Whatnot exists with one primary goal in mind: to give people a place to buy and sell collectibles (like Pokémon cards, sports cards, pins, etc) in a safe, authenticated way.
The company started out with intentions of being a GOAT/StockX-style resale marketplace, where the products up for sale lived on neat little pages with row after row of static images. As they started experimenting with other formats, they found one that really seemed to catch on: livestream sales. Think QVC or the Home Shopping Network… but instead of hosts in huge studios selling jewelry and patio furniture, it’s users with smartphones selling Charizard cards and Yoda figurines.
I first wrote about Whatnot last year. In the short time since, the company has raised three increasingly large rounds: $4 million in December, $20 million in March, and, as of this morning, another $50 million.
While Whatnot still offers the more standard product pages to give sellers a 24/7 presence on the site, the livestreaming side of things has become the primary driver — by far. Co-founder Grant LaFontaine tells me that livestreaming is currently “95% of the focus”; it’s where most of their sales are happening, and what users seem to care most about.
Another thing users seem to care about? Sports cards. Whatnot opened up the site to sports card sellers in January, and it almost immediately took over as the site’s best selling category. The one category now accounts for “millions of dollars” in sales each month, the company says.
The Whatnot team itself is growing quickly as well. When I first spoke to them, it was just a handful of employees; by January of this year, they were up to ten. Today it’s 45 fulltimers. By the end of the year, says Grant, they expect to be nearing one hundred.
While anyone can sell on Whatnot’s marketplace, only users that have been vetted/invited can sell via livestream. This helps to keep fraud low; sellers know that if they try to sneak in fake cards or rip anyone off, their access to livestreaming — and thus their audience — could vanish.
The company tells me that this Series B round was led by Anu Hariharan of Y Combinator Continuity fund, and backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Animal Capital, and a number of angels.
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