No Bubble At All: Jessica Alba's Diaper-Delivery Startup Is Valued At $1 Billion, Prepares For IPO
While today even the pundits are aghast at the latest Snapchat valuation round, which according to the WSJ has Kleiner Perkins inject a laughable $20 million into the private-parts photography service, boosting its valuation to a whopping $10 billion in a clear windowdressing mark-up round, up from $800 million a year ago, even as the actual equity invested into the company is a paltry $160 million or under 2% of said valuation, the true indicator of just how bubbly the second coming of the dot com era has become comes courtesy of none other than Jessica Alba's, yes the actress, own startup: a company launched in 2012 and which makes "non-toxic" diapers (as opposed to toxic diapers?), called the Honest Co., has raised $70 million at a valuation just shy of $1 billion in preparation for an IPO.
Ridiculous? Well of course, but at least unlike Snapchat which still has zero revenue, there actually are idiots who will pay a premium to subscribe to hemp diapers, and the company does in fact have some revenue: "since launching in 2012 with its non-toxic diapers and other natural baby products, the California-based startup has grown quickly by blending its environmentally sensitive products with a social mission. Annual revenue is tracking to hit north of $150 million in 2014, or three times the revenue of 2013, according to Mr. Lee. Roughly 80% of Honest revenue is from customers who subscribe to a monthly service delivering diapers and other consumable products on a recurring basis."
It appears the customers of Honest Co are so stupid, or just so lazy, they prefer to pay an exorbitant premium for a commodity product just so they have a monthly diaper delivery on their front step. In other words, a service for the 0.001%, which will continue to generate revenue as long as Fed's uber ZIRP bubble continues and allows such other ridiculous business models as Tesla to not only survive but prosper.
Some more on how Jessica Alba is about to be a whole lot richer:
Along with the healthy lifestyle and cleaning products, which will soon include formula for babies and beauty products for moms, the startup is selling a feel-good mission. Like Toms Shoes Inc., Warby Parker Inc., Etsy Inc. and other e-commerce companies that use business to benefit social causes, Honest donates product and revenue. The company established programs like diaper and crib donations as part of its business model, earning it a B Corp certification from nonprofit group B Lab.
“Nowadays it’s about corporate responsibility. The consumer today demands this of companies and we are doing our part to help in any way we can,” Mr. Lee said.
Although the company has expanded its retail distributors during the past year from Whole Foods and Costco to include Target, Buy Buy Baby and Nordstrom, just 20% of sales occur offline.
Mr. Lee said that mix is a good balance for the company for now and the company has intentionally held back on marketing efforts because it is now at capacity fulfilling orders. The Series C funding round will be used to bankroll growth both in the U.S. and abroad.
In other words, this is just like a "supply-constrained" Tesla, only for diapers.
“We believe being a public company is the best path for us going forward and it’s good to get that validation early on,” Honest Chief Executive and Co-founder Brian Lee said, noting that public-markets investor Wellington Management Company led the Series C round. “I can’t say when that will be, but we are definitely starting to think and act like a public company.”
The existing investors are the who's who of venture capitalist for whom the initial round equity checks is also known as pocket money:
Along with Wellington Management Company, a handful of unnamed public financial institutions also participated in the round, as did all existing venture investors, a roster that includes Institutional Venture Partners, Iconiq Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and General Catalyst Partners.
The Honest Co., which employs 275, previously raised $52 million. Through an Honest spokesman, Wellington declined to comment.
“Having them as shareholders will help the team understand the metrics, traction and other things public-market investors are going to look for as they enter the market. Having them inside the tent instead of outside the tent makes that dialogue much more open.”
And, of course, the exit event is quite clear: "General Catalyst Partner and Honest board member Neil Sequeira said working with Wellington to lead the round was logical because the goal is an IPO."
Clearly, to IPO, the diaper delivery company will need an even greater upside story. Enter, what else, China.
In preparation for an IPO, Jessica Alba’s The Honest Co., a maker of eco-friendly baby products, has raised $70 million at a valuation just shy of $1 billion and is beginning partnership talks to expand to China, Dow Jones VentureWire has learned.
Jeremy Liew, a partner with early investor Lightspeed Venture Partners, said Ms. Alba, the actress-turned-entrepreneur who co-founded the company in 2011, has leveraged her star power for the benefit of the startup.
“She is an international star. We’re starting to see a lot of demand from her fans around the world,” he said. “This idea for non-toxic, chemical free products has resonated around the world in developed and developing countries.”
To summarize: an "sexy movie star", a whole lot of VCs seeking to cash out to get-rich-quick morons who have forgotten all about the sad ending of the first dot com bubble, a company that has a "unique product", a ridiculous, laughable, bizarre "business model", even if ultimately it is used to simply contain shit pardon our French, and the piece de resistance, "China."
What else is there to say. We expect the stock to soar over 100% on the day of its IPO, but for now here are some gratuitous shots of Jessica Alba:
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