(Photo by Flickr user Alexis Lamster, used under a Creative Commons license)
Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price led a $75 million Series E for Warby Parker in a funding round that is bringing chatter about an IPO for the eyewear company.
— Jason Del Rey (@DelRey) March 14, 2018
The latest round brings with it a valuation of $1.75 billion, according to Recode, which also reported that the company is expecting to be profitable this year. With the funding, the company also announced that Harvard Business School professor Youngme Moon is joining its board.
T. Rowe Price is an existing investor in New York–based Warby Parker, having led the company’s 2015 funding round through its New Horizons Fund, managed by Henry Ellenbogen. The mutual fund has garnered big returns in part by putting a small amount of investment aside for privately-held, early-stage companies. Twitter and Lutherville-based Bill Me Later are also among the companies Ellenbogen backed early on.
For its part, Warby Parker was founded in 2010 with a focus on selling on-trend-yet-affordable glasses through ecommerce, with the option to try them on at home. Among the four cofounders who started the company while students at the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia was Johns Hopkins alum Jeffrey Raider.
The previous round was used to expand the company’s physical stores, and it opened a Baltimore location in Harbor East in 2016. The company is also providing glasses for city schools students as part of Vision for Baltimore. With the funding, the company is looking to expand several new initiatives, including its app that allows customers to check their prescription without an eye doctor visit. More retail locations are also planned.-30-
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