Zirra Spotlight on Warby Parker Retail

Founded in 2010, Warby Parker is headquartered in NYC with an additional new office in Nashville, Tennessee. The company manufactures and retails eyeglasses, sunglasses, and prescription eyewear. The company also gives eye exams in the 11 stores located in 6 states (Illinois, New York, Michigan, Missouri, Massachusetts, and Maryland) and the District of Columbia. In 2015, Fast Company named Warby Parker the #1 Most Innovative Company. The company is also a certified B Corporation, which means that they are held to the highest standards of social and environmental performance.

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Zirra Rated Warby Parker


Business & Marketing Strategy
Over the past two years, the portion of employees dedicated to sales in the total company has decreased by 2%, the portion of employees working in marketing has decreased by 1%, the portion of employees working in media & communications has decreased by 2%, while there has been no change in the number of employees dedicated to BD. The highest ranked employee working in Marketing & BD is possible Lori Krauss, who is VP Brand Management. There is no CMO, VP Marketing, or VP BD. Lori has over 20 years of marketing experienced, and has previously served as a CMO, VP Marketing and Marketing Director. She has worked at firms such as The Donna Karan Company, AIX Armani Exchange, Vera Wang, and Nike, demonstrating that she has extensive experience in working in marketing in the fashion/apparel space. The company has built its reputation on “buy one give one,” that for every pair of glasses purchased, the company will give a pair to someone in need. This strategy has been hugely popular, and could be a large contributor to their success.
Inside Scoops
Warby Parker has a succeeded in assembling an experienced workforce. Around 34% of employees have 6-10 years of work experience, 31% have 3-5 years of work experience, and 18% have over 10 years of work experience. Additionally, 34 employees previously worked at Apple. The company seems to be focusing on their sales efforts, as 41% of employees work in sales or support. There has been a 44% increase in the total number of employees since December 2014, with the average employee staying with the company for an average of 1.9 years. Unrelated to the company’s workforce DNA, in December 2016, a Wall Street Journal article described how Warby Parker used to advertise on the site Breitbart, which is commonly recognized as having racist and anti-semitic views. A spokesperson from the company said that Warby Parker is now actively blocking its ads from appearing on Breitbart. The eyewear company said its ads appeared on the site via a third-party advertising company it works with.
Competitive Position
The market in which Warby Parker is operating is quite crowded. Most similar companies either much smaller, or as in the case of Essilor and Luxottica, are much bigger. Luxottica (NYSE:LUX) has over 13.6K employees and went public in 1990, the company has made 3 acquisitions. Essilor (EPA:EI) has acquired two companies in the space recently – MyOptiqueGroup in August 2016 and Coastal in 2014. MyOptiqueGroup seems to be still operating as separate entity and is the most similar in size to Warby Parker. MyOptiqueGroup was founded in 2004 and is headquartered in London. The company has 151 employees and had raised $102.19M before being acquired by Essilor in August 2016. Before being acquired, MyOptiqueGroup had acquired 4Care, Eyewearbrands, and Netzopiker in 2015. Other indirect competitors include Zenni Optical, GlassesUSA, and BonLook. Zenni Optical was founded in 2003 and is based in Novato, California. The company has 46 employees and has not disclosed any funding. GlassesUSA was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in NYC. The company has raised $12.5M and has 50 employees. BonLook was founded in 2011 and is based in Montreal, Canada. The company has raised an undisclosed amount of funding and has 31 employees.
Founder & Executive Profiles
The founding team of Warby Parker seems to be somewhat inexperienced, as no members of the founding team have previously held executive leadership roles before. It seems that Jeffrey Raider and Dave Gilboa might know each other from working at Bain and Company, and that the three co-founders attended The Wharton School at the same time (2008-2010). This is possible where they met and formed the plans to start Warby Parker. Co-founder Jeffrey Raider started serving as the co-founder and co-CEO of Harry’s in 2012 and he still holds this position. Prior to starting Warby Parker, he served as a Senior Associate at Charlesbank Capital Partners, and was an Associate Consultant at Bain and Company (2004-2006). He holds an MBA from Univ. Pennsylvania (2008-2010) and a BA/MA in International Studies from The Johns Hopkins University. Co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa was previously a BD and Strategy Intern at Crescendo Bioscience and was a Special Assistant to the CEO at The TriZetto Group. He also served as an Associate at Allen & Company, a Market Strategy Associate at Genomic Health, and as a Senior Associate Consultant at Bain and Company (2003-2006). He holds a BS in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Univ. Pennsylvania (2008-2010). Co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal has an MBA from Univ. Pennsylvania (2008-2010) and previously worked as a Summer Associate at McKinsey & Company.
HR Situation & Reviews
On Glassdoor, Warby Parker has an average rating of 4.0/5.0 based on 129 reviews. 79% of employees would recommend working at the company to a friend, and 94% approved of the CEOs. In general, employee reviews of the company are quite positive. Positive reviews point to a fun company culture, fantastic management, and great coworkers. Negative reviews point to the growing pains of a startup, low wages, demanding work, and “fluctuating hours.” Warby Parker currently has 20 open positions. There are 3 in Customer Experience, 5 in Engineering and Technology, 4 in Finance, Legal, and Talent (HR), 2 in Marketing, Brand Management, and Brand Design, 4 in Operations and Supply Chain, 1 in Product management and E-commerce, 1 in Retail, and 0 open positions in Social Innovation, Strategy and Consumer Insights, Merchandising and Planning, Eyewear Design and Product Development, or Analytics and Data Science.

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Assaf Gilad

An ex-journalist from Calcalist, a leading business and tech news outlet in Israel, I'm now writing about startups for Zirra.com.