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Jun 04, 2022


Roxy Horrie


Jun 04, 2022


Roxy Horrie


Founded in 1986, QVC is perhaps the “OG” of livestream shopping. At the time, competition for eyeballs was not nearly the same as it is today, but that certainly does not detract from the innovative approach and continued reach that the company has today.

Amazingly, in spite of the technological advancement of the past 30+ years and the multitude of streaming platforms, apps and other means of consuming content, QVC (with its sister channel HSN) still has a stronghold on the market - with a reach of 380m homes worldwide and ~$14b in revenue last year.

Livestream shopping is a massive market to say the least, and is set to grow four-fold to $25b in the US alone in the next two years, according to Coresight research. However, that is nothing compared to China, where livestreaming e-commerce is expected to generate $423b in transactions this year, up from essentially zero in 2017.

China, which arguably has the world’s largest and most mature creator economy, has always been ahead of the trend in this space. Douyin predated TikTok. Or take online tipping, where Chinese sites embraced this feature long before Instagram and YouTube got on board. Now, however, there are signs that things are slowing down in the country - as the cost to brands of using influencers to push product is starting to outweigh the benefits.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what happens in the US, which is still in the early stages of growth and where consumer attention is still undergoing a shift from traditional media to creators and influencers and the social media platforms they operate on. While no one here can claim to have sold $2b worth of goods in one day or 15,000 lipsticks in 5 minutes (both actually happened IRL), advertising dollars are aplenty ($14b to be exact) and the creator economy is growing rapidly. Bridget Jones mum famously had a pop at it - What do you think you could flog to a live audience?

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Portfolio News

Constrafor grabs $106m in equity, credit to finance construction subcontractors - Large construction projects often take a long time to finish, and subcontractors can get caught up in the flow of money, waiting, in certain circumstances, up to 80 days to be paid by general contractors -- this not only causes delays, but also means subcontractors are essentially being asked to finance their portion of the project. That’s where Constrafor comes in: as a SaaS construction procurement platform with embedded financing. CoVenture led the credit facility while FinTech Collective led the equity portion, with participation from Village Global, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Commerce Ventures and a group of individual tech founders from Ramp, Uber and Paxos. The equity went to company payroll, while the credit will be used to purchase the invoices. Read more

Berlin-based B2B BNPL platform Mondu raises $43m Series A led by Valar in the US - Congratulations to portfolio company Mondu on their Series A raise! Previous investors Cherry Ventures, FinTech Collective and tech entrepreneurs and senior executives from Klarna, Zalando, and SumUp also participated. The company has now raised $57m to date. Mondu will use the funding to expand into more European countries later this year. Read more

Virginia Selects Vestwell to power state-mandated retirement program, RetirePath Virginia - The partnership will provide Virginians with access to a workplace retirement plan through their employer and marks Vestwell’s fifth selection to administer state-facilitated retirement programs. Once all state programs are live, Vestwell is expected to power over three million savers. Read more

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Where QVC is still way ahead of Amazon - Amazon, Facebook, TikTok and a growing number of venture-backed startups are all seeking to replicate QVC's success selling stuff via live demos and time-pressured promotions. But the original home shopping is still way ahead—for now. Read more

Why China’s influencers are losing their influence - China's change of heart about influencers provides an interesting case study for what could happen if livestreaming e-commerce, still in its early stages of growth in the U.S, picks up steam. In China, McKinsey estimates that the value of livestreaming e-commerce will reach $423b this year from almost nothing in 2017. But the phenomenon—essentially an online version of QVC—is in its early phases of growth in the U.S., where influencers largely make money from advertising and sponsored posts and videos on social platforms. Read more

Lessons from China’s creator economy; YouTuber Caryn Marjorie on YouTube’s waning influence - In China, local and international brands have generated billions of dollars in sales through celebrity influencers’ livestreaming channels, which promote consumer products on apps like Alibaba, Douyin and Kuaishou. But using influencers to spread the word comes at a high cost. The biggest livestreaming stars charge commissions of 20% or more. Read more

Industry News

Crypto executives pour influx of cash into US political candidates - Political donations from people working in digital assets surged to more than $26 million during 2021 and the first three months of this year. That influx of cash is outpacing spending by internet giants, drug makers and the defense industry -- providing a fresh pool of financing for candidates heading into November’s congressional elections. Read more

High energy bills and inflation raise challenges on BNPL consumer repayments - The BNPL sector’s business model is under intense pressure. High energy and household prices are causing consumers to tighten their budgets, hitting overall spending but also heightening concerns that people using buy now, pay later will be less able to maintain payments. At the same time rising interest rates threaten to push up operating costs and allegations of insufficient transparency about debt and fees risks provoking a regulatory backlash. Read more

Affirm teams up with Stripe as the BNPL wars intensify - The deal is significant for Affirm because Stripe has “millions” of customers. It processes hundreds of billions of dollars each year for “every size of business — from startups to Fortune 500s.” And this gives Affirm an opportunity to generate more revenue as it makes money in part on interest fees. For its part, Stripe is able to offer prospective, and current, customers more payment flexibility. Read more

UK credit card borrowing soars by most since 2005 as cost-of-living squeeze tightens - The BoE said credit card borrowing was 11.6% higher than in April 2021, marking the biggest increase since November 2005. Households were hit last month by a double whammy of surging energy costs and higher taxes. The hit to disposable income - likely the worst since modern records began in the mid-1950s - means Britain is at risk of entering recession later this year. Read more

Goldman Sachs reportedly eyes crypto derivatives markets with FTX integration - FTX.US, the U.S. subsidiary of global cryptocurrency exchange FTX is currently seeking to offer brokerage services for its derivatives offerings. This would allow the crypto exchange to handle the collateral and margin requirements internally rather than depending on “futures commission merchants” (FCMs). Read more

Klarna intros physical Visa card with issuing platform Marqeta - The card, which is available in the U.S., will allow consumers to pay for purchases interest-free over four installments, either in-store or online. Read more

New York Senate votes for bitcoin mining moratorium - The New York State Senate has passed a bill establishing a moratorium on cryptocurrency mining using carbon-based power sources. Read more

Bank of England to rescue collapsing stablecoin issuers—if they’re big enough - The British government proposes to amend the UK’s Financial Market Infrastructure Special Administration Regime to bring crypto within the jurisdiction of the British central bank while giving the institution the reins in the event of a collapsing stablecoin -- should the bank decide that a stablecoin issuer “has reached systemic scale fail.” Read more

Square working with Apple to enable Tap to Pay on iPhones within POS - Tap to Pay on iPhone utilizes Apple’s contactless payment acceptance capability within the Square point of sale (POS) app. Sellers of all sizes will be able to use the tool to take in-person contactless payments using just an iPhone and Square’s POS app. Read more

Select Financings

Acrisure - Michigan based insurance broker raised $725m in Series B-2 funding led by ADIA. Read more

Cloudwall Capital - New York based digital asset risk management company raised $6.3m in Seed funding led by LocalGlobe and Illuminate Financial. Read more

Dework - Sweden based work platform for DAOs raised $5m in Seed funding led by Paradigm. Read more

Foxen - Ohio based property management fintech company raised $44m in Series A funding led by Summit Partners. Read more

HitPay - Singapore based SME payments and software maker raised $15.8m in Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Hourly.io - Palo Alto based startup building an app that tracks working hours and generates payroll and workers’ comp insurance raised $27m in Seed funding led by Glilot Capital Partners. Read more

Incognia - Palo Alto based mobile fraud detection platform raised $15.5m in Series A funding led by Point72 Ventures. Read more

InfStones - Palo Alto based web3 infrastructure startup raised $66m in Series C funding led by SoftBank and GGV Capital. Read more

Kapaga - London based cross-border payments startup raised £1.5m in Seed funding led by Target Global. Read more

Kroo - London based neobank raised £26m in Series B funding from an undisclosed group of investors. Read more

Liminal - Singapore based digital wallet startup raised $4.7m in Seed funding led by Elevation Capital. Read more

Merge - London based crypto payments company raised $9.5m in Seed funding led by Octopus Ventures. Read more

Slice - India based digital credit card provider raised $50m in Series C funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Tandym - Chicago based private-label credit card company raised $10m in Seed funding led by Gradient Ventures. Read more


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