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Archive for November, 2010

Sudden hotness: Social + E-commerce = Social Commerce

Amazing how hot the juncture between e-commerce and social networking has gotten. It’s simple, really. E-commerce is eating into the overall retail segment. And, marketers go where the crowds are. Right now those crowds are not on AOL or WPIX (except for this page about Victoria’s Secret). They’re on Facebook and Twitter.

I remember having some very heated dialogue over using ‘social commerce’ as a thought leadership position within the corporate PR program at eBay about 3+ years ago.  I don’t recall what side of the argument I was on, but needless to say, despite the PR agency’s best efforts (you know who you are) to make it real, it took a Joe Pesci pen to the neck (Nicky in Casino) and never saw the light of day.

Until now.

Sudden hotness has arrived in that kink of a place where social and commerce are meeting.

After CyberMonday all the rumors were about Google to buy Groupon for $2.5 billion (Kara Swisher reports the offer is $5.3 billion). A colleague of mine asked if they’d call it Goopon? Heck, for that mountain of money, they can sponsor the TSA and rename it Gropeon. Today, Payvment announced a $6 million round of venture financing. In recent weeks Facebook has launched Deals to sit on top of its Places product. And, all you need to do is do a Twitter search for #CyberMonday to see how much traction commerce gets on Twitter.

So, while TechCrunch ponders if Amazon missed the boat on social commerce the reality is we all did. Or we would’ve called Nicky and his pen off back in 2007, created a Moto RAZR app for surfing the Urban Outfitters page on Facebook and retired on Black Friday 2009 on the speculation that Google was going to buy it.

Lesson of the day: A lot of the time the PR firm is right.

Update 1:  Dec. 2: Groupon: In the days since Mashable posted the Google buys Groupon rumor, most of the banter has been about how sexy the deal is. Rumors about M&A are dead sexy and dramatic. But we all know that most deals don’t work. And the honeymoon usually ends quickly once the hot company gets ingested.  I’m just happy someone is giving some sound analysis to this deal before it gets done.  Thanks, Sucharita.

Update 2: Dec. 3: Milo.com: Having worked with eBay Classifieds Group before and while classifieds was being integrated into the eBay.com marketplace, I find this $75 million deal to buy Milo.com…fascinating. I have to figure it out in light of all the above, eBay’s constant refrain about mobile as well as it’s M&A history. More later.

-Jose Mallabo

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Dog sits on cat.

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Update: “Social Networking is a Stupid Fad”

Brian Womack at Bloomberg just pointed out what everyone in the Valley and technology have known for some time: Social networks are more valuable than many of the Web 1.0 companies that have come to be household names over the past decade.

Facebook valuation hits $41 billion. Say it a couple of times and let that sink in. Combined with secondary market valuations of Twitter and LinkedIn, the Big 3 social networks are worth more than $46 billion — that’s some serious coin considering all of these companies are about 10 years newer than the watch I’m wearing right now. (Note to self: buy new watch.)

Greenspan made his infamous irrational exuberance speech just after I launched a start up .com. Thanks for that.

To my post from the other day: “so what, who cares?” remains the refrain from many people around the world who stand on the sidelines and scoff at such lofty valuations and the utility of being social. Rational or irrational. Call Alan Greenspan because the exuberance is there. And when that kind of exuberance exists from the capital markets, things change. Big things. Think the Bull Market of the late 90s. The U.S. housing market from the same period. Justin Bieber right now.

Nevermind what Facebook has done in terms of surpassing eBay or Yahoo! valuation.  Look at it compared to iconic brands that have been around for generations. Its worth three times more than Xerox. Forty times more than Kodak. And, if you look at Facebook purely as a medium through which to reach consumers (like a newspaper) it absolutely humbles what is the greatest institution in journalism: the Wall Street Journal — which Rupert Murdoch bought for a skim-milk price of $5.6 billion in 2007.

Maybe social networking is the alternate reality. But, what if it’s not?

- Jose Mallabo

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“Social Networking is a Stupid Fad!”

I hear that sentiment a lot since leaving Silicon Valley.

It’s a refrain that reminds me of the woman on the bus in New York who scolded me with her eyes for answering my Motorola StarTAC — a decade ago. She’s probably tuning her TV with bunny ears now. I get it — not everyone will get on the bandwagon.  Cable TV in the US still doesn’t have 100% penetration.  But –

Note the price: $1,000 in 1996.

– at some point quantity does become quality. Breadth and depth of use changes the nature or quality of something — and in this case it’s social networking and everything it touches.

A lot of people will never network online, let alone write a blog about it.  Having worked at eBay and LinkedIn and now sitting in an e-commerce company whose clients are pushing hard into social media, it’s easy to say that this is not going anywhere.  It’s becoming the way people and companies communicate with each other. If anything the term “social networking” may be passe.  The breadth of adoption and use cases for it may have blown by the term two or three months ago.

It’s not just about discovering where old friends and colleagues are anymore.  It’s about exchanging ideas, knowledge, working collaboratively and even transacting commerce.

That my technology loathing friends is a marketplaceMarketplaces are the basis of communities, cities and dare I say empires.  Google: “Roman Empire” or “Dutch trading” to prove me right. Remember it was New Amsterdam before the English said otherwise.

The big 3 networks (sound familiar?) are quickly replacing the phone, TV and soon the mall. If you don’t think that possibility is compelling. . . go home and tear the telephone out of the wall, dump the HD-TV in the pool and move to the plains.

I’ll be here in my marketplace.

- Jose Mallabo

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