Women were truly living their best lives this past year, as they say, by making headline-grabbing, industry-disrupting, multimillion-dollar business moves. We’ve got the scoop on six significant plays made this year by successful entrepreneurial women. Take a look at these 2018 achievements — and let’s hope the new year brings even more growth and opportunity.
1. Zola Rakes in Over $100 Million
Just as the spring wedding season was beginning, online wedding planning tool Zola made a big announcement of its own: It pulled in $140 million through another round of funding. Big-time investors such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Comcast Corp. joined in — and in doing so, reportedly brought the value of Zola up to $600 million. CEO and co-founder Shan-Lyn Ma launched the company in 2013 to help busy brides and grooms organize gift registries, guest lists and wedding websites. Today, more than 500,000 users have coordinated their nuptials through Zola.
2. Emerson Collective Goes Shopping
Last month, Emerson Collective, a philanthropic education and media organization founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, acquired Pop-Up Magazine. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the acquisition follows Powell Jobs’ $10 million investment in Pop-Up last year. And as part of the deal, Emerson Collective now owns California Sunday Magazine — how’s that for a gift with purchase? We’re guessing there wasn’t a Black Friday sale involved, but Powell Jobs can swing it — the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is said to have a net worth of $19.1 billion.
3. 23andMe Tests the Pharma Waters
Home genetics test maker 23andMe has joined forces with London pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline — and received $300 million in the process. In this new partnership, 23andMe will collaborate with the drug giant on developing new medicines using the testing company’s vast stores of genetic information. Co-founders Linda Avey, Anne Wojcicki and Paul Cusenza launched the company in 2006, and have since grown it into one of the most valuable companies in the world. We guess success is in their DNA.
4. Brandless Breaks the Bank in Latest Round
Just in time for fall fashion week, Brandless, an all-natural e-commerce site launched in 2017 by serial entrepreneurs Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler, secured $240 million in Series C funding. The company’s name is a nod to its refusal to sell big-name products, offering “no-brand” home, food and beauty goods for about $3 a pop. Tech investor Softbank Vision Fund led the funding round, with Redpoint Ventures, Sherpa Capital and GV joining in, among others. Sharkey told WWD that the money will help Brandless “make better stuff accessible and affordable for more people.”
5. A.I. Platform Catches Melinda Gates’ Eye
As part of her push to lift up women in tech, Melinda Gates gave $200,000 to Alice, an A.I. startup launched by high-profile female founders Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz. It’s a learning platform that connects entrepreneurs — particularly women, people of color and members of the LGBT community — with local and digital resources that can help them both start and grow their ventures. Alice is the first private company aided by Gates’ Pivotal Ventures, having previously focused on giving to women-led VC firms prior to inking this deal.
6. A $30 Million Fresh Start
Pam Marrone, one of the few women who has taken her company public, is the subject of one of our video profiles. She raised $30 million from investors this year for her all-natural pesticide company. It’s not just a boon for business — it’s also part of a comeback for Marrone, who weathered more than 10 years of rough seas before finding success. She likened her experience to “hell,” but looking ahead, the sky’s the limit. Watch and read about her entrepreneurial roller-coaster ride here.