Swipely and “Will People Do ___ Online?”
May 11, 2010
Today Swipely announced their Series A round and I’m pleased to be an investor in the company along with a great group of VCs and other angels. Put simply, Swipely’s goal is to reinvent the way we as consumers shop, share, and save. Quite clearly a BHAG but one that I believe founder Angus Davis and the rest of the Swipely team can accomplish.
When people first learn about what Swipely is doing, one of the frequent questions is “Will consumers really share info online about their purchasing behavior?” In fact, that in essence is the title of a post the WSJ did on the company today.
But the ~15yr history of the consumer web has demonstrated that many of the behaviors that at one point in time raised eyebrows often become mainstream. And the companies that disproved this skepticism over time often (though not always) have built large scale businesses.
- 15 years ago many wondered if consumers would buy stuff over the web (Amazon)
- 10+ years ago many wondered if consumers would post personal photos on the web (Shutterfly, Ofoto, et al)
- 10+ years ago many wondered who would ever use the internet to look for a job (Monster, LinkedIn, et al)
- 5 years ago many wondered if consumers (at least anyone past college age) would share virtually their every thought or action online (Facebook, Twitter)
- 1-2 years ago many wondered if consumers would share their physical location in real-time via the mobile web (maybe Foursquare, Gowalla, et al)
Skepticism is sometimes well founded, and not every early trend ultimately becomes mainstream. So consumer sharing of purchase activity or any other behavior which has yet to be proven or disproven can clearly be questioned. But I clearly believe that consumers, or at least a meaningful number of consumers, will begin doing this now or in the near future… obviously I wouldn’t have invested in a company Swipely if I didn’t hold this conviction.
More broadly, history has shown that consumer behaviors that seem novel or even unusual when they emerge on the web often have broad long run appeal and lasting enterprise value.