Special Series Part 5: These E-Commerce Startups Sped Up Despite The Slowdown

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Special Series Part 5: These E-Commerce Startups Sped Up Despite The Slowdown





Editor’s note: This story is the final part of our series spotlighting late-stage startups that not only raised big funds recently but doubled their valuations as well. Read Part One on startups focused on  the future of work, Part Two on Web3,  Part Three on health care, and Part Four on cybersecurity.—Special Projects Editor Christine Kilpatrick

After exploding during the pandemic, online retail growth in the U.S. continues to slow, posting single-digit growth in the last four quarters. Online’s share of total retail sales has settled at around 20.6% as of the second quarter of 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.  

Ontario-based Shopify, which enables small retailers to set up e-commerce channels, acknowledged that the growth seen during the pandemic was not sustainable. CEO and co-founder Tobias Lütke announced the company laid off 10% of its employees, or around 1,000 team members, in July.

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Even mighty Amazon is affected. The company’s online shopping business slowed by 4% in the second quarter of 2022 compared to a year ago, although Prime Day’s shift from July to June did impact the numbers.  

But not all e-commerce sectors are slowing. Scattered niches with a mix of business-to-business and direct-to-consumer offerings are still gaining market share in 2022. They’re finding ways to win with livestreaming, wholesale matching and shopping rewards. Here are four companies that have doubled—or in one case, quadrupled—their valuations from their 2021 fundings per a Crunchbase News analysis.

Live shopping 

Marina Del Rey, California-based Whatnot, a live marketplace for selling collectibles such as sneakers, trading cards and rare toys, raised a $260 million Series D in July. DST Global and Alphabet’s CapitalG led the large round, which gave Whatnot a valuation of $3.7 billion, up 147% from its $1.5 billion valuation in September 2021. 

Whatnot grew sales 20x year over year in 2021, and its monthly revenue is up 3x so far in 2022. Co-founder Grant LaFontaine has credited the launch of livestreaming on Whatnot’s app in July 2020 with changing the course of the business. 

Livestream has also excited investor interest in Firework, a business-to-business livestream and short video shopping company. Based in the Bay Area, Firework helps retailers connect with consumers through its website and channels, and across social platforms. 

In May, Firework raised a $150 million Series B led by the SoftBank Vision Fund. That round pushed the company’s valuation to $750 million, up 226% from its prior valuation of $230 million in March 2021. 

Wholesale marketplace 

South Korea-based Tridge focuses on the wholesale side of things. Tridge, which matches wholesale buyers and sellers for agricultural products, raised a $37 million round in August, led by DS Asset Management. That round earned Tridge a $2.7 billion valuation, up more than 400% from the company’s $500 million valuation in July 2021. The company provides a trusted place for wholesale agriculture analysis, supply and purchasing across 150 countries. 

Rewards

Shopping rewards app Fetch Rewards announced a funding of $240 million in equity and debt led by Hamilton Lane at a valuation north of $2.5 billion. The Wisconsin-based company was last valued at $1 billion just over a year ago. Fetch Rewards users scan their purchase slips to earn points toward gift cards or other rewards. The company recently announced 13 million active users, up from 7 million in March 2021. Great Oaks Venture Capital led Fetch Rewards’ first seed round in 2014.

Illustration: Dom Guzman



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Author: Gené Teare