The e-commerce eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker has raised $100 million to expand physical store locations from 12 to 20 by year’s end and to work on technology that will allow customers to conduct eye exams on their mobile phones.
Global investment management firm T. Rowe Price led the round, along with participation from Wellington Management and from previous investors Tiger Global Management and General Catalyst. This puts the total amount of funding raised at $215.5 million, according to CrunchBase. This also more than doubles Warby Parker’s valuation to $1.2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The new valuation adds Warby Parker to the growing unicorn category of private, venture-backed companies, and also makes them one of the highest-valued U.S. online retail companies, second only to sports retail site Fanatics, valued at $3.3 billion.
Warby Parker started out with an online distribution model that allowed customers to order and try on several pairs of brand-name glasses that retailed for under $100 before buying. The startup was able to offer the glasses at a discount by cutting out third parties and sending directly to consumers. Opening brick-and-mortar stores in nine U.S. cities was just a way to test selling the product in 2013, but now employs half the company.
We’ve reached out to Warby Parker for comment and will update this post as soon as we hear back.
Update from Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa:
“Over the past five years we’ve experienced significant growth. We’ve expanded our team to nearly 500 employees, invested in technology to provide an exceptional customer experience online and off, and increased our retail footprint across the country. This round of funding will allow us to continue to scale the business while focusing on product and technology innovation. We’re excited about what’s ahead.”