Julie L. Wainwright is an e-commerce entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of The RealReal, an online marketplace for authenticated luxury consignment.
|Alma mater||Purdue University|
By 1996, she had replaced Wes Boyd as CEO of Berkeley Systems where she was instrumental in changing the company's strategy by making it a leading interactive entertainment entity. As president and CEO of the company, she reduced a two year decline in productivity. She was among one third of the employees that were laid off from Berkeley when the company was sold to CUC in late 1996.
Wainwright became President and CEO of Reel.com, replacing founder, Stuart Skorman. After 27 months, in July 1998, Hollywood Video CEO Mark Wattles announced Hollywood had purchased Reel.com "in a deal valued at $100 million", which included $30 million in cash to Reel's stockholders; Reel.com was to continue operating independently, and led by Wainwright, then Wainwright then left the organization to be replaced by Jeff Jordan.
Wainwright was approached by John Hummer of HummerWinblad Ventures to run Pets.com, she was CEO of Pets.com when it ceased operations 268 days after its initial stock offering - "one of the shortest-lived public companies on record" according to Kirk Cheyfitz, author of Thinking Inside the Box: The 12 Timeless Rules for Managing a Successful Business. After shutting Pets.com in November 2000, her husband sought a divorce. Wainwright said that this was a very difficult time in her life: "I had two major life crises in the same week, one public and one private, that sent me on a journey of self-discovery and healing I couldn’t have anticipated."
Wainwright founded The RealReal in 2011, and the company shipped its first orders in June of that year. In a 2015 article, Forbes gave The RealReal a FORBES-estimated valuation of $300 million saying “the startup is in a much better place than Pets.com ever was.” By December 2017, The RealReal employed 950 people and was estimated to be on track to have around $500 million in annual revenue. As of July 2018, The RealReal had raised $288 million in venture capital funding. The company’s focus on sustainability led to its becoming the first luxury member of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE100 USA.
In early 2019 The RealReal announced it would be adding an additional half-million square feet of e-commerce center space in Perth Amboy, New Jersey to its existing e-commerce centers in Secaucus, New Jersey and Brisbane, California.
Wainwright is an advisor to Springboard Enterprises’ New York Fashion Tech Lab and Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. She has been a board member of the Headlands Center for the Arts, Magic Theatre and San Francisco Art Institute.
The San Francisco Business Times recognized Wainwright as one of the most-admired CEOs of the year in 2014, and again in 2017 as one of the most influential women of the year. In 2016, Wainwright accepted the Fashion Group International’s award for Innovation in Retail e-Commerce on behalf of The RealReal and won Springboard Enterprises’ Northstar Award. She has been included in the Business of Fashion’s BoF500 for both 2016 and 2017, Vanity Fair’s New Establishment list 2017, and Forbes 40 over 40. In 2017, The RealReal received the award for Best-Performing Company in the small-cap category from WWD. In 2018 Wainwright was included in Inc.’s Female Founders 100 list, Entrepreneur’s 50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs and Fast Company’s Most Creative People In Business.
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