Stitch Fix: First Tech IPO This Year Led by Woman

Stitch Fix the retail startup became the most recent Internet startup to go public on Friday raising over $120 million to help drive its growth.

However, the initial public offering marked another milestone: It was the first tech company led by a female to go public in over a year.

In 2011, Stitch Fix was founded in San Francisco by Katrina Lake, while she attended Harvard Business School. Lake has spent the last six years growing the clothing subscription data drive company to include maternity wear, plus sizes and even options for men.

The company combines algorithms and personal stylists to choose outfits based upon preferences of customers and their purchase history, and mails clothing and accessories in boxes to clients for a flat $20, with that fee able to be applied toward purchasing any of the items.

In a SEC filing, the company said it believes it’s the only company to successfully combine rich client data and detailed merchandise data to give a personalized shopping experience to consumers.

However, despite high hopes of investors, the stock started shaky. Stitch Fix debuted Friday November 17 on Nasdaq with a share price starting at $15 across 8 million shares.

Earlier in the week, the company had announced it would be selling 10 million shares for between $18 and $20, but that was scaled back before Friday to $15 and 8 million.

Momentarily shares rose as high as $18.53, before they closed at $15.15 slightly higher than they started.

However, despite the disappointing performance of the stock, other women in technology and retail lauded the efforts of the company.

Only 3% of companies in the U.S. that went public between 1996 and 2013 had women at the helm, according to data taken from online resources.

That figure, say analysts, is lower in a tech industry that is male dominated. The last tech firm led by a female to go public was Los Angeles based BlackLine, an accounting software business that debuted in October of 2016 on the Nasdaq.

Stitch Fix experienced rapid growth thanks in a big way to venture capital funding of $44 million. The company has over 2 million clients and in 2016 saw revenue reach $1 billion, an increase of 34% from 2015. The company carries over 1,000 brands including Theory, Toms, and Kate Spade.

However, analysts say that growth is beginning to slow and attracting additional customers is becoming more difficult, as well as costly, for the business. The company which in 2015 as well as 2016 was profitable posted a $594,000 loss for its recent fiscal year due to rising costs.

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