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In the eyewear business, the newest big player may only have 1 percent of the four-eyed market share, but if the pre-IPO investors are right, they could be in for a big post-IPO payday.
Warby Parker, the ecommerce-first, and affordable, eyewear retailer, is making headlines after its most recent round of funding raised $75 million at a valuation of $1.75 billion. For eyewear with nerdiness as the defining characteristic, the incredibly popular brand is expected to continue growing until its IPO, at least so long as Millennials keep buying those oversized frames. Though pundits seem to disagree about whether the IPO is around the corner or a far off bend.
Although the spectacular speculative specs startup seems to be generating more money than it knows what to do with, teams of lawyers may soon have a solution.
Warby Parker is facing a rather big lawsuit from start-up Opternative, which created an online vision test that Warby Parker considered purchasing, but ultimately decided to just rip off (allegedly, though the allegations are clearly very damning).
During the negotiations, Warby Parker signed an NDA, and provided multiple assurances that it was not developing competing technology, and was privy to all sorts of inside information from Opternative. After negotiations broke down, Warby Parker unapologetically unveiled their own tech that basically does the exact same thing as Opternative.
Complicating matters, the FDA recently sent Opternative a strong warning letter that their tech violated FDA regulations as an unapproved medical testing device. Curiously, it is currently unknown if Warby Parker has received a similar notice.
Seeing the Future
The Series E round for Warby Parker was spearheaded by T. Rowe Price. Notably, the billion dollar company has come quite a long way since its $2 million valuation back in 2011, and investors clearly see promise in the future.