Interview Transcript

What would you tell a 27-year-old, 28-year-old Sam, today, moving into that online marketplace world?

I would say, hang on for the ride; it can be pretty hectic. I would generally say, embrace the pure economics of a marketplace and the opportunity that can come with that, particularly in terms of rounding out certain skillsets from the supply and the sales side of things, to then more of the marketing and communication and merchandising side, on the demand.

Generally, focus on, how do you generate earned media, relative to a marketplace? With that, you then get the network effects. The importance of giving people stories to tell, is a very key part and if I was to give myself that same advice, it would be, go after what you’re passionate about sooner, not later. Don’t underestimate the impact that earned media can have, on building a marketplace.

An aced brand will be able to unify all of its stakeholders, with just that one story which is about, how do you bring everyone together, and it’s got to be authentic. The tech piece is, data, it’s scale but, also, how do you take the technology and have it connect emotionally, with the community? Then the community piece, itself, means that you’re aligning. Community can be your biggest strength; it can also be your biggest weakness. I think it almost became one of the biggest weaknesses, at eBay, where the seller community, they would rally against eBay, around fees and other things along those lines. Again, to be community driven, are those incentives aligned around customers, investors and employees alike?

The purpose piece is more around, where is the purpose aligned? These four things have sort of come out of eBay and there have been times when Airbnb hasn’t done these things well but, for the most part, they have. By doing that, they’ve created the most valuable accommodation business in the world. There are other examples, like from a purpose led point of view, I think Unilever, if you’re not doing good for the world and you’re a brand at Unilever, Unilever is divesting them. Patagonia have said that they won’t make fleece for tech companies now, unless you’re a B Corp. There are a variety of things you see, where businesses are actually standing behind what they say they are, from that purpose led point of view.

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