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Our Investment in Whatnot: Fusing Ecommerce with Entertainment and Social

Laela Sturdy & Alex Nichols
16 Sep 2021
Our Investment in Whatnot: Fusing Ecommerce with Entertainment and Social

By CapitalG Investors Laela Sturdy and Alex Nichols

There’s an unquestionable delight in shopping for things you love. Whether you’re thrifting for clothes with friends, digging through crates of vinyl and discussing your finds with the owner, or finding a rare sports card at a garage sale, these experiences are special because of the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of discovery, and the exhilaration that comes from sharing your finds with others.

But despite decades of growth, the online browsing and shopping experience has stagnated. Today’s ecommerce platforms are designed for situations in which consumers start shopping only once they already have a specific product in mind. While today’s dominant ecommerce players offer speed of service and a wide selection, they do not solve for product discovery or the fun of shopping that brings you joy.

Whatnot was founded on the belief that online shopping doesn’t need to be a utilitarian, transaction-led experience. Instead, they’ve found that fusing ecommerce with social and entertainment features via livestream video can make online shopping fun and engaging. While selling through livestream is still new in the U.S., it has already become a major industry in China, where it has grown from $3B in transaction volume in 2017 to $137B in 2020. The success of immersive livestreamed shopping in China provides a powerful proof point that this new breed of ecommerce has the potential for horizontal, mass-market appeal. We believe the winner in this burgeoning market will become a major player in the U.S. ecommerce landscape — and we’re confident Whatnot will be the winner. In fact, Whatnot is already pulling away from competitors as the leading independent platform for livestream commerce in the U.S.

Whatnot brings shoppers into sellers’ livestream video feeds, making it easy and fun for shoppers to discover and purchase items that align with their passions. The company started with collectibles; within the last six months it has launched a host of new categories, including comics, vintage fashion and Yu-gi-oh! trading cards. Whatnot has already built a best-in-class platform and has achieved incredibly strong product-market fit across categories. In fact, Whatnot is one of the fastest growing marketplaces we’ve ever seen. And it’s just getting started.

Whatnot delights shoppers by fusing entertainment and social interactions with ecommerce. The platform delivers a fun and immersive discovery experience via livestream video while also ensuring that consumers benefit from a seamless transaction experience and the peace of mind that comes with guaranteed authenticity.

Whatnot delights sellers by providing them with a uniquely compelling monetization channel. The company connects sellers with significant numbers of incremental shoppers, and the livestream features enable Whatnot to engage with these buyers in a personal and recurring way that builds community and connection.

We are honored and excited to co-lead Whatnot’s Series C and to partner with Grant, Logan, and the rest of the outstanding Whatnot team on their journey to build a livestream commerce giant in the U.S. We’re huge believers in Whatnot’s compelling vision fusing entertainment and commerce, and also in the team’s ability to turn that vision into a reality. We couldn’t be more excited to support the Whatnot team on their journey.

Special thanks to Derrick Chow for his contributions to this article.

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