For the first time since its founding in 2003, Montreal-based SSENSE has secured an external backing as it announces a valuation of $5 billion CAD (approximately $4.1 billion USD). Californian VC firm Sequoia Capital's Beijing subsidiary, Sequoia Capital China, has invested an undisclosed amount into SSENSE and become a minority partner in the company, aiding the digital-first retailer as it plans major moves in China. Though this news doesn't necessarily portend an IPO anytime soon, it does hint at a willingness for the family-owned SSENSE to eventually open itself up to outside — and perhaps even public — stakeholders.
Sequoia Capital and its China branch have already dipped into fashion and beauty several times with investments in the likes of Glossier and AMI. Its SSENSE partnership is part of the Canadian company's greater push to expand globally, especially into the Chinese market. Luxury retail peers like MyTheresa and Farfetch have already gone public and announced plans to delve deeper into China, so SSENSE is clearly taking a competitive tact.
"We are thrilled to become the first outside investor and partner with SSENSE," Neil Shen, Steward of Sequoia Capital, Founding and Managing Partner of Sequoia Capital China said in a statement. "Sequoia is excited to support SSENSE in its continued global expansion and China acceleration."
Vogue China founder Angelica Cheung, who recently joined Sequoia Capital China, will join SSENSE's Board of Directors alongside sibling co-founders Rami, Firas, and Bassel Atallah.
In 2018, SSENSE told the Business of Fashion that it "has been profitable from day one" and aimed to draw $1 billion in revenue by 2020. Though its focus is on the digital market, SSENSE operates a physical boutique in Montreal, complete with experiential installations and a cafe.