Eyeglass brand Warby Parker reveals widening losses in filing to go public

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Warby Parker has either lost money or broken even for the past three years, the company revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing to go public late Tuesday. 

The popular eyeglass brand — which is known for its fashionable and cheap eyewear — has seen losses grow alongside revenue, according to financials that were publicly detailed for the first time in its SEC filing

The company’s net revenue grew from $272.9 million in 2018 to $370.5 million in 2019 and $393.7 million last year. At the same time, Warby Parker reported a net loss of $22.9 million in 2018 and $55.9 million last year. The spectacles shop broke even in 2019. 

Warby Parker has continued to bleed money this year, losing $7.3 million in the six months ending June 30, according to the filing. 

“We have a history of losses, and we may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability,” the company warned investors. “Any failure to adequately increase net revenue or manage operating costs could prevent us from achieving or sustaining profitability.” 

But Warby Parker also argued that incurring losses was important to drive growth, adding that the company now has more than 145 stores across the US and Canada, as well as a robust online sales operation. 

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Brian Ach/Getty Images

The company — which was valued at $3 billion during a funding round last year, according to the Wall Street Journal — is seeking a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange. 

The move would allow current investors like Tiger Global Management and General Catalyst sell their shares. But unlike an initial public offering, listing directly means Warby Parker will not bring in money from selling new shares. 

In the filing, Warby Parker revealed that it generates 95 percent of its revenue from selling glasses but argued that it is not simply a glasses company. 

“Warby Parker is a mission-driven, lifestyle brand that operates at the intersection of design, technology, healthcare and social enterprise,” the company said. 

Warby Parker was founded in 2010 by Dave Gilboa (left) and Neil Blumenthal (right), college buddies who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Warby Parker was founded in 2010 by Dave Gilboa (left) and Neil Blumenthal (right), college buddies who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Warby Parker first teased an initial public offering earlier this year. 

The company was founded in 2010 by Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, college buddies who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania — as well as Jeff Raider and Andy Hunt.

Warby Parker, which is still run day-to-day by co-CEOs Giboa and Blumenthal, has attracted some large investors, including the mutual fund company, T. Rowe Price.

In a 2018 New York Times interview following news of T. Rowe Price’s investment, co-founder Gilboa told the New York Times that the company would turn a full-year profit for the first time that year.

But Tuesday’s financials show that Warby Parker has so far failed to live up to his promises. 

Additional reporting by Lisa Fickenscher 

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