Today, Packagd — a new platform fueling commerce through mobile video — is launching out of stealth with the introduction of its first app, Unboxed, which offers curated, hosted shows of the hottest tech products, gadgets, and devices. Incubated at KPCB by founding CTO of Hulu and former Flipboard CTO Eric Feng, Packagd is also announcing a $6 million Series A investment led by Forerunner Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures), bringing the company’s total funding to $7.5 million following its initial seed round which was led by KPCB.
“Our vision for Packagd has evolved over the last 10 years, inspired by how ‘commerce as entertainment’ helped traditional players like HSN and QVC build multi-billion dollar empires during the TV era,” said Feng, co-founder and CEO of Packagd and general partner at KPCB. “Using video to drive commerce is not a new concept, but Packagd has the opportunity to bring this user experience to a new generation of mobile consumers.”
The unboxing phenomenon, led by a robust community of content creators producing product review and how-to videos for online audiences, has shown a meteoric rise in recent years, with an estimated 10 billion unboxing video views a month worldwide. Google also found that 62% of people who watch unboxing videos are researching a potential purchase.
While the unboxing trend is entrenched in digital culture, Packagd is the first to take advantage of the underlying retail opportunity left vacant by a disjointed shopping experience for the consumer. Built on the core pillars of discovery, community, and commerce, Packagd’s apps feature expert-curated shows, enabling consumers to discover new products with authentic reviews, interact with hosts and audiences through a live chat, and buy products securely via Apple Pay, all within the app.
Packagd also works with a trusted network of content creators who curate and host programs that allow them to receive affiliate revenue generated from the purchases of products featured on the shows they host. The platform will offer content creators greater engagement with viewers through live chat and Q&A, helping to build deeper loyalty with their fans.
“The overall retail industry is experiencing a seismic change as the consumer redefines the path to purchase. With the increasing consumption of video, particularly on mobile devices, we see meaningful opportunity for a video-inspired commerce experience,” said Kirsten Green, founder of Forerunner Ventures. “Packagd’s apps have the ability to redefine the mobile shopping industry, combining the best aspects of YouTube with Facebook’s live social interactions and Amazon’s effortless shopping experience in one platform for consumers.”
“There’s a pretty clear trend of people, and young people in particular, gravitating towards the influencers they trust when it comes to making buying decisions. This will have profound ramifications in commerce going forward and it’s right where Packagd is aiming to play,” said M.G. Siegler, general partner at GV.
Packagd’s first app, Unboxed, will target a key retail vertical: technology. Unboxed will feature programming for products like smartphones, computers, gaming consoles, videogames, cameras, drones and more, leveraging a network of content creator hosts who will serve as live video moderators for the shows. At launch, Unboxed will feature popular unboxing stars with millions of social media followers such as Austin Evans, Dom Esposito, Chris Denker (DenkOps), Frank Passalacqua (randomfrankp), Kevin Nether (Kevin the Tech Ninja), Andru Edwards (Gear Live), Matt Schaefer (MS Tech), and Jervina Coston (TechMe0ut). Also, Best Buy will support users on Unboxed to purchase technology directly from the app while videos are streamed.
Unboxed will also participate as an exhibitor at E3 2017 (booth No. 2853), held at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 13 – 15. Tune in to the Unboxed E3 nightly recap shows in app from 6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. PT June 14 – 16 to be eligible to win a Nintendo Switch, DJI Spark, or Microsoft Surface Pro.*
The Packagd platform will expand into additional retail verticals, starting with beauty and toys apps launching later this year.