Livestream shopping in the United States has a ways to go to catch up with China’s booming $600 billion industry, but Whatnot’s new $260 million Series D round shows that shoppers stateside are increasingly embracing this way of buying and selling items.
The new investment was co-led by DST Global and returning investor CapitalG, and more than doubles the live shopping platform’s valuation to $3.7 billion, up from the $1.5 billion valuation in September 2021, when Whatnot raised $150 million. Also participating in the round were BOND and returning investors Andreessen Horowitz and YC Continuity.
Whatnot intends to use the capital infusion to continue developing its in-app live and social commerce marketplace and roll out additional categories for collectors, including diecast cars, stamps and action figures.
Grant LaFontaine and Logan Head founded the company in 2019 as a place where avid collectors could share their interests along with buying and selling things like rare Pokémon cards and Funko Pops.
It took the initial approach of the popular “card break” concept, where users buy unopened boxes of Pokémon or sports cards and others tune in to watch them reveal the contents live. That has evolved into other collectibles, including sneakers, trading cards, sports memorabilia and rare toys.
Growing demand led Whatnot to not only raise three rounds of capital in 2021, but see year over year sales grow over 20 times in 2021, with a more than tripling of its monthly sales so far in 2022, according to the company.
“This last year has been one of fast-paced growth largely attributed to the powerful community our platform is fostering,” CEO Lafontaine said in a written statement. “It’s been incredible to see how our app cultivates connections between people with shared hobbies, keeping them tuned in to our entertaining live streams even if they aren’t buying and providing a hub for anyone to browse and discover new interests. Building on this momentum, we have our sights set on expanding into more categories and creating new experiences for people with all types of passions and hobbies.”
Livestream shopping is just an $11 billion business in the United States so far, but is poised to reach $35 billion in sales by 2024. Fast growth with companies like Whatnot have venture capital investors seeking out other players, and in the past year have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into companies like Popshop Live, Upmesh, buywith, Firework and Drip.
Meanwhile, to meet some of that growth and offer new features, Whatnot acquired Pastel Labs, a company that builds products, for example, to capture user video testimonials.
The company also recently made additional hires across sales, marketing and engineering to continue improving the buying and selling experiences, including Xinan Wu, previously at Citadel Securities, as head of infrastructure and Agnieszka Podsiadło, formerly with Lyft, as head of core product engineering.