Rent the Runway calls on women in workplaces in its IPO

Most companies want to be in a position of strength when going public. 

But Rent the Runway filed for its IPO at a time when the company has been hard hit by the pandemic. Late Monday, the company that lends designer fashion to women revealed that revenue in the year ending Jan. 2021 dropped 38.6% to $157.5 million compared to the same period the year earlier. That comes after the company that had its valuation cut from $1 billion to about $750 million last fall. Few, after all, were trying to look their best while stuck at home.

Here’s some quick points of what you should know about the business:

  • The company is not profitable, and has not shown a profit in its history. In the year ending Jan. 2021, losses grew to $171.1 million, up about 11% from its pre-pandemic era.
  • Consumers shifted to casualwear in the pandemic. And it seems Rent the Runway, which sells consumers on renting pieces that are often unaffordable, also got some activity there? The company says it was “encouraged by new use cases, including at-home casual wear, loungewear, knits and activewear, which went from being 25% of items at home in May 2019 to 46% in May 2020.” Still, don’t expect this to be the main driver for the company because…
  • That wasn’t enough to boost the company to pre-pandemic levels. Yes, Rent the Runway is showing some signs of a comeback if you completely remove 2020 out of calculations. But it is slow. The company in the quarter ending July 2021 posted revenue of $46.7 million—up from the same month during the heat of the pandemic, but still down by about 26% since the same month in 2019. Still, this growth in its more recent quarter is perhaps why the company felt some confidence over going public now.
  • Similarly, its subscriber count is again, up from the heat of the pandemic, but significantly down from its pre-pandemic days. While not apples to apples, the company had 133,572 active subscribers by the end of Jan. 2020. That figure was about 97,614 as of July 2021.
  • The demand for women to wear a wide-ranging wardrobe is real. But the company is also going public at a time when what a return to physical work may look like, remains unclear. Will casual wear be more the norm? Moreover, getting women meanwhile back to work has been especially difficult. Still, among the trends that it sees working in its favor, the company points to an “increasingly female workforce.” In the short-tem however, pandemic trends are certainly pressing on its business.

THE SCHRODINGER’S CAT THAT IS OZY: Like apparently most, I’d never seen OZY Media CEO Carlos Watson in action on video until this week as his company broke out in scandal. A part of me was expecting some version of Leonardo DiCaprio’s bombastic, slightly unhinged scam artist character from the Wolf of Wall Street. But for a man leading a company facing allegations of buying website traffic and committing fraud, Watson presents himself decidedly as something that is not that. He speaks calmly, with a measured pace. Gone is the bright smile from two years ago when he announced OZY’s new funding. Instead, his eyebrows are furrowed in concern—He appears contrite. It’s convincing. It seems reliable. He is, as many accounts state, charismatic.

Until you listen really to the content of what he’s saying. On the Today show Monday, Watson downplays his responsibility, responding to questions about inflating numbers by saying he took bad advice from “crisis communications folks” and that there were things the company did that were “not well” around data.

He also said the company was apparently… coming back? “This is our Lazarus moment, if you will.” This all comes after the board of directors said the business would shut down.

Now the question is, is OZY dead? Or is it not?

IN PERSON: I’ll be moderating a panel at CBInsights’ Future of Fintech conference in New York City Tuesday, hosting a discussion between investors Merritt Hummer of Bain Capital Ventures, Chritina Bechold Russ of Truist Ventures, and Alexa von Tobel of Inspired Capital on, you guessed it, fintech. Perhaps I’ll see you there :).

Lucinda Shen

Jessica Mathews compiled the IPO and SPAC sections of this newsletter.


- Orca Security, an Israeli security company startup, raised $550 million in extended Series C funding. The deal values the business at $1.8 billion. Temasek led the round and was joined by SAIC and Splunk Ventures

- Do Good Foods, a Bedminister, New Jersey-based food-waste elimination startup, raised $169 million from Nuveen.

- Sky Mavis, a Vietnam-based company behind blockchain game, Axie Infinity, raised $152 million in Series B funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round and was joined by investors including Accel and Paradigm.

- Licious, an India-based startup selling meat and seafood online, raised $52 million, becoming a unicorn. IIFL led the round.

- Anyfin, a Swedish loan refinancing company, raised $52 million. FinTech Collective led the round and was joined by investors including Accel, EQT Ventures, Northzone, and Global Founders Capital.

- Buk, a Chilean human resources software company, raised $50 million in Series A funding valuing it at $417 million. Greenoaks led the round and was joined by investors including Softbank.

- Stable, a Chicago-based insurtech focused on commodity prices, raised $46.5 million in Series A funding. Greycroft led the round and was joined by investors including Notion Capital, Anthemis, Continental Grain, Syngenta, and Ascot.

- Duality, a startup focused on secure data collaboration, raised $30 million in Series B funding. LG Technology Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Euclidean Capital and NAventures.

- Commonstock, a San Francisco-based social investing platform, raised $25 million in Series A funding. Coatue led the round and was joined by investors including QED, Floodgate, Upside Ventures, Resolute Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Philippe Laffont, Bill Ackman, and Ari Emanuel.

- Studs, a New York City-based ear piercing startup, raised $20 million in Series B funding. Spark Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Thrive Capital, First Round Capital, and Lerer Hippeau. 

- GraphWear, a San Francisco-based company developing needle-free glucose-monitoring, raised $20.5 million in Series B funding. Mayfield led the round and was joined by investors including MissionBio Capital, Builders VC, and VSC Ventures.

- Copia Automation, a New York City-based automation software company for industrial applications, raised $14.2 million. Lux Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Construct Capital and Ironspring Ventures. 

- Elevate, a Denver-based employee benefits startup, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Greycroft and Norwest led the round.

- Made of Air, a Berlin-based climate tech startup, raised €5 million (~$5.8 million) in seed funding. TD Veen led the round.

- Canal, a San Francisco-based e-commerce startup, raised $4.5 million in seed funding. Andreessen Horowitz and Forerunner Ventures led the round.

- Integry, a San Francisco-based integration company, raised $3 million in seed funding. Bonfire Ventures and Operative Collective led the round.

- Hopscotch, a New York City-based b2b payments startup, raised $3.6 million in seed funding. Noemis Ventures and Stellation Capital led the round and were joined by investors including Valar Ventures, Valor Equity Partners, 3KVC, Red & Blue Ventures, NfX, Brightlane Ventures, Switch VC, and The MBA Fund.

- Ongo, a San Francisco-based startup focused on health & wellness creators, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Investors include Day One Ventures, The House Fund, Emmett Shear (Founder, Twitch), Drew Houston (Founder, Dropbox), Albert Lee (Founder, MyFitnessPal), Kyle Vogt (Founder, Twitch & Cruise), John Oringer (Founder, Shutterstock), and Kevin Hartz (Founder, Eventbrite).

- PixieBrix, a New York City-based no-code tool for modifying website interfaces, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. New Enterprise Associates led the round.

- ModernLoop, a San Francisco-based recruiting operations software maker, raised $3.3 million in seed funding led by Accel. 


- ArchiMed acquired Xpress Biologics, a European provider of plasmid DNA. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Brentwood Associates invested in Service Management Group, a  Kansas City, Mo.-based provider of customer, patient and employee experience software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Custom Glass Solutions, backed by Stellex Capital Management, acquired Cameron Glass, a Broken Arrow, Ok.-based fabricator of tempered glass. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Parthenon Capital recapitalized Smart Data Solutions, a provider of data management, claim routing and workflow solutions to health plans. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- PAI Partners acquired European Camping Group, a European outdoor accommodation company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Providence Equity Partners invested in Tenstreet, a Tulsa, Ok.-based provider of driver recruiting software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Calpine Containers, a Rainier Partners portfolio company, acquired JS Ag Packaging, a Bakersfield, Calif.-based packaging distribution, labeling, and design services business. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Vector Capital invested in McGraw Hill Education, the educational textbooks business, alongside Platinum Equity. Platinum acquired McGraw for $4.5 billion earlier this year. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- ChrysCapital acquired ResultsCX, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based customer support, acquisition, and enrollment, company, from One Equity Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- DIF Capital Partners agreed to acquire Bernhard, a Metairie, La.-based energy facilitating upgrading and retrofitting business, from Bernhard Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) will acquire Veoneer (NYSE: VNE), a Swedish automotive tech company, for about $4.5 billion, beating out Magna International.

- Kitchen United, backed by GV and RXR Realty, acquired Zuul, a New York City- based ghost kitchen company. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Zuul investors have included Afore Capital and Silvertech Ventures.

- Chainalysis acquired Excygent, a firm that helps government agencies with cybercrime investigations. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- GlobalFoundries, a Malta, N.Y.-based semiconductor manufacturer, filed for an IPO. The company reported $4.9 billion in net revenue in 2020 and a $1.4 billion net loss. Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Co. owns the firm.

- Arhaus, a Boston Heights, Oh.-based home furnishing company, filed for an IPO. The company reported $507 million in net revenue in 2020 and net and comprehensive income of $18 million. Freeman Spogli & Co. backs the firm.

- Udemy, a San Francisco-based education platform, filed for an IPO. The company posted $430 million in revenue in 2020 and a net loss of $78 million. Insight Venture Partners, Prosus, Norwest Venture Partners, and Stripes Group back the firm.

- Solo Brands, a Southlake, Texas-based outdoor gear and apparel company, filed for an IPO. The company posted $133 million in net sales in 2020 and a net loss of $24 million. Summit Partners backs the firm.

- AEON Biopharma, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, plans to raise $80 million in an offering of 5 million shares priced between $14 and $16 per share. The company reported $2.5 million in revenue in 2020 and a loss of $32.9 million. Medytox and Strathspey Crown back the firm.


- G Squared, a Chicago-based growth-stage venture capital firm, raised $1.2 billion for G Squared V.

- Eight Roads, a European investor, launched its fourth fund with $450 million.

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