Rent the Runway gets a $20m investment from Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Joe Tsai

Rent the Runway cozies up to an unlikely financial bedfellow: Alibaba’s Jack Ma. His $20M investment ups the business value to $800M.

March 12, 2018

The women’s clothing rental startup locked in a sweet $20m from Jack Ma and Joe Tsai’s multi-billion dollar investment fund, Blue Pool Capital, on Friday — a deal that values the company just south of $800m.

“I’ll take one runway with my best friend Joe Tsai please” — Jack Ma

Founded in 2009, Rent the Runway started out as a service that loaned designer dresses to women for special events at a fraction of the retail price. 

Now, the company’s $139-a-month clothing rental subscription, touted as “Netflix for dresses,” brings in well over $100m in revenue per year.

Does that mean Alibaba wants to buy?

According to Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman, not necessarily. She believes having Jack and Joe on board allows RTR to keep their options open. “It’s good for us whether we IPO, or we sell the business, or we stay private,” she said.

According to Rent the Runway, Blue Pool Capital hasn’t decided which executive will take a board observer role, but some speculate it will be Tsai.

That said, if Ma’s Michael-Jackson inspired outfit at Alibaba’s last company party is any indication, he’s got an eye for fashion himself…

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