In the wake of the Pinterest round valuing the company at $1.5B from the Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten, it is hard not to notice that social and ecommerce have become inextricably linked in a way that is on the minds of some of the leading innovators on the Internet.
At Point Judith, we are very excited about the opportunity to fund entrepreneurs who are building social ecommerce sites that provide seamless social integration and leverage to their users. We were investors in Multiply, which is the largest social ecommerce platform in SE Asia and was acquired by Naspers (a $20B global ecommerce player). We also recently led the Seed round for Kitsy Lane, which has already launched a very exciting social shopping platform that gives women a way to start their own online boutique and sell items they love (jewelry, accessories) to their friends by leveraging their Facebook social graph, their Twitter followers and their Pinterest followers. In each of these cases, the site was built to serve the needs of the consumer who wants to buy and sell with their friends in a socially fun and efficient way.
Certainly social ecommerce is not new; Gilt, Rue La La, Ideeli, and Rent the Runway utilized social dynamics, especially among women, to acquire more users and build their user lists of members through invitations and referrals. However, shopping platforms that put the social experience at the center of the offering are new evolutions in the landscape and the efforts of Pinterest and Kitsylane, alike, are exciting to watch.
Ecommerce in general is still a vast, untapped market opportunity and I am not the first investor to note this; Ron Conway recently made a very strong case for the enormous upside in the market given the low single digit levels of commerce transacted online and he clearly had a vision for the area with his Pinterest investment.
New York and Boston have an extraordinarily deep well of talent and expertise in the area of ecommerce, including a number of the companies I listed above plus Vistaprint, Gazelle, Wayfair, Karmaloop, and many more. It is exciting to see the new ideas from the innovative entrepreneurs in these markets as they build the next social ecommerce wave of success.