add’l Reference:

WSJ blog

investors have just placed $12 million in Series A capital for the company in a round led by hedge fund Tiger Global, with participation from Menlo Ventures’ Talent Fund and previous investors First Round Capital, Lerer Ventures and Thrive Capital. The company previously raised $1.5 million. The funding was earlier reported by The New York Times.

“One of our goals is to be the first major fashion brand to launch online while offering great value to customers,” co-founder and Co-Chief Executive Dave Gilboa said.

For a fashion brand, Warby Parker thinks a lot about technology. “We view ourselves as a technology-enabled brand,” Gilboa said. The new funding will be used to hire engineers who can build “the best e-commerce functionality out there.”

The site currently allows customers to use a webcam or upload a picture to virtually try on glasses. Gilboa said shopping for eyewear is by nature a social experience and the company is working on tools for customers to share different looks with friends to get feedback.

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