New York-based women’s clothing rental firm Rent the Runway has secured a $20-million investment from Blue Pool Capital, the investment firm of Alibaba founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, according to a Recode report.
Established in 2009, Rent the Runway is an online service that provides designer dresses and accessories for rent. It was started by Harvard Business School students Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss.
The report said the latest investment from Blue Pool Capital valued Rent the Runway at about $800 million. Hyman, the co-founder and CEO of the company, was quoted as saying that Rent the Runway was not planning on raising additional funding.
However, she considered the investment from Ma and Tsai as a “rare opportunity to involve them in the business”.
The latest investment from Alibaba’s founders followed a $60-million Series E investment led by Fidelity in late 2016. The Blue Pool investment followed the same terms as the Series E deal.
Initially a pure e-commerce company, Rent the Runway later opened brick-and-mortar retail locations in New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Aside from renting designer dresses, Rent the Runway also rents accessories, including jewellery and handbags, and sells essentials, including lingerie, tights, shapewear, and cosmetics.
Following its investment in Rent the Runway, Blue Pool gets a board observer seat in the New York firm.
Blue Pool was once a hedge-fund manager with more than $1 billion of assets. It now makes both public and private-equity investments exclusively for its existing clients, either directly or through allocations to outside funds.