Sep 29, 2021 - Economy

Warby Parker to go public via direct listing

Illustration of a stock ticker with LED lights making a glasses shape and an upward pointing arrow

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Warby Parker is set to go public Wednesday via a direct listing. It got a $40 per share reference price, which would value the eyeglasses retailer at nearly $5 billion.

Why it matters: This could be a fraught time for direct listings, as vested employees are getting jumbled guidance from D.C. on how their potential sales would be taxed. But that didn't seem to hurt yesterday's direct listing by Amplitude, the data analytics company whose first-day performance defied the Nasdaq's worst trading session since March.

Details: Warby is a direct-to-consumer pioneer that now generates more sales from its physical retail stores than it does via its digital channels. The company, a certified B Corp, plans to list on the NYSE (WRBY) and reports a $7 million net loss on $271 million in revenue for the first half of 2021.

ROI: It raised over $500 million in VC funding, most recently last summer at a $3 billion valuation, from firms like Tiger Global, T. Rowe Price, General Catalyst, D1 Capital Partners and Durable Capital Partners.

The bottom line: "We believe a direct listing is a more transparent and inclusive process for lots of fans of the brad who in a traditional IPO wouldn't have the option of getting an allocation.. It creates a fair playing field for all," Dave Gilboa, Warby Parker co-founder and CEO, told Axios. ⁠

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