Luggage manufacturer Away reached a valuation of $1.4 billion after raising $100 million, led by Wellington Capital Management. Additional investors included Baillie Gifford, Lone Pine Capital and Global Founders Capital.
Forbes profiled Away’s founders, Steph Korey and Jen Rubio, last fall after their company made the Forbes’ 2018 Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. At the time, the company was on track to do $150 million in revenue for 2018 and was valued at roughly $700 million.
Korey and Rubio, alumni of Warby Parker, had founded the company in 2015 with stylish luggage that cost less than existing brands. Its first product, a four-roller hard-shell bag that can be squeezed into an overhead rack, came in ten colors and cost $225, including standard shipping in the U.S.; a similar item from Tumi cost $525. Part of their success was due to an online sales strategy that included 1,000 influencers pushing the brand on Instagram.
With the new cash, which brings Away’s total equity funding to $156 million, the New York City-based company plans to expand its product lineup, add more retail stores and launch in international markets.
Away is the fourth company from last year’s Forbes’ Next Billion-Dollar Startups list to reach unicorn status. Earlier this year, Lemonade, KeepTruckin and Coursera all crossed the billion-dollar threshold.
The fundraise prompted an unusual proposal on Twitter from Slack cofounder and CEO Stewart Butterfield who posted news of it with the comment to Rubio: “Let’s make today a double-whammy — @jennifer, will you marry me? Promise I’m not just a golddigger” He later posted her Slack comment to him: “babe. that tweet really spiraled. how do we get out of this” — as many of his 86,000 followers continued to comment.
Away’s plans for a fundraise of as much as $1.45 billion were first reported by venture-capital database PitchBook.
For more on Away, see our magazine story, “Next Billion-Dollar Startups: How Two Young Entrepreneurs Used Relentless Online Marketing To Build Away Into A $700M Luggage Brand.”
This post has been updated with details of the fundraise from Away and of the Twitter exchange.