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Polyvore, the Fashion Site, Gets More Money and a New C.E.O.

January 24, 2012
New York Times
by Claire Cain Miller

On Polyvore, the do-it-yourself online fashion magazine, the trendiest clothing and accessories today are Givenchy bags, miniskirts and anything from H&M.

That information is helpful enough to advertisers, brands and users that Polyvore has become a destination, with 13 million unique visitors a month, far surpassing the Web sites of traditional fashion magazines.

On Monday, Polyvore will announce that it has raised $14 million from investors, bringing its total venture capital to $22.2 million. It will use the new money to expand abroad, onto mobile phones and tablets and into areas beyond women’s fashion, like interior design and weddings. Polyvore also named its third chief executive in two years, Jess Lee, its former vice president of product.

“You can think of us as a media company, like Condé Nast,” said Pasha Sadri, a Polyvore co-founder and the former chief executive, who will become chief technology officer.

The big difference, other than that Polyvore is only online, is that its users create its content and even its ads. They build collages of outfits they like, called sets, by digitally pasting together a sweater from one e-commerce site with boots and a handbag from others. Polyvore users create 1.4 million sets a month.

Advertisers invite users to create branded collages. Lancôme, for instance, recently held a contest on the site for users to create sets based on the colors of its new eye makeup. Eleven thousand people made sets and six million people viewed Lancôme’s featured products.

Ms. Lee is taking over as chief executive as the company moves to expand quickly and sell more ads to big-name brands. She excels at managing teams of people, Mr. Sadri said, while he wants to focus on the engineering side of the company.

Polyvore has had some management upheaval in its five years of existence. Mr. Sadri was chief executive until 2010, when Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, a former Google executive, took over but then abruptly left and Mr. Sadri took over again.

Ms. Lee wants to continue to use the Web site to shake up the fashion world. During Fashion Week in New York, for instance, Polyvore will sponsor Polyvore Live, a fashion show featuring up-and-coming designers that will be livestreamed online and styled by Polyvore users.

“It’s kind of the Polyvore-style, democratic way of looking at fashion, which can be quite exclusive,” Ms. Lee said.

She becomes one of a relatively tiny number of female chief executives and entrepreneurs at Silicon Valley tech companies.

“My mom was an entrepreneur when I was growing up, so it never occurred to me that it was weird at all to have a a woman C.E.O.,” she said. “In Silicon Valley, I definitely hope to see more of it.”

Polyvore’s new investors — DAG Ventures, Goldman Sachs and Vivi Nevo — join its current ones, Benchmark Capital and Matrix Partners.

Polyvore, the Fashion Site, Gets More Money and a New C.E.O.

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