As the COVID-19 pandemic destroyed small businesses, some struggling companies turned to livestreaming-based ecommerce business Popshop Live to stay afloat.
Now, Popshop Live wants to prove that ecommerce via live streaming is here to stay.
Valued at $100 million, the company announced a Series A round of funding Thursday. Popshop declined to disclose how much it raised in the funding round, though TechCrunch reported the funding was around $20 million.
The round was led by Benchmark and included TQ Ventures, Mantis VC and Access Industries.
Popshop Live also hired former Instagram and Instacart executive Bangaly Kaba to lead platform growth and former head of Uber Eats Jason Droege to lead expansion, the company announced.
Founded in 2019, Popshop is one of several Los Angeles-based startups competing in the emerging livestreaming ecommerce world that includes talkshoplive, a streaming service for celebrities, and Whatnot, a streaming service for collectibles.
"Livestream commerce is not just a trend in China and through the pandemic," said Popshop Live board member Matt Cohler in announcing the raise. "It is an emerging multi-billion-dollar phenomenon whose growth is accelerating every day."
The company sees itself as a combination of online commerce with the experience of in-person shopping. Customers can scroll through live feeds of merchants selling items, interact with sellers and purchase items through Popshop's app. The startup claims that traditional brick-and-mortar sellers are shifting their focus to its platform, after seeing higher sales and rates of customer convergence.
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A few years ago, you went to eBay to bid on limited edition sports cards or out-of-print comic books. Then, livestreaming came to town.
Two weeks ago, one Pokemon collector dropped $17,500 on a Skyridge Charizard Holo card during a broadcasted event streamed live on Whatnot.
What began as a social app for collectors to swap stories and photos has ballooned into a digital stage for live auctions and unboxing videos. Since January, the Los Angeles tech startup has hired some 40 employees and leased a 10,000 square-foot office space in the Marina Arts District.
And on Tuesday — just a few months since its last big boost — the startup closed a $50 million Series B round.
Whatnot recently closed a $50 million Series B round.
"It's probably one of the fastest growing marketplaces we've ever seen," said Y Combinator's Anu Hariharan, who led the round.
It's been over a year since consumers moved online in droves and investors are still sinking millions into retail technology —livestream shopping especially.
L.A.-based Popshop Live was valued at $100 million last fall after an investor bidding war to lead its Series A. Talkshoplive, which hosts celebrities livestreaming about their memoirs and latest albums, scored seed capital in February from a venture firm backed by eBay's founder.
One Pokemon collector dropped $17,500 on a 1st Edition Shining Charizard card during a broadcasted event streamed live on Whatnot.
What gives? Hariharan said U.S. ecommerce has only embraced video in the last three to five years, and now it's everywhere. Even retailers like Home Depot introduced livestream demos and workshops during the pandemic.
Grant Lafontaine, the CEO and co-founder of Whatnot, brought the technology to a niche, well-connected community of online shoppers. He founded the company in 2019 with Logan Head, a former product manager at the online sneaker marketplace GOAT.
Their users are 18 to 32-year-old collectors who spend hours browsing eBay listings but crave something more interactive.
"They're on eBay because they're buying the collectibles, they're on Instagram to show them off," Lafontaine said. "They come to Whatnot because they can do both."
The company got its start as a social platform and marketplace — sans video livestreaming. That function came later, after a steady pool of users made checking Whatnot a daily habit.
"I was the first person to go live," Lafontaine said. "I sold out $5,000 worth of collectibles in two-and-a-half hours. The experience kind of spoke for itself. Anyone who saw it wanted to use it."
Other investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Animal Capital, musicians Ryan Tedder and DJ Skee with Min 10 and NFL players DeAndre Hopkins, Bobby Wagner and Jeremy Padawer. The company has raised $75 million to date.
Whatnot now boasts 15 categories of collectibles, from FunkoPops to sports cards (the most popular category on the app) to a few newer experimental verticals like vintage clothing. Within the next year, Lafontaine said he hopes to hit 30.
"For a young startup, it's always important to start with one or two categories, not with everything," said Hariharan. "What Whatnot has done really well in collectives will help them scale pretty much any product."
The app, she said, is on its way to becoming "eBay 2.0."A previous version of this story stated Whatnot closed a $40 million Series B Round. The correct amount is $50 million.
The livestream shopping craze continues.
Los Angeles-based Whatnot, an ecommerce app for collectibles and card games, has raised a $20 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz's Connie Chan.
Whatnot's platform — like other livestream apps on the market — allows sellers to demo products and make sales online. The company specializes in collectibles like Pokemon cards and Funko Pops, and uses real-time video to "capture the excitement of the in-person collector experience," Whatnot said in a press release.
The 15-person team will use the boost to hire and expand sales to categories like comic books and vintage video games.
The L.A. startup was founded in 2019 by Logan Head and Grant Lafontaine, former product managers at Facebook and GOAT who grew up buying collectibles from eBay and Yahoo Auctions.
Thursday's news comes just three months after Whatnot landed $4 million in seed funding. Though the company would not provide exact figures, it boasts tens of thousands of buyers and thousands of sellers, some of whom are "on track to make over six figures on the app."
In a blog post announcing the investment, Chan described the booming market of livestream shopping or "shopatainment" as a "a group treasure hunt where the hosts curate items and create a lively environment that makes shopping fun again."
"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," said the general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
Steve Aoki, Y Combinator, Wonder Ventures, Operator Partners, Scribble Ventures and Visionary Music Group's Chris Zarou also participated in the round.
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