Exclusive: Jawbone raises more than $100 million
FORTUNE — Consumer electronics startup Jawbone seems to have everything going for it. More than $200 million in venture capital funding. Popular products like the Jambox wireless speaker and the Up fitness-tracking wristband. And a focus on red-hot tech sectors like wearables and the Internet-of-things.
But earlier this year Jawbone ran into a very high-class problem: More consumer demand than it could handle.
The traditional Silicon Valley solution has been to tap venture capitalists for more cash, but Jawbone was concerned that an equity fundraise may take too long. It had millions of back-orders to fill, and a product cycle that was edging dangerously close to the busy holiday shopping season. So it went a different route: Debt.
Fortune has learned that the San Francisco-based company has quietly raised $93 million in debt financing. The first $43 million was provided by Silver Lake (via its Waterman platform) and Fortress Investment Group (FIG), via a specialized security devised by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM). The next $50 million is an asset-based loan provided by J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo (JPM), which is secured against assets like inventory. Jawbone previously had a credit facility with Wells Fargo, but this represents an increase.
“We’ve been experiencing crazy sell-through demand, particularly since the relaunch of Up,” explains Hosain Rahman, Jawbone’s founder and CEO. “It’s been faster than anything we’d had before, and equity is not the most efficient way to scale all that. If you’re a software company with high demand, you just call Amazon (AMZN) and add more servers to your AWS account. But when you build a physical good, there is a lot more that goes into it – ordering materials, manufacturing, delivery… Debt is the most efficient way to finance that.”
This isn’t to say, however, that Jawbone is done with equity. Rahman declined to discuss it, but word is that Jawbone also has raised $20 million in new equity funding from its four largest existing VC backers: Andreessen Horowitz, JPMorgan Digital Growth Fund, Khosla Ventures and Sequoia Capital. It’s already been called down, but actually is a pro rata investment tied to a future equity raise that likely will have an outside lead (the VCs effectively agreed to whatever future valuation Jawbone can obtain).
In addition to J.P. Morgan, Jawbone has been advised on the transactions by Code Advisors.
[Note: An earlier version of this story reported that Kleiner Perkins was among the existing shareholders to participate in the $20m round. It did not].
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