For many years now, we’ve seen ecommerce grow, sparking an entire industry of new brands, channels, and technology stacks. Today, everything from a legacy department store to your local grocery store to a faraway fashion boutique is “online” at your fingertips.
But the actual experience of shopping hasn’t changed very much. We still generally begin browsing with a specific item in mind; it all feels pretty transactional. Traditional ecommerce platforms often fail to deliver that joy of discovery you feel when shopping in-person, whether solo or with a friend.
Think back to early Pinterest. Back in 2011, Pinterest introduced me to a world of marvelous products and hacks that made life more beautiful. It showed me items I never thought to shop for, and the pinning and collecting mechanic was rewarding and aspirational.
Since then, 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. It’s like a group treasure hunt where the hosts curate items and create a lively environment that makes shopping fun again. Similar to Pinterest, shopping becomes a byproduct of entertainment.
U.S. companies have been chipping away at building these experiences, but if China tells us anything, it’s that the live shopping market is big enough for multiple platforms, niches, and standouts.
This is why we were so excited to lead the Series A in Whatnot, a livestream shopping platform and marketplace where users buy and sell collectibles like Pokemon cards, sports cards, Funko Pops, and more. The platform delivers on entertainment and connection, and sellers are thrilled with the results. They’re building followings—which helps them continue to sell products, again and again.
Whatnot cofounders Grant LaFontaine and Logan Head both bring impressive technical chops, entrepreneurial grit, and community-building expertise to Whatnot. As genuine collectors themselves, they understand the depth and breadth of the collectibles market (a $10 billion+ market by itself) as well as the needs of sellers and their frustration with existing marketplaces.
We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Grant and Logan and the entire Whatnot team to realize the dream of live shopping in the U.S., and using video to help buyers and sellers rediscover the joy of shopping.
The views expressed here are those of the individual AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) personnel quoted and are not the views of a16z or its affiliates. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by a16z. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, a16z has not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. In addition, this content may include third-party advertisements; a16z has not reviewed such advertisements and does not endorse any advertising content contained therein.
This content is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities or digital assets are for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investors or prospective investors, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by a16z. (An offering to invest in an a16z fund will be made only by the private placement memorandum, subscription agreement, and other relevant documentation of any such fund and should be read in their entirety.) Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z, and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by Andreessen Horowitz (excluding investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets) is available at https://a16z.com/investments/.
Charts and graphs provided within are for informational purposes solely and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. The content speaks only as of the date indicated. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects, and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Please see https://a16z.com/disclosures for additional important information.