JustFab raises another $15M on some $300M in revenues; proving subscription commerce can work

By Michael Carney , written on December 19, 2013

From The News Desk

It’s been quite the year for JustFab.

The Los Angeles-based fast fashion online retailer made three acquisitions, including a doozie in its absorption of crosstown rival ShoeDazzle. It also expanded into Europe and opened its first retail storefront. And it raised an additional $40 million to finance all of this.

But apparently the company wasn’t done, as it quietly filed notice with the SEC two weeks ago announcing it had taken in another $15 million in new cash.

Hey, subscription commerce haters: Put that in your Christmas stocking and smoke it.

The latest round, call it a Series C-1, was an outgrowth of the company’s September Series C and brings the company’s total capitalization to $164 million. That round was led by Hong Kong's Shining Capital Management, and the lone (and unnamed) investor in this new tranche was one of Shining's regular co-investors, according to JustFab co-founder and co-CEO Adam Goldenberg. He didn't plan on raising more money, but Goldenberg said the opportunity was too good to pass up.

“The general rule of thumb is that when capital is available at a really nice valuation, and you have places to put the capital to work efficiently, you take it,” he says.

JustFab is operating ahead of plan in a number of categories, Goldenberg says. The company’s European operations are now operating at more than a $50 million run rate, seasonality included, after generating nearly $5 million in November revenue. Both France and the UK are operating EBITDA positively, according to Goldenberg, and the company plans to open additional European countries in Q1.

Domestically, the company’s FabKids division has expanded its line to offer boys apparel and Fabletics, the company’s five-month-old athletic line, is well ahead of plan, Goldenberg says. The activewear division is on pace to have its first $1 million month in December. With the early success and the availability of a little extra cash, this will be an area of heavy investment for the company early in 2014.

“We could sell more Fabletics if we had the product,” Goldenberg says. “With anything new, you want to see the initial results before buying in too deeply. In this case we’ve blown away our expectations. Our customer acquisition cost and purchase rates are both far better than we expected.”

As part of its ShoeDazzle acquisition and the company’s own organic growth, JustFab is in the process of building out a new 65,000 square foot campus El Segundo and plans to move in early 2014.

With all the international growth and business line expansion, it’s not entirely surprising that JustFab hasn’t released estimates for its 2013 gross revenues, but all indications are that the company is generating in the vicinity of $300 million. In August, as part of announcing the ShoeDazzle acquisition, the companies projected $400 million in combined 2014 revenue, but it may be ahead of that plan. Most importantly, unlike many of its competitors, several of JustFab’s more established markets are operating profitably or are within shouting range of doing so.

Despite what Goldenberg would have you think, however, it’s not all roses. While business may be good, the company is in the throes of an ongoing trademark lawsuit with ecommerce competitor Fab over the company’s similar name and its overlapping business categories. Goldenberg has declined numerous requests to discuss the case, citing ongoing legal proceedings, but it’s clear that neither company is willing to sacrifice its brand without a fight, making a settlement ulikely.

JustFab believes that it filed its fashion and ecommerce trademarks first, while Fab was still a gay social network. But as Fab shifted to a flash sales company and is now selling more lifestyle and fashion goods, it’s been encroaching further and further on JustFab’s turf. Fab’s Jason Goldberg disagrees and has filed a countersuit, calling JustFab “predatory.”

Goldenberg can take solace in news that Fab has been struggling mightily under the weight of its own $310 million in venture capital, billion dollar plus valuation, and over aggressive international growth. Stay tuned for more fireworks on this front in 2014

If this is good news for the much maligned subscription commerce category, it's great news for LA. Three-year-old JustFab and Goldenberg have become two of the most important figures here. As the region continues to look for big wins and lasting tentpole companies, JustFab may be one of its best chances at both. The company certainly plays to LA’s strengths, including fashion merchandising, brand development, performance marketing, content creation, and above all else, monetization. And with consecutive years of rapid growth and half a billion in revenue and profitability within sight, an IPO or blockbuster acquisition may not be too far around the corner.

 JustFab appears to have a big 2014 ahead of it. But as Fab and ShoeDazzle have shown, the fall from the top can be swift and painful. Goldenberg’s challenge will be to navigate this period of rapid growth while avoiding the pitfalls that tripped up many of its competitors.

Goldenberg has earned a bit of a rest this holiday season, but the new year and a blank slate is right around the corner.

[Image via JustFab]