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Is SHEIN really worth $100 billion in today’s market?

April 4, 2022, 4:41 PM UTC

You can call it the 12-figure club. That’s how many numbers you get once your valuation supersedes the $100 billion marker. 

And that—$100 billion—is the figure SHEIN is valued at after its new funding round, per Axios, citing a source familiar with the deal (Bloomberg first reported they were raising the round this weekend). That’s a whole lot of zero’s.

There only appear to be three companies that have achieved “hectocorn” status, per Pitchbook: Bytedance, which notched a titanic $360 billion valuation in February 2021; Stripe, a $152 billion valuation following a secondary transaction last year; and SpaceX, valued at $100.3 billion as of August. 

Now it looks as if SHEIN will rank among them. The fast fashion retailer, based in Shenzhen, China, has reportedly raised approximately $1 billion in funding from investors including General Atlantic (A General Atlantic spokesperson declined to comment). That’s following a Series E round in August 2020, which valued the company at around $15 billion, per Pitchbook.

It’s a rather surprising time for a company to get so aggressive with their terms. Public tech companies have been performing poorly, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates, and venture capitalists are sending letters to founders, warning they may need to buckle up and prepare for a few tough months. And in any environment, $100 billion is still a lofty number, particularly for a company that has suffered a slew of criticism over having low-quality items and for allegedly copying designs from independent designers repeatedly. (A SHEIN spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment on the matter)

Regardless, SHEIN appears to have found some success in convincing young shoppers on Instagram or TikTok to head to their site and press the “buy” button. Last year, more people downloaded the app in the U.S. than they did In 2020, its sales tripled to $10 billion. The company partners with so-called “influencers” like Khloe Kardashian or Lil Nas X to advertise their brand. 

But will investors in SHEIN have a runway to an exit? China’s tech crackdown—which began when regulators pulled the plug on Ant Group’s big IPO plans, then banned ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing from the app store shortly after it went public—has stalled the region’s IPO pipeline. The route to going public in New York has become more challenging with both the Securities and Exchange Commission and Chinese regulators now disenchanted with the “variable interest entity” model Chinese companies had frequently deployed to go public in the U.S. 

As for SHEIN, its CEO has reportedly considered obtaining Singaporean citizenship to avoid issues with regulators (a SHEIN spokesperson previously told Fortune that its executives haven’t applied for citizenship in Singapore). Reuters reported that the company was weighing a public offering in the U.S. only a few months ago, but it has since put those plans on hold due to troublesome market volatility in recent weeks. 

A soft exit… Ron Fisher, head of SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund U.S. arm is stepping down as director and chairman later this month, per Bloomberg. He reportedly will continue on as a senior advisor to SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. Fisher had been slowly stepping away from his role at the company since last year, when he left SoftBank’s board.

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
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Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.


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