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Stitch Fix’s IPO Is More Exciting Than Its Stock Would Have You Believe

Stitch Fix Inc. Chief Executive Officer Katrina Lake InterviewStitch Fix Inc. Chief Executive Officer Katrina Lake Interview
Katrina Lake, founder and chief executive officer of Stitch Fix Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg television interview in San Francisco on Thursday, Aug 14, 2014.Photograph by David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Though it started off with a bang, shares of consumer tech company Stitch Fix closed its first day trading as a public company with a barely a blip.

The online personal stylist’s stock, which traded as high as $18.53 during the day, closed at $15.15 on Friday, just 1% above its already-downsized initial public offering price or $15. That gave the company valued at about $275 million as a private company a market capitalization of about $1.46 billion.

Stitch Fix’s IPO reportedly already raised some eyebrows on the roadshow, with some investors wondering about the long-term prospects of a company sitting in the path of Amazon. The e-commerce giant has been testing a service dubbed Prime Wardrobe.

Despite the speculations about the firm’s future viability though, its IPO already represents gains in other areas.

Thirty-four-year-old Lake is the first female CEO to take a tech company public this year. She helms a management team split 50-50 by gender, according to its IPO filing. Of Stitch Fix’s seven seat board of directors, three are women. That’s 43% against the near 28% of female board appointments in 2016.

She’s also likely to claims the net worth of a millionaire — adding a drop to the women’s side on the unbalanced world wealth scale. According to Capgemini World Wealth Report 2017, about 38.3% of people with over $1 million in net worth are women.

Following Stitch Fix’s IPO, Lake holds at least $219.6 million in assets. Lake sold at least a million shares of the clothing and tech company for a cash windfall of about $15.2 million. Additionally, the executive holds a stake in the Stitch Fix worth $204.4 million— 15.4% of the company. Lake also holds a stake in food delivery company Grubhub, where she serves as a director, worth $53,895 as of Friday.

But inevitably, whether or not Lake can maintain both that wealth and potentially, the gender balance of her management and board, depends to some extent on her ability to keep shareholders happy and the stock price up.

And odds are already stacked against her favor.

Research has shown that she will likely be judge far more harshly than a male executive in that same role. Yale psychologist Victoria Brescoll found in 2012 that women who spoke more than their male counterparts in professional settings were usually punished. Another study by the same professor revealed that women leaders are often judged more harshly for their failures than men in top positions.

Though on a more optimistic note: Companies with more women in the c-suite tend to be more profitable, according to a Peterson Institute for International Economics working paper. There’s also evidence that companies with women CEOs provide higher returns on stocks.

So who knows? Only time can tell.