Warby Parker’s co-CEOs continue to talk about an IPO like it’s a “when,” not an “if.” But the “when” still isn’t now.
The eight-year-old eyewear retailer announced a new investment of $75 million on Wednesday led by its existing backer T. Rowe Price that will keep it a private company for at least the near future.
The new funding values the New York City-based company at $1.75 billion, according to a person familiar with its finances, and is expected to help it fuel several new initiatives before having to prove its payoff to public-market investors. Warby Parker last raised a $100 million investment about three years ago that valued the company at $1.2 billion, and has now raised nearly $300 million in total.
“Given the rationale for raising this capital is to invest in future products and services, sometimes those investments are easier to make as a private company,” Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa told Recode in an interview. “And hopefully by the time that we do go public, we’ve proven kind of the value to the business of some of them.”
One of those initiatives, Gilboa said, is the company’s Prescription Check mobile app, which lets eligible customers acquire a new prescription without having to visit an eye doctor in person.
Warby Parker was founded in 2010 and quickly gained popularity for its $95 on-trend prescription eyeglasses that could be ordered online and tried on at home. The company has since opened 65 brick-and-mortar retail shops to complement its online business, and expects to close 2018 with nearly 100 retail locations.
Warby Parker doesn’t disclose its revenue — nor even a year-over-year growth rate metric favored by startups that want to come across as transparent even when they’re not — but says it will be profitable on an Ebitda basis this year for the first time.
Gilboa attributed the profitability breakthrough to accelerating revenue growth, supply chain improvements and the opening of the company’s new Optical Lab, which pulls more assembly work in-house while boosting gross margins.
Warby Parker also recently added its first woman to the board of directors: Youngme Moon, a well-respected Harvard Business School professor who already serves on the boards of Unilever, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten and fast-growing salad chain Sweetgreen. The other seven board members, all men, include Warby’s four co-founders, two investors, and former J.Crew and Gap CEO Mickey Drexler.