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Understanding Vertical Marketplace Innovation

By Guimar Vaca Sittic It’s already common knowledge that the latest wave of marketplaces are vertical plays attacking horizontal behemoths like eBay or Craigslist. Disruptive online marketplaces not only connect demand and supply but enhance the experience in a way others can’t. Vertical marketplaces provide such enhancing dynamics that give them a comparative advantage versus horizontal ones. The problem is that not all vertical marketplaces are equally disruptive or defensible. It’s important not to confuse the attack of a vertical which refers to a specific segment of the economy (e.g. cars, books, food,etc) versus a verticalized business model which refers… Read More

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Asset prices are more sensitive to very low interest rates than most suspect

Global interest rates are now at historical lows. Conversely we are seeing record prices for asset prices be they share prices of listed companies, privately held Internet startups, art, collectible cars or real estate. The theoretical value of an asset is the net present value of the discounted future cash flows it can generate. The lower the acceptable internal rate of return (IRR) an investor accepts, the less future cash flows are discounted and the greater an asset can be valued. The impact of the decrease in interest rate by central banks on asset prices has a time lag. When… Read More

2015 Venture Investing Update

It’s been a while since I posted a missive on our venture investments and I felt it was long overdue given the fundamental changes we’ve made to our strategy. We are now investors in a mind-boggling 182 startups! We had 56 exits, 26 successful and 30 unsuccessful with an average exit multiple of 5.5x. We’ve also been on fire of late with the IPO of Alibaba Group and Lending Club, the exits of Brightroll and Sunrise and several of our seed investments passing the billion dollar valuation mark like Delivery… Read More

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Update on The Very Big Downgrade

When people successfully sell their company, they typically acquire stuff.  Instead I gave up my house, apartment and car and gave most of my material possessions (furniture, clothes, books, etc.) to charity in December 2012. It was my Very Big Downgrade.  Two years in, it’s time to take stock of what happened, especially since it has not gone entirely as expected. When I decided on my Very Big Downgrade, I felt my possessions were anchoring me, keeping me away from the important relationships in my life. I was spending so much money and time maintaining my place in… Read More

Infrastructure for Marketplaces: The Shovels and Picks of the End-to-End Marketplace Gold Rush!

by Guimar Vaca Sittic Building marketplaces is really hard. The hardest nut to crack is building liquidity: having a critical mass of buyers and sellers. One of the main reasons marketplaces fail is that they don’t live up to the expectations of their buyers, and consequently, of their sellers. Buyers typically not only expect the type of quality of service to be comparable to that of an Amazon or Zappos, but also, they are unaware that the service in a marketplace is provided by a third party rather than by the company itself. Given these high… Read More

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One Step Closer To Streamlining the Car Buying and Selling Process

As an entrepreneur and investor, I am fortunate enough to collaborate with startups on a regular basis, learning about their ambitions and plans to shake up their respective industries. In my previous blog post, The used car buying and selling process is broken and we are going to fix it!, I discussed how one of the startups I work with, Beepi, is streamlining the process of buying and selling cars by removing the labor and hassle for the consumer – with the click of a mouse. Less than five months since launching, Beepi has surpassed all… Read More

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The used car buying and selling process is broken and we are going to fix it!

The used car industry is massive. There are 40 million used cars sold per year in the US representing $320 billion in value and $70 billion in industry revenues. The average household buys a $8,000 used car every 3 years. This is the second largest household expenditure after housing. Given how massive the industry is, it’s shocking how awful the used car buying and selling process is. To sell a car online, owners have to endure the pain of taking pictures, describing their car and posting them on Craigslist, eBay Motors or Auto Trader. They have to receive people at their… Read More

Recommendations for Craigslist

As you can see from my article on The Evolution of Marketplaces, Craigslist is facing a great unbundling. Startups are attacking Craigslist category by category by offering a better user experience in a safer environment. They are successfully taking share from Craigslist despite the fact that they charge and that Craigslist is free. Moreover, by not addressing a few fundamental issues, Craigslist is failing in its stated mission of providing a free public service to the community. All that said Craigslist has tremendous strengths. The site still has extraordinary liquidity and strong network effects. Despite being out of… Read More

Fantastic article on how to build trust in modern marketplaces to achieve liquidity

Anand Iyer, the Chief Product Officer of Threadflip, just wrote a thoughtful blog post on how to build liquidity in modern marketplaces. In short: Create a managed environment Have an actionable rating systems Carefully curate content Have a human touch, but keep learning Focus on supply Invest in your interface, especially focusing on mobile and frictionless payment Provide social proof Read the full article at: http://firstround.com/article/How-Modern-Marketplaces-Like-Uber-Airbnb-Build-Trust-to-Hit-LiquidityRead More

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The Evolution of Marketplaces

In the early days of the web Craigslist’s horizontal listing based marketplace was all things to all people as speed, simplicity and liquidity were the key success factors in the market. A few vertical competitors emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s, illustrated by sites like Monster, 1stdibs and HomeAway. They typically retained a listing based business model, but offered better content quality and more sophisticated tools and search. In the mid and late 2000s, vertical sites became transactional, managing the payment process and taking a percentage of the proceeds. By closing the transaction loop their reviews also became… Read More