New York eyewear startup Warby Parker could soon see its stock trade on public markets, according to sources.
Multiple sources have told Business Insider that the company is working with Goldman Sachs to consider its options. One source says Warby is considering filing for an IPO under the JOBS Act. However, it’s still possible the online eyewear company could raise more private capital in a market where startup valuations are soaring.
Goldman Sachs declined to comment. Warby Parker also declined to answer questions.
A prior report in Bloomberg said investors were looking to invest in Warby Parker at a valuation of $US1 billion — although one source said that valuation may be higher on public markets.
Warby’s valuation has only been going up
Since its launch in 2010, Warby Parker has steadily grown its valuation over a series of funding rounds that would net it more than $US100 million from investors including Tiger Global Management, General Catalyst Partners and First Round Capital, among others. The most recent round of funding for Warby Parker, about 15 months ago, valued the company at about $US500 million.
Armed with co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal’s lessons from VisionSpring, a non-profit looking to bring better eye care to developing nations, the company looked to solve two needs at once. Warby Parker first looked to disrupt the $US700-a-pair high-end eyewear industry dominated by Luxottica with Chinese production of quality glasses. And, also, Warby sought to extend VisionSpring’s initiative, providing eyewear to those in need (the company’s site says it has given away a million free pairs of glasses).
The company has been setting up locations from coast-to-coast, including showrooms and full-service shops alike. Already, Warby Parker has three stores or showrooms in Los Angeles, four in New York City, plus locations in San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Austin, Philadelphia, Nashville and Richmond, Virginia, with more locations expected next. Warby Parker is based in New York, and its expected offering comes on the heels of another NYC-based startup’s anticipated IPO, craft marketplace Etsy.
There’s been some turnover in Warby’s executive suite
Warby has seen some attrition at the top: Fortune reported earlier in the month that Andy Hunt has resigned to launch an investment firm and Jeff Raider has transitioned into the co-CEO role with shaving startup Harry’s, although his LinkedIn profile still reflects an affiliation with Warby Parker.
For the literary set, the name Warby Parker is likely a little familiar: it is an amalgamation of a couple of Jack Kerouac characters: Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker.
Warby Parker even makes a monocle. According to its site, the monocle is “the perfect accessory for robber barons, tyrants, and super villains.”
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