Live shopping platform Whatnot has nabbed another $150 million in a Series C funding round– the company’s third round of capital raising in 2021 alone. Existing investors Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund led the funding round and were joined by a new investor–CapitalG, previously known as Google Capital. Angel investors such as Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors, Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans, and American Youtuber Logan Paul, also participated in the funding round. The latest round places the company’s valuation at $1.5 billion, granting Whatnot the status of a unicorn.
The live streaming shopping platform allows collectors to buy and sell things like rare Pokémon cards and Funko Pops. But how does Whatnot work? With Whatnot’s live shopping, verified sellers can go on the air at any time, hosting on-the-fly video auctions for their goods. Sometimes buyers know exactly what they’re getting. Other times it’s more of a mystery bag; with the popular “card break” concept. For example, users buy assigned portions of an unopened box of Pokémon or sports cards and watch its contents revealed live.
Whatnot originally launched as a more standard resale platform that was focused on authenticating just one kind of collectible: Funko Pops. But with the advent of the pandemic, Whatnot shifted towards online live shopping, as people were forced to stay at home. Whatnot saw an opportunity and seized it– a smart move that is yielding impressive results. Meanwhile, the company has ventured into other collectibles including Pokémon cards, pins, vintage clothing, and sneakers. Whatnot’s biggest driver is sports cards, followed by Pokémon cards and Funko Pops, according to Co-founder Grant Lafontaine.
To prevent fraud, Whatnot ensures that the sellers who want to use the platform are already known and trusted in their respective communities. Before a seller can go live on the platform, he must be vetted by the company. This way, the rate of fraud is minimized. Sellers who are caught in unscrupulous acts are immediately taken off the platform.
Very soon, Whatnot will be rolling out a complete rebuild of both its iOS and Android apps, with a new UI meant to make the entire process smoother and easier for both buyers and sellers.
The latest round brings the company’s total funds raised to $225 million. Other live streaming platforms such as Popshop and Loupe –Whatnot’s rivals, have also been raising millions for their platforms. In June, Loupe raised $12 million and, reportedly, it plans on opening a physical retail space soon.