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What Glossier’s grandiose plans for expansion mean for its brand identity

February 10, 2020, 2:44 PM UTC

This article originally ran in Term Sheet, Fortune’s newsletter about deals and dealmakers. Sign up here.

Over the last several years, countless profiles have been written about cult beauty startup Glossier and its CEO Emily Weiss. 

In 2017, Entrepreneur Magazine called Weiss “a millennial girlboss.” In 2018, The Cut dubbed her “the millennials’ Estée Lauder.” In 2019, she became Vanity Fair’s “prescient founder [who] created a beauty start-up for the ages.”

Now, in 2020, Weiss has her eye on global expansion. As the founder of a billion-dollar company, she recently told Wired that she aims to build “a very big, long-term, enduring business and company.” Over the weekend, I read that Wired feature, which lays out Weiss’s plan to reach new customers and convert them into Glossier loyals. Here’s the part I found the most interesting:

While being selective about which products to release has become a key part of Glossier’s brand, Emily Weiss says that the one thing she constantly hears from customers is that they want more. 

“They want more makeup. They want more merch. They want things we had never considered that we should even have any business making,” she says. In 2019, the company pushed the boat out into more colourful waters with its first sister line, Glossier Play, which includes makeup products such as coloured eyeliners and glitter gels for a more dramatic look. People have also asked for non-beauty products: Glossier candles, Glossier lingerie, a Glossier-designed apartment. Weiss once wrote a post on her Instagram Story asking her 500,000 personal followers what they thought the company should make next. 

“Someone asked us if we could make Milky Jelly lube,” she says. “And I was like, that’s actually a really good idea.”

The key to Glossier’s brand identity has been its minimalistic approach. The skincare company offers a tiny selection of products by beauty brand standards. But now, as people ask for more, it risks becoming “everything to everyone” and losing some of what attracted its cult-like following in the first place. 

As Glossier expands, it will need to grapple with how to grow its customer base without losing the cool factor that comes with a devoted following—and I’m not sure it’s possible to have both. 

‘EQUALITY CAN’T WAIT:’ Bill and Melinda Gates published their 2020 annual letter this morning. In it, they emphasized two areas of focus in their philanthropy going forward. Bill will address climate change, while Melinda will focus on gender inequality.

In October, Melinda pledged $1 billion toward expanding women’s power and influence in the next decade. As part of the plan, she recently announced her plans to invest $50 million in creating more tech opportunities for women across three “inclusive tech hubs” in Chicago and two yet-to-be-named cities over the next five years.

“Over the past several years, we’ve invested to close data gaps, strengthen advocacy, and support women’s economic empowerment,” the letter says. “My message is simple: Equality can’t wait.”

WOMEN WRITING CHECKS: The number of venture capital firms with two or more female partners doubled last year to 14%, according to a study published by All Raise. A record number of 52 women became partners or general partners at venture firms last year. Most firms have zero women as partners, however—65% still have an all-male partner/general partner structure. Read more at Fortune.

Polina Marinova
Twitter: @polina_marinova


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- Boulder, a Portland-based digital treatment program that supports long-term recovery for opioid use, raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. Tusk Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Greycroft Partners, First Round Capital and BoxGroup.

- OptimoRoute, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based route planner tech startup, raised $6.5 million in Series A funding. Prelude Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Congruent Ventures and Michael Stoppelman.

- AllVoices, a Los Angeles-based developer of an encrypted communications platform for offices, raised $3 million in seed funding. Investors include Crosscut, Greycroft, Halogen Ventures, and Vitalize VC.


- Manna Tree Partners invested $15 million in Verde Farms, a Woburn, Mass.-based provider of organic beef for retail. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- General Atlantic made an investment in Creative Planning, an Overland Park, Kansas-based wealth management firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- One Rock Capital Partners acquired Innophos Holdings, Inc, a Cranbury, N.J.-based international producer of essential ingredients. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- All Star Auto Lights, a portfolio company of Atlantic Street Capital, acquired Headlights 101, a provider of refurbished headlights to the collision repair industry, automotive dealers, and consumers. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Probo Medical, which is backed by Varsity Healthcare Partners, acquired Elite Medical Technologies, a wholesale provider of medical imaging equipment, and Future Medical Equipment, Ltd, a U.K.-based company that specializes in the de-installation, purchasing and sales of pre-owned medical equipment. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Align Capital Partners acquired METCO Environmental, a Lewisville, Texas-based provider of source emissions (or stack) testing services, from TestAmerica, a subsidiary of Eurofins Scientific.


- Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (NYSE: FNF) will acquire FGL Holdings (NYSE: FG) for approximately $2.7 billion.


- The AZEK Company, a Chicago-based maker of outdoor living products for residential and commercial buildings also known as CPG Newco, filed for an $100 million IPO. The company posted revenue of $794.2 million and loss of $19.3 million in the year ending in September. Ares Management and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan back the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “AZEK.” Read more.

- OneWater Marine, a Buford, Ga.-based recreational boat retailer, raised $55 million in an offering 4.6 million shares priced at $12, the low end of its $12 to $14 range. The firm posted revenue of $603 million in the year ending Sept. 2018 and income of $29.3 million. LMI Holdings, and Goldman Sachs back the firm. It previously planned to list on the Nasdaq under “ONEW.” Read more.


- Kian Capital Partners sold Empire Group, a wholesale distributor and manufacturer representative of foodservice equipment, to PNC Riverarch Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Upland Software acquired Localytics, a Boston-based mobile engagement platform, for $67.7 million. Localytics had raised approximately $69.8 million in venture funding from investors including Sapphire Ventures, Foundation Capital, and Polaris Partners.

- Prytek Group acquired a controlling stake in Global Fintech Solutions, a Luxembourg-based fintech integrator, from Da Vinci Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- Index Ventures promoted Nina Achadjian to partner.

- Balderton Capital hired Rana Yared and David Thévenon as general partners.