Societies are defined by their markets. What people value, what they actually buy, how they transact and who they purchase from determine not just the goods in their possession, but the very society and culture they construct. It might seem that after thousands of years of evolution and refinement, concepts like quality, authenticity, value and price would be static. Nothing could be further from the truth.
StockX is a unique company at the nexus of two radical transitions that isn’t just redefining markets, but our culture as well. E-commerce upended markets, diminishing the physical experience by intermediating and aggregating buyers and sellers through digital platforms. At the same time, the internet created rapid new communication channels, allowing euphoria and desire to ricochet across society in a matter of seconds. In a world of plenty, some things are rare, and the hype around that rarity has never been greater. Together, these two trends demanded a stock market of hype, an opportunity that StockX has aggressively pursued.
It’s a foundational new category of market — and a lucrative one. Now valued at $2.8 billion, StockX has facilitated over 10 million transactions. Its online-only marketplace is used for buying and selling sneakers, streetwear, electronics, collectibles, handbags and watches that are primarily sneaker and streetwear culture-adjacent, are in high demand and only available in low quantities. Sellers post their asking price and buyers share the price they want to pay anonymously. The platform makes all transactional data completely available to anyone that visits the site, and it authenticates every product by hand, acting as a safeguarded, price-regulating middleman.
It’s Amazon, but not exactly. It’s an auction, but not really. It conveys values like a stock market, but unlike the New York Stock Exchange, the company is defined less by financial instruments than its method of connecting buyers and sellers. It’s a local store with vetted products, but online and global. In short, it’s a unique marketplace that requires careful analysis of not just the cultural context it operates in, but the economics and incentives of the players on both sides.
TechCrunch’s writer and analyst for this EC-1 is Rae Witte. She has written extensively on technology, business and culture for publications like TechCrunch as well as the Wall Street Journal, Vogue Business and our corporate sister publication Engadget. She’s followed the rise of StockX since nearly its founding, and is in a lead position to tell this nuanced story. The lead editor for this package was Danny Crichton, the assistant editor was William E. Ketchum III, the copy editor was Richard Dal Porto and illustrations were created by Nigel Sussman.
StockX had no say in the content of this analysis and did not get advance access to it. Witte has no financial ties to StockX or other conflicts of interest to disclose.
The StockX EC-1 comprises four main articles numbering 11,700 words and a reading time of 47 minutes. Let’s take a look:
- Part 1: Origin story “How StockX became the stock market of hype” (2,500 words / 10 minute reading time) — Investigates how StockX evolved from a basic aggregation of price data into the multibillion dollar juggernaut we see today.
- Part 2: E-commerce authentication “Authentication and StockX’s global arms race against fraudsters” (3,700 words / 15 minute reading time) — A deeply nuanced analysis of StockX’s key product of authentication and the challenges of building a trusted market against an onslaught of scammers heavily incentivized to get a fake good sold.
- Part 3: Competitive and consumer landscape “Where StockX fits in the business of sneakers” (2,800 words / 11 minute reading time) — Explores how the company connected buyers and sellers, as well as its long-term impact on both groups.
- Part 4: Future and impact “The consequences of scaling up sneaker culture” (2,700 words / 11 minute reading time) — Looks at how StockX and the changes it has wrought have led to a massive change in the culture of sneakers and what that portends long term.
We’re always iterating on the EC-1 format. If you have questions, comments or ideas, please send an email to TechCrunch Managing Editor Danny Crichton at [email protected].