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Safilo Group Acquires 70% of Blenders Eyewear

Chase Fisher will remain as CEO of Blenders.

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Safilo Group announced the acquisition of a 70 percent stake in the equity of California-based Blenders Eyewear LLC.

Safilo purchased the stake from Chase Fisher, the company’s founding entrepreneur and full owner.

Launched in San Diego, Blenders Eyewear “has built an advanced e-commerce platform with unique digital and social media skills, which has achieved fast and profitable growth thanks to its world-class digital capabilities,” according to a press release. The company generates about 95 percent of its business through its proprietary direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform, more recently complemented by the opening of the first Blenders flagship store in San Diego.

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Blenders Eyewear’s products “are inspired by the California active and progressive lifestyle and offer a compelling price-to-value eyewear proposition, particularly appealing to a broad range of consumers with a focus on Millennials and Generation Z, both female and male,” according to the release.

The brand has fueled its growth through highly social marketing strategies, partnering with influencers, athletes, and lifestyle enthusiasts and arranging product collaborations.

In 2019 the company expects to reach profitable net sales of approximately $42 million, all generated in the U.S. and up around 40 percent compared to the previous year.

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Angelo Trocchia, Safilo’s CEO, said: “We are thrilled to welcome to Safilo an inspiring brand like Blenders Eyewear, a fast-growing e-commerce-powered business at the forefront of the latest direct to consumer and omni-channel capabilities, which will enrich our proprietary portfolio with new strong skills and a particular focus on our key US market.”

Chase Fisher, founder and CEO of Blenders Eyewear, said: “This marks a huge step forward for Blenders and we’re excited to be part of Safilo to reach a wider marketplace. Safilo’s product know-how and global distribution capabilities are the perfect complement to our digitally native business model, opening up worldwide expansion potential. We’re on a mission to build a thriving global community that inspires people to live in forward motion.”

Safilo acquired the 70 percent controlling interest in the company, based on a total value on a cash and debt free basis  equal to $90 million. The cash consideration to be paid at closing is subject to customary price adjustments.

Fisher will retain full ownership of 30 percent of the shares and will remain CEO of Blenders Eyewear, which will continue to run out of its San Diego home.

Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 23 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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Biotech Firm Raises $30M for Eye Disease Therapies

It’s focusing on retinal and other ophthalmic maladies.

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PARIS & FORT WORTH, TX — Eyevensys, a biotechnology company developing non-viral gene therapies for retinal and other ophthalmic diseases, has completed a $30 million funding round.

The company will use the funds to continue development of its clinical lead candidate — known as EYS606 — for the treatment of chronic non-infectious uveitis, including the launch of its Electro Study, according to a press release. This Phase 2 trial, to be conducted in the U.S., will evaluate the safety and efficacy of the candidate in patients with active forms of all anatomic uveitis subtypes.

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The funding will also advance the preclinical development of the firm’s other therapeutic proteins targeting ophthalmic diseases with unaddressed medical needs, such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. A product candidate known as EYS606 is currently in a phase I/II clinical trial in the European Union and has been granted an Orphan drug designation by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of non-infectious uveitis.

The new Series B financing round was led by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and included participation from existing investors Pontifax, Bpifrance, CapDecisif, and Inserm Transfert, as well as new investors, the Global Health Sciences Fund (Quark Venture LP and GF Securities) and Pureos Bioventures.

In conjunction with the financing, Eyevensys has added members to its board of directors. Neena Kadaba, PhD, director of science at Quark Venture LP, joined the board, as did Dominik Escher, PhD, managing partner at Pureos Bioventures and former founder and CEO of ESBATech, an ophthalmology biotech company acquired by Alcon in 2009.

Eyevensys has also recently opened a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary in Fort Worth, TX. All U.S. operations will be managed from this location, though the Eyevensys headquarters will remain in Paris.

Dr. Patricia Zilliox, Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are thrilled to have completed this Series B funding round with the strong support from both existing and new investors for the company. This funding will assist the further development of our technology and position Eyevensys as an innovator in the field of ophthalmology.”

She continued: “As we launch the Electro Study, our first U.S. clinical trial, Eyevensys will also have an opportunity to connect with ophthalmology opinion leaders in the U.S. to gain further exposure for our groundbreaking technology platform. This will also move the company one step closer to providing a more effective and convenient treatment approach to ease the burden of managing patients with chronic ocular conditions.”

As for technical specifics, the company states:

The Eyevensys technology is a non-viral gene therapy ocular drug delivery platform that uses an Electrotransfection System to deliver DNA plasmids encoding therapeutic proteins into the ciliary muscle. This turns the eye into a biofactory, allowing the ciliary muscle to express and secrete the therapeutic protein to the back of the eye at therapeutic levels for a duration of greater than 6 months.

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Smart Glasses ‘Breakthrough’ Likely Not Far Off, Zuckerberg Says

New products ‘will redefine our relationship with technology.’

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says major developments in augmented reality are probable in the coming decade, CNBC reports.

He offered his thoughts in a Facebook post last week, writing, “The technology platform of the 2010s was the mobile phone. While I expect phones to still be our primary devices through most of this decade, at some point in the 2020s, we will get breakthrough augmented reality glasses that will redefine our relationship with technology.”

CNBC decribes augmented reality as “technology that lets users place digital objects on top of the real world.”

Zuckerberg acknowledged that some augmented-reality products to this point have felt “clunky.” But he said new products “will be the most human and social technology platforms anyone has built yet.”

He said augmented reality could improve many areas of life, including careers: “Imagine if you could live anywhere you chose and access any job anywhere else. If we deliver on what we’re building, this should be much closer to reality by 2030.”

In September, Facebook was reported to be working with Luxottica to develop a pair of smart glasses. The project was reportedly code-named Orion.

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The glasses would be intended to disrupt the smartphone market. Zacks reported at the time that the idea was to “allow users of the smart glasses to take calls, livestream on social media and many other such features that are intended to replace smartphones.”

With the smart glasses project, Facebook was apparently “raising its efforts to withstand the intense competition in the next-generation glasses space from Snap, Google, Microsoft and Apple,” Zacks said at the time.

Read more at the CNBC

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$60M to Support Potential Treatment for Eyelash Mite Outbreaks

It could be the ‘first-ever drug treatment for this condition.’

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IRVINE, CA — Tarsus Pharmaceuticals has announced the completion of $60 million in Series B financing.

The clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company will use the funds to start a Phase 2b/3 trial in the U.S. of its lead product, a drug candidate for treatment of Demodex blepharitis.

An estimated 20 million Americans suffer from blepharitis, and approximately 45 percent of them have clinical signs of Demodex mites, the company explains in a press release. Tarsus is developing a topical ophthalmic that “targets an underlying cause of blepharitis and has the potential to be the first-ever drug treatment for this condition,” according to the release.

The funding will also fuel Phase 1 and 2 development of other clinical programs. The company’s product pipeline includes additional indications in eyecare and other areas of high unmet clinical need, according to the release.

“We’re excited to support this innovative company that is developing the first drug for Demodex blepharitis and building a pipeline of products to address other large market opportunities,” said Dr. Chen Yu, managing partner at Vivo Capital.

Michael Ackermann, Tarsus chairman, said, “We founded Tarsus with the mission of bringing to market the first drug for Demodex blepharitis, an important unmet need and one of the largest diseases in anterior segment medicine.”

Dr. Bobby Azamian, Tarsus CEO, added, “We are grateful for support from a leading syndicate of healthcare investors. This financing will allow Tarsus to grow, conduct a first registration study in Demodex blepharitis, and broaden our mission to deliver innovative therapies in eye care and beyond by advancing our clinical pipeline in 2020.”

The financing was led by Vivo Capital and included Frazier Healthcare Partners, Flying L Partners, Visionary Ventures, Aperture Venture Partners and Horowitz Group.

 

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