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India’s first woman-led unicorn to go public mints its richest self-made female billionaire

November 11, 2021, 2:38 PM UTC
INDIA-BILLIONAIRE-STOCK-IPO-COSMETICS
Falguni Nayar, CEO of Nykaa, speaks at the company’s IPO listing ceremony at the National Stock Exchange in Mumbai on Nov. 10, 2021.
PUNIT PARANJPE—AFP/Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Mary Barra says GM is undervalued, activists press world leaders on women’s rights and climate change at COP26, and Nykaa’s market debut anoints a female billionaire. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

– In the spotlight. Women in India used to get their makeup and hair care products from small mom-and-pop shops. The stores had few selections, and it was all but impossible for women to test the products before buying them.

That was before Falguni Nayar came along.

The 58-year-old former investment banker founded FSN E-Commerce Ventures Ltd, which runs the beauty retailer Nykaa, in 2012 after recognizing there was an enormous market for luxury beauty products in India, especially when sold alongside how-to videos and testimonials. Since its launch, Nykaa has become India’s top beauty retailer and opened 80 physical stores to complement its e-commerce platform. Nykaa sells products from over 2,500 brands—exfoliators, lipsticks, kohl eyeliner, nail polish—that are tailored for Indian skin and local weather, Bloomberg reports.

On Wednesday, Nykaa’s parent company became the first woman-led unicorn in India to go public. Its Mumbai IPO raised 53.5 billion rupees ($720 million) and saw shares surge 96% on their first day of trading, valuing the company at nearly $14 billion. The listing made Nayar, who owns half the company, the richest self-made female billionaire in the country with a net worth of nearly $7 billion.

In her past career as an investment banker, Nayar helped entrepreneurs go public. Now she’s done it herself. “Women need to allow the spotlight of their lives to be on themselves,” she said after the Wednesday debut. “I hope more women like me dare to dream for themselves.”

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@clairezillman

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

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Know your value. As investors flock to electric vehicle companies like Rivian and Tesla, GM CEO Mary Barra argued at the New York Times' DealBook Online Summit on Wednesday that her company is "so undervalued." She's also convinced that GM can still catch EV-market leader Tesla. Fortune

- Standing out. For a new Fortune package about leadership, Maria Aspan spoke with Instacart CEO and ex-Facebook exec Fidji Simo. The CEO says she's tried both blending in in Silicon Valley and standing out, and she's settled on leaning into her outsider status as a young, female CEO from France who prefers high heels to hoodies. Fortune

- Gender and climate. Throughout COP26, activists have pressed world leaders on the connection between women's rights and climate change. "The world as designed by men has destroyed many things," one Bolivian activist told delegates. Indigenous activists held a rally for missing and murdered women and girls, explaining that "femicide is directly linked to the ecocide." 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Twitter hired Tess Rinearson as crypto engineering lead. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Salty cravings. Hershey, which ranks No. 370 on the Fortune 500 and is led by CEO Michele Buck, is getting into pretzels. The candymaker is spending $1.2 billion to acquire Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels and the manufacturer Pretzels Inc. It's part of a move into salty snacks; the company already makes Pirate's Booty and SkinnyPop popcorn. WSJ

- Survey says. In an op-ed for Fortune, former Mars Inc. chairman Victoria Mars and Christine Svarer of Business for Social Responsibility share what they learned from surveying thousands of women worldwide on what's holding them back at work. They heard some familiar themes, from calls to end gender discrimination to asks for greater support as parents. And, the duo writes, that's the story—that we still haven't fixed these long-known problems. Fortune

- Call to action. Women's rights activists in Greece are pushing to end femicide and violence against women in the country after 11 women were killed in murders considered femicides over the past year. Reported domestic violence in Greece has risen, with reports three times greater in 2020 than in 2010. Guardian

ON MY RADAR

Montana soldier becomes first woman to complete U.S. Army sniper course Axios

She wants to fix one of Louisiana’s deadliest jails. She needs to beat the sheriff first Politico

EU court blesses Vestager's €2.4 billion Google shopping fine Protocol

PARTING WORDS

"Don’t accept that CMO is your ceiling. Raise your hand, ask for the next thing, and say, ‘Why not me?'"

-Kristin Lemkau, former JPMorgan Chase CMO and current CEO of JPMorgan Wealth Management, on how more marketing execs can make it to CEO roles

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