Sara Blakely celebrates Spanx’s Blackstone deal by giving all employees first class plane tickets and $10,000

October 26, 2021, 12:17 PM UTC
Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx Inc., speaks during a panel discussion at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 13, 2018.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Frances Haugen testifies in the U.K., Japan’s Princess Mako marries her fiancé, and Sara Blakely celebrates her Spanx sale. Have a great Tuesday.

– An ‘and you get a car!’ moment. When Sara Blakely sold a majority stake in Spanx to Blackstone last week, the deal valued the shapewear company at $1.2 billion and made the founder a billionaire once more. (Her net worth had reportedly dipped into the nine digits in 2020.)

“People have asked me for 20 years, ‘When will you sell Spanx?’ And for 20 years I would say…‘I’ll just know.’ Well that day is today,” she said in an Instagram post on Wednesday. Blakely, who will retain an undisclosed stake in Spanx and become its executive chair, famously bootstrapped the shapewear company for $5,000, conceiving of its trademark compression shorts after cutting the feet off a pair of control-top pantyhose. Since founding the company in 2000, she’d declined outside investment until last week’s Blackstone deal.

In announcing the sale, Blakely thanked the all-female team she’d worked with at Blackstone, and days later, she thanked Spanx employees, most of whom appear to be women, with a rather generous gift: two first-class tickets to any destination in the world and $10,000 in cash.

Blakely posted a video of her announcing the perks on Instagram. There are screams. There are tears. There are gasps of disbelief. One woman’s going to Bora Bora on her honeymoon. Another’s headed to a safari in South Africa. It all makes for a rather heartwarming video that recalls Oprah Winfrey’s “and you get a car!” moment. (That’s fitting, since Winfrey catapulted Spanx into the mainstream when she named the undergarment one of her ‘Favorite Things’ in 2000.)

But splashy corporate perks aside, it’s clear Blakely sees the Blackstone deal as an occasion to pay it forward, and to draw attention to the inequity that plagues female founders.

“This marks a moment for female entrepreneurs,” she says in her Instagram video. “There aren’t enough women being funded out there; there aren’t enough women getting the support. Fifty percent of entrepreneurs are women and only 2.3% of all VC funding goes to women.”

“This is a very big moment for each and every one of you,” said Blakely, who will become Spanx’s executive chair, “and I want to toast the women that came before me and all of the women in the world who have not had this opportunity.”

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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