Today, the Los Angeles-based subscription box company FabFitFun said it has landed a whopping $80 million in Series A funding led by Kleiner Perkins. The brand is known for its quarterly box of lifestyle products, ranging from makeup to fitness tools, that costs $49.99, which customers can customize. FabFitFun launched in 2010, and had only taken $6.5 million in capital until this point. This large amount of investment signals the brand’s ambitions to be a dominant force in the subscription economy, and also expand beyond the box to become a content platform.
Over the last four years, I’ve carefully tracked the rise and fall of the subscription box phenomenon. Birchbox, which launched in 2014, helped popularize the idea with a fun new way to discover new beauty products with monthly boxes of samples. This prompted dozens of other companies to launch similar boxes that contained everything from pet toys to sexual wellness products. But it’s not easy to successfully monetize a subscription business. Many companies struggled to generate revenue.
The subscription companies that have done well have effectively become content companies. Beauty discovery brand Ipsy, for instance, relies on an army of social media influencers to keep customers plugged into the brand. For its part, FabFitFun has a lifestyle magazine that goes in every box, a live-stream video channel that runs on Facebook every day, and a forum for members to connect. All of this has helped it grow to more than 1 million members. With this new influx of cash, FabFitFun will be poised to vastly increase this customer base.