Ever heard of Whatnot, a live stream platform and marketplace that allows collectors and enthusiasts to connect with their community to buy and sell verified products safely? If you said “no,“ you wouldn’t be alone. But that could change!
Co-founded in 2019 by former Google and GOAT employees Grant Lafontaine and Logan Head, the live stream shopping platform announced today it raised $20 million in Series A funding.
Whatnot plans to use the funds to hire more people and expand into new categories like comic books, vintage video games, and hardware to expand its current offering. Currently, it specializes in popular collectibles like Pokemon cards, sports cards, Funko Pops, and more.
To date, Whatnot has raised a total of $24.7 million and is very much still at the beginning of its journey.
However, the latest funding was led by Connie Chan, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, who is very familiar with the business model Whatnot is building in the United States. She joined the Silicon Valley venture capital firm in 2011 and is familiar with the Chinese consumer technology culture.
Chan is often tapped as an expert to explain how trends may move from Asia to the West and could also double as a “thought resource” for Whatnot as it builds the business. In a blog post, she explained why Andreessen Horowitz invested in Whatnot, but this quote from her post summarizes it best:
“I’ve been closely watching the commerce space in search of new, immersive shopping formats and experiences. In particular, I’ve been interested in companies focused on livestream shopping—otherwise known as shopatainment—which has already gone mainstream in China, fueling over $150 billion in GMV. Livestream shopping is entertaining and full of discovery, and it’s far more immersive than your typical ecommerce experience. “
Whatnot Has Potential to Challenge eBay and Facebook
While $24.7 million is “beer money” in Silicon Valley, the high-profile addition of Andreessen Horowitz as an early investor in Whatnot is significant.
In addition to Chan’s understanding of how the Asian commerce concept of “shopatainment“ could become a success in the U.S., Andreessen Horowitz has a history of financially backing trendsetters like Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Groupon, Zynga, and Airbnb, before becoming household names.
If Whatnot can continue to execute the business plan and grow the marketplace to expectations, the company shouldn’t have problems raising more cash to push forward.
With just about two years under its belt, Whatnot still has a way to go. The company’s category focus puts it into direct competition with a long-time stalwart in this space, eBay, and to a lesser extend Facebook. Both with deep pockets and resources to defend their businesses.
But unlike those two companies, Whatnot is building a modern platform from the ground up for today’s media-savvy consumer that combines the best of both worlds, shopping and social engagement. It can solve pain points now instead of trying to find ways to shoehorn new ideas into legacy systems and thinking.
“Many of our biggest and most popular sellers have thriving communities on other platforms, but had to find work-arounds to actually buy and sell the pieces their fans were asking for. Inspired by our own experiences buying and selling collectibles online, Whatnot creates a space that turns online shopping into entertainment, helps people connect live over the things they love, and is purpose-built to make it easy to foster both community and commerce.”Logan Head, co-founder Whatnot
Right now, Whatnot has thousands of sellers and tens of thousands of buyers on its platform. The company says many are on track to make over six figures on the app, with a majority of buyers returning to the app.
That sounds like a promising start and one that should entice more sellers and buyers on other platforms to give Whatnot a try.
In addition to Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, Wonder Ventures, Operator Partners, Scribble Ventures, Steve Aoki and Chris Zarou also participated in the $20 million funding round.
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