Archive for the ‘ebay experience’ tag
Zaarly, a mobile marketplace, announced today Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman (pictured below, right) is joining its board of directors, along with a $14 million investment led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
“I just love her,” said Bo Fishback (pictured left), co-founder and chief executive of Zaarly, in an interview with VentureBeat. “She built the biggest peer-to-peer marketplace on the planet Earth… I just know she’s going to make me a better CEO.”
Meg Whitman has seen her ups and downs, from joining online marketplace eBay as chief executive when the company was just 30 employees, to running an unsuccessful campaign for governor of California, to last month joining HP as chief executive. Zaarly, at just 30 employees itself, sees a big opportunity to learn from the woman to who Fishback credits the success of eBay.
Zaarly started six months ago as the “mobile Craigslist.” Zaarly focuses on the buyer, allowing people with the Zaarly app to upload what they want, what they will pay for it and the amount of time they need it in. For example, you can “Zaarly” a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, you will pay $10 and you need it in two hours.
“We’re at the intersection of Craigslist, eBay, and a lot of market places that don’t exist but should,” said Fishback.
That’s where Whitman and her eBay experience come into play.
But in the midst of reviving a major technology player after an equally major pivot — potentially spinning off its PC arm — you would think Whitman had a little too much on her plate. Fishback, who didn’t even know HP was a thought in Whitman’s mind, was also concerned upon hearing the news. He e-mailed her the day of her announcement, wondering what this meant for Zaarly. Whitman replied within 20 minutes that she was canceling everything on her plate to focus — except Zaarly.
“When I call her on a Saturday, she answers every time,” said Fishback of Whitman’s availability.
So how does a 6 month old startup with a $1 million angel round under its belt meet people like Meg Whitman? By having a compelling enough product to get you in the door of well known venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Fishback recalled sitting across the table from Whitman, who is a strategic advisor at the venture firm, after having entertained dozens of VCs before receiving Kleiner’s call. She was very receptive and wanted to move on Zaarly right away.
Zaarly obviously intends to expand and become more competitive with the $14 million from Kleiner. For Fishback, it’s obvious that Zaarly is going to take Craig’s List head on, a company from which Zaarly was recently accused of poaching visitors. It will do so with security enhancements for the nearly $7 million purchases it has fueled thus far.
First out of the security door will be a verification option for those Zaarly users who want to prove they are trustworthy. You will be able to verify a number of things, including your e-mail address and Facebook account, while still remaining anonymous. Next, Zaarly will roll out buyer and seller reviews, in which Whitman will be directly involved.
In terms of how the company is doing financially, Fishback was reserved.
“With marketplaces like this, there are 50 different ways to monetize them,” said Fishback, who mentioned the company does take a transaction fee for all purchases made with credit cards over the service.
“We love Square, they’re just doing a beautiful job on execution,” he said while also mentioning the global draws of PayPal and the “slick” qualities to AmEx’s new mobile payments service Serve. Currently the company uses Y Combinator alum PoundPay.
As for the future, Zaarly wants to be a bright spot on Whitman’s radar, especially as mobile payments comes into play. The company still has that new startup smell, and is thinking optimistically for its new relationship with Whitman.
“I hope we’re the single most fun thing she gets to work on.”
[Photo courtesy of Meg Whitman for Governor/Flickr]