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.