I have repeatedly spoken about Billion Dollar Unicorns who have entered the club due to the frenzied investments by VCs who partake in initial funding rounds at spectacular valuations. Some of these companies are not able to address the expectation of a public company and implode when listed on the stock exchanges. One such instance is that of niche e-commerce player Etsy (NASDAQ: ETSY), which appears to be stuck in a bit of a rut. Recent disappointing quarterly results accompanied with continuing absence of profits had sent the stock tumbling to below list price levels. As competition in the niche space increases, Etsy will have tougher battles to fight in the next few months.
Billion Dollar Unicorn club member and online niche flash sales site Zulily (Nasdaq: ZU) appears to be making a slow turnaround according to recent quarter results. The stock’s performance has been rather weak of late and it had entered the list of the Wall Street’s worst performing stocks for 2015 after having dropped 47% during the year. Their recent moves suggest that things may improve in the future.
A short discussion on how marketing and sales technologies are evolving.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as to your company.
Carol O’Kelley: Thanks for having me. I’m the CEO of Salesfusion. I joined the company earlier this year after having spent most of my career in technology, marketing, and operations. I’ve done a number of very small entrepreneurial things – everything from being the 34th employee at Retek, which was ultimately acquired by Oracle to starting and managing a self-storage business. I’ve also worked at larger companies like Red Prairie and Oracle. I’m passionate about technology. I love the pace of this business.
Sramana Mitra: Where are you based?
Carol O’Kelley: I’m based in Atlanta, Georgia. >>>
Last year, Chinese e-tail giant Alibaba went public on the New York Stock exchange. Alibaba has been the role model of several e-commerce companies. One of their avid followers, India-based Flipkart, is now eyeing an IPO in the US markets as well. The company is already seeing strong growth in its valuation driven by the growing e-commerce market in India. Gartner expects the Indian e-commerce market to grow 70% this year and Morgan Stanley estimates the Indian market to grow to $137 billion by the year 2020.
In our continued coverage of e-commerce entrepreneurs and their broadening horizons of online user experiences, this post focuses on Etsy’s post-IPO journey.
Earlier I spoke about how the VC funding frenzy has resulted in astronomical valuations for companies making it difficult for them to maintain these valuations if and when they go public. Niche e-commerce player and Billion Dollar Unicorn club member Etsy (NASDAQ: ETSY) is one such player who has seen valuations fluctuate since they went public.
We’re always impressed by entrepreneurs who manage to build sizeable companies without outside capital. Read how Cleverbridge has maneuvered to $40 million in revenue and doesn’t want to deal with venture capital and private equity.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What kind of background?
Christian Blume: I was born in Cologne, Germany. I moved over to the US when I was seven years old. I stayed for two years in Detroit. Then, I moved back to Germany again for a couple of years. When I was 15, I moved to London and did my International Baccalaureate over there. Then I moved back to Germany again and did my apprenticeship as a car mechanic. I then went to study Economics and went to an asset management company based out of Frankfurt, which was addressing high net worth individuals who needed investment opportunities. >>>
This interview delves into a somewhat obscure aspect of e-commerce: margin optimization through non-core product recommendations. Quite an interesting subject in its own right.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with some context about yourself as well as the company.
Bob Dufour: My background is in a couple of different disciplines—statistics and analytics, direct marketing, and psychology. That’s my background and that’s how I put these all together in a company like Fusion, which was started in 2007. Our go-to market strategy is in digital optimization. What do I mean by that? We were formed in 2007 and had our launch with our first client in November of 2007. What we did at that point was we were this intermediary company that sat in between companies that had products to sell through a digital media and distributors that had customers interacting through a digital media. We sat in the middle and did real-time recommendations and real-time optimization. That was how we got started. >>>
The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce recently reported the fourth quarter retail e-commerce sales for the US. E-commerce sales during the quarter are estimated to have grown 2.3% over the year to $79.6 billion and accounted for 6.7% of total retail sales. For the full year 2014, e-commerce sales increased 15% to $304.9 billion and accounted for 6.5% of retail sales compared to 5.8% in 2013. Billion Dollar Unicorn club member JustFab.com is a fast-growing member among e-tailing vendors.
Borderfree provides tools to help move e-commerce to its next phase: going global. Read on!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to you a little bit as well as all your different e-commerce-related experience so we can set the context for the conversation.
Brian Dhatt: I’m the CTO at Borderfree. That means I’m responsible for our product and product strategy. We are based in New York City and we have offices around the world in Dublin, Ireland as well as in Tel Aviv, Israel. From a path perspective, I came from Gilt Groupe. I led product, engineering, and creatives for Gilt City.
Prior to that, I co-founded POPSUGAR, which is a content commerce company based in San Francisco. We founded that back in 2006 and we were Sequoia-funded. >>>
Price personalization has been touted as the holy grail of e-commerce. This conversation brings to light the state of the union in the domain of price optimization, price intelligence, and price personalization.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by setting some context for our audience of what Profitero does and what your background is.
Keith Anderson: Profitero was founded in 2010 in Dublin, Ireland by former IBM and Google software engineers. Sometimes people ask why the company was founded in Ireland and not in Silicon Valley. Dublin has established itself as a European technology hub. Our founders live there. We’re backed by Polaris Partners, which has offices both in Boston as well as in Dublin where we’re headquartered. We now have offices in Dublin, London, Boston, San Diego, Belarus, and Minsk. We’ll shortly open offices in Asia and other parts of Latin America this year. >>>