The founder of online luxury website Net-A-Porter is launching a $75 million VC fund for retail tech
- Net-A-Porter founder Natalie Massenet is launching a new venture capital firm called Imaginary Ventures.
- The firm will invest in retail technology startups and has raised $75 million for its first fund.
- Imaginary has already invested in businesses like Appear Here, Farfetch, and Daily Harvest.
LONDON - Net-A-Porter founder Natalie Massenet has raised $75 million(£52 million) to launch a new venture capital firm targeting retail technology.
Imaginary Ventures will invest in early stage, direct-to-consumer businesses "at the intersection of retail and technology," according to a release announcing its launch.Massenet cofounded Imaginary Ventures with Nick Brown, a former partner at New York venture capital firm 14W. Imaginary will have offices in both London and New York.
Former journalist Massenet is best-known as the founder of online luxury retailer Net-A-Porter, which she set up in London in 2000. She sold a majority stake to Swiss luxury group Richemont for £50 million ($71.8 million) in 2010 before leading Net-A-Porter through a €3.2 billion (£2.7 billion; $3.9 billion) merger with Italy's Yoox Group in 2015. She left Net-A-Porter while the merger was completing.
Massenet said in a statement: "I've felt for a while that I wanted to apply the brand-building experience and network I've gained over my career to today's evolving retail landscape.
"The most effective route to do that was to partner with and invest in this emerging generation of entrepreneurs challenging the retail status-quo across every vertical.
"Partnering with Nick to launch Imaginary made perfect sense. We have always shared a vision that the businesses that will endure will be those that relentlessly prioritise their consumers' identities and needs and never lose sight of them as they grow."
Investors into Imaginary's first fund include founder and Rick Caruso, the CEO of eponymous US real estate company Caruso, and Matches Fashion's co-founders and joint chairmen Tom and Ruth Chapman.Traditional retailers are facing increasing disruption from online-only rivals who sell everything from beds to food and investors are keen to tap into the growing willingness of consumers to shop for almost anything online.
Imaginary Ventures will target startups in fashion, beauty, food and beverages, and lifestyle. The fund has already made some investments at launch, including retail pop-up space rental platform Appear Here, online luxury boutique platform Farfetch, and subscription superfood business Daily Harvest.