Markets: Eyewear Retailer Warby Parker Files For IPO

Warby Parker logo

A certain startup known for its chic brand of eyewear is charging ahead with its plans to debut on the public markets. It’s Warby Parker, a brand that’s won many customers in the eyewear space since it was founded about a decade ago.

  • Warby Parker has unveiled its S-1 filing for an initial public offering, clearing the way for its imminent Wall Street debut. It’s holding a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange, meaning it’s bypassing intermediary banks to sell its shares directly to the public, a path that’s become favored among startups of this era.
  • As usual with S-1 filings, it provides a great insight into Warby Parker’s business with info that’s been shielded from the public before now. Here, we’re extracting some insight from the bulky filing to break it down into clearer bits, mostly on the company’s revenue stats.

By the Numbers

  • Warby Parker’s business was having a good time of steady growth before the Covid pandemic of 2020 interfered and brought down that growth. It’s because a great deal of the company’s sales comes from its physical retail stores, which had to close down for three months last year.
  • In raw figures, Warby Parker made $394mn in sales in 2020 and this was up only 6% from the previous year, compared to a 36% growth from 2018-2019. Now coming into 2021, it has been better for the company as it reported a 53% revenue growth in the first six months; $271mn compared to $177mn a year before.
  • In 2019, 65% of Warby Parker’s sales came from physical retail and 35% from online sales, but in 2020, it took a turn with 60% from online sales and 40% from physical.
  • Overall, Warby Parker isn’t profitable but slightly so relative to its sales. It reported a $10mn net loss in the whole of 2020 and $20mn in the first six months of 2021.
  • As expected, most of Warby Parker’s sales are from its chic glasses, both for prescription and fashion, and then a minority from complementary products like contact lenses. The split was 95%-5% in 2020. 
  • With the power of marketing, Warby Parker has won many hearts to its brand of eyewear sold at a high premium compared to manufacturing costs, making it one of the most successful direct-to-consumer brands out there.

On its own, Warby Parker is like a beacon of light in the world of venture-backed DTC startups. It’s raised about $500mn in funding, with its last round valuing it at $3bn.

  • Going into its IPO, major Warby Parker shareholders include Tiger Global, D1 Capital Partners, Durable Capital, General Catalyst, and founders Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa.
  • Warby Parker will list on the New York Stock Exchange with a yet to be determined stock ticker.

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