Investing in Ecommerce Startups
September 05, 2012

I recently spoke with Ina Steiner of ECommerceBytes about our strategy behind investing in ecommerce startups.  Below are brief highlights of the three-part series, and links to the original articles.

In part one, I discuss the rise of curated shopping– what’s working (and not working) and Amazon and Google as “ecommerce super powers.”

VC Josh Goldman Talks About Investing in Ecommerce Startups – Part One

By Ina Steiner,

August 27, 2012

If you were a venture capitalist, how would you go about investing in ecommerce startups? For Josh Goldman, General Partner at Norwest Venture Partners, a great deal of it is identifying key trends such as the rise of curated shopping, and looking for founders who have a vision and can grow and manage communities of engaged shoppers and adapt to changing conditions.

Goldman is a repeat entrepreneur himself, and in his current role, he has in-depth knowledge of how some of the most innovative ecommerce firms are operating. His current investments and board seats include Gilt Groupe, ModCloth, Quirky and WhaleShark Media (RetailMeNot), and he also holds various board and advisory roles with search, social networking and digital media companies. His first executive leadership role was in the 1990s as President and CEO of mySimon, Inc., a pioneer in online comparison shopping services, which he sold to CNet Networks in early 2000 for $703 million…

Click here to read the rest of the article.


In part two, I discuss how social ecommerce is helpful not only in the marketing sense, but also with regard to customer engagement, gross margins, inventory and new product evolutions.

Norwest Venture Partners’ Josh Goldman on Social Commerce – Part Two

By Ina Steiner,

August 28, 2012

Social Commerce – Not What We Thought It Would Be
Goldman called Gilt Groupe, Quirky, ModCloth, and WhaleShark Media ( the big portfolio companies that fit with his investment theses. “These are companies I sought out as a prediction for the kinds of companies that will be big winners and are worthy of substantial investment.”

Their focus on social is the thing that connects them, he said, but social commerce is turning out to be something very different than what it was two or three years ago when the term first started to gain traction.

“Everything that was social commerce a couple of years ago was, “we’re going to shop together and promote things to each other, recommend things to each other.”  That still exists, Goldman said, but it’s not the ultimate version of what we’re seeing in social commerce…

Click here to read the rest of the article.


In part three, I talk about using social data for recommendations and promotions, and discuss which is more important when choosing companies in which to invest – the business model, or the founder.

VC Josh Goldman Discusses Social Data in Ecommerce – Part Three

By Ina Steiner,

August 30, 2012

Who Is Doing It Right in Social Commerce?
WhaleShark Media, which people may know better as RetailMeNot is a coupon and deal site that site was built with the community supplying and recommending deals and coupons and ways to save money on shopping. Goldman said, “For me it was fascinating because I built a company in the 1.0 era, which was not at all social, it was about technology and scraping websites and algorithms to parse these things.”

RetailMeNot, which grew from a tiny team in Melbourne Australia, said, “let’s just let the community submit all this information.” Goldman said it seems so obvious now, but it was radical at the time. “You have no editors, you have no people out there curating and finding these things, and the answer is with enough motivated users, they’ll do it for you. If the design is right and the product works right”…


Click here to read the rest of the article.

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