Rent the Runway founder charged with Walmart startup

Walmart sign

Walmart has announced that Jennifer Fleiss, co-founder of Rent The Runway, will be leading Code Eight, the big-box retailer’s first incubated company. Fleiss will take on the role of co-founder and CEO of the innovative startup tasked with developing highly personalized shopping experiences. 

Fleiss, along with Jennifer Hyman, founded the new online clothing rental model eight years ago and turned Rent the Runway into a globally recognized brand, starting in e-commerce and now in brick-and-mortar as well. Fleiss stepped down from her role at Rent the Runway earlier this year and remains a member of the board. 

“Our team has a powerful vision for what retail can look like today and what it will be in the future. By empowering top level talent to lead these portfolio companies and work with autonomy, we’re able to attract true industry innovators like Jenny. We are also thankful for the support from the Walmart and Jet teams, who share our passion for driving the future of retail. We look forward to announcing more about the company in the coming months but for now, please join us in welcoming Jenny to the Store No. 8 team,” principals Seth Beal and Katie Finnegan said on the No. 8 blog. 

Code Eight is a prodigy of Store No. 8, an innovation center for uncovering, inventing and investing in the ideas that will transform the future of commerce. 

Announced last month at ShopTalk by Jet founder and Walmart’s CEO of U.S. e-commerce business Mark Lore, Store No. 8 will be a standalone entity in California’s Silicon Valley. Store No. 8 will partner with entrepreneurs, early-stage startups, VCs and academics across a variety of areas including robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

“These businesses will run just like any other startups but will be ring-fenced by the rest of the organization and backed by the largest retailer in the world," Lore said in the announcement. “We’ll be bringing in entrepreneurs and giving them capital, and give them the opportunity to change the course of retail five or 10 years out.”