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Warby Parker Rises in First Day of Trading After Direct Listing

Warby Parker's IPO had a direct listing reference price of $40, valuing the company at $4.98 billion.

Eyewear retailer Warby Parker  (WRBY) - Get Warby Parker Report rose 34% to $54.65 in recent trading from its direct listing reference price of $40 a share. 

It opened Wednesday at $54.05. The listing price valued the company at $4.98 billion. Warby had 124.5 million shares outstanding as of Sept. 21, according to MarketWatch.

It trades on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker WRBY.

The company filed for its listing in August. In a direct listing, instead of raising new outside capital in an initial public offering, a company's current holders convert their stakes into stock that is listed on an exchange.

The New York company, which launched in 2010, provides designer quality prescription glasses and contact lenses, as well as eye exams and vision tests online and in more than 145 retail stores in the U.S. and Canada.

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"For the year ended Dec. 31, we generated 95% of net revenue from the sale of glasses, 2% of net revenue from the sale of contacts, 1% of net revenue from eye exams, and the remaining 2% of net revenue primarily from the sale of eyewear accessories," the company said in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing for the listing.

For the first half Warby Parker posted a $20.4 million loss on $270.5 million in revenue.

For all of 2020 the company registered a loss of $55.9 million on $393.7 million in revenue. 

In a letter included in the SEC filing, the 11 year old company's co-founders and co-chief executives, Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa, said, "We couldn't understand why glasses were so expensive or why the process of buying them was so cumbersome and inconvenient. 

"As we looked for explanations, we discovered a massive industry that maintained high prices, high margins, low customer satisfaction and little Innovation - and we thought we could do better."

To be sure, the company says: “We have a history of losses, and we may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability. We will need to generate and sustain increased revenue and manage our costs to achieve profitability."