I finally did it. Earlier in the week I noticed that Wikipedia didn’t have a page for social commerce, so I tried to create one. 30+mins into it, IE 7.0.5730.11 crashed (too many tabs open) and I lost my work. No, I had not saved a draft. Yes, I should have used Firefox, as someone reminded me today. I switch between both browsers and had just happened to open IE then. Bad luck.
On the social networking panel at the MIT VC Conference today I talked a fair bit about social commerce and why I think it’s a trend worth watching. The concept resonated with panelists and the audience so I had no choice but to get back to Wikipedia and finish the job. Here is the social commerce page. Please, add more content/links.
Update: Well, despite the fact that to my knowledge at least 5-6 people contributed to the page and the content was starting to look pretty good, we weren’t able to defeat the Wikipedia bots–they auto-deleted the page, probably due to lack of references. Hard to have references to a new concept… It didn’t help that during that period I had to do a lot of travel and so had limited time to contribute. How about this–put some content in comments to this post and then I’ll try again early next year.
Social commerce is not new. Tupperware parties and other multi-level marketing schemes are all examples of social commerce but so are emerging models of selling & recommendation through social networks.
A couple of weeks ago I had lunch in NYC with an ex-IAC exec who knows more about online businesses and e-commerce than I can ever hope to learn. We were talking about areas that we find interesting and somehow social commerce came up. The discussion that followed was fast and enlightening. I guess we ended up agreeing on two things: (a) the concept of social commerce is sound and eventually, it will be a meaningful part of e-commerce and (b) many of the initial attempts at social commerce will be terrible failures.
Still, I believe in the ability of markets to evolve solutions to problems. From an investment standpoint, this means that I’m looking for highly iterative (hypothesize-test-adjust) capital-efficient businesses to try out specific social commerce ideas and platforms that can enable others to experiment. Both Allurent and 8th Ring have a role to play in the latter category.