What a $20 Million Investment From Alibaba’s Founders Could Mean for Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway has reportedly landed a $20 million investment from Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai — a move that could fuel the company’s international expansion and pave the way for the launch of more brick-and-mortar stores. An IPO could be another growth avenue for the firm.

According to a filing obtained by Recode, the women’s fashion rental platform secured the new funding through asset management firm Blue Pool Capital, which invests the wealth of both Ma and Tsai. Research entity Lagniappe Labs uncovered the filing and valued Rent the Runway at just under $800 million (with the additional funds).

The company was previously valued at $750 million following the $60 million Series E investment led by mutual fund corporation Fidelity in late 2016. The Blue Pool Capital investment will operate under the same terms as the Series E deal and open up possibilities for the company should it choose to go public, which it teased with the departure of co-founder Jennifer Fleiss. (CEO and co-founder Jennifer Hyman now singlehandedly leads the company.)

Founded in 2009, Rent the Runway began as an e-commerce service for women to rent designer-label dresses for special occasions at a fraction of the original price. It has since expanded into brick-and-mortar outposts in New York City and Los Angeles — among other locations in the country — to offer clothing, jewelry, handbags and more accessories for everyday wear or events through individual lease or a subscription model.

“The access we provided to women across the U.S. to designer fashion really started a movement [and] changed her relationship with her closet,” COO Maureen Sullivan said during a presentation at WWD’s Retail 20/20 Forum in New York last year.

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