Friday, May 01, 2015

Warby Parker Raises $100 Million to Expand Store Network, Technology

Warby Parker Raises $100 Million to Expand Store Network, Technology:

Photo: Warby Parker
Photo: Warby Parker
No doubt about it, Warby Parker is one of the most successful companies to launch this decade, spawning dozens of copycats in the eyewear category and beyond. On Thursday, the five-year-old maker of $95 prescription eyeglasses announced that it has raised $100 million in a funding round led by T. Rowe Price, bringing the company's valuation to a reported $1.2 billion.

Wellington Management and Baillie Gifford, as well as existing investors Tiger Global and General Catalyst, also participated in the Series D round. The company has now raised $115 million from investors all together.

In a statement, Warby Parker said it plans to use the funds to fuel investment in technology and product development, as well as to expand its growing store network and mobile capabilities. The company, which currently employs about 500 people between its corporate offices and its stores, operates 12 brick-and-mortar locations in the U.S., where customers can schedule eye exams, try on glasses and place online orders for delivery in one to two weeks. The company plans to open eight more stores by the end of the year.

But the most exciting development may come from the technology end of the spectrum. Specifically, Warby Parker is looking to bring to market technology that would allow users to undergo an eye exam using only their mobile phones, a spokesperson said. That would be revolutionary indeed.

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