31/01/2012

RESEARCH

Readable interview with Marc Andreesen, Netscape Founder and now VC. Here's a few highlights:

"Most of the people in the world still don't have a personal computer, whereas in three to five years, most people in the world will have a smartphone.... If you've got a smartphone, then I can build a business in any domain or category and serve you as a customer no matter where you are in the world in just gigantic numbers--in terms of billions of people. "

"We saw the rise of a whole category of e-commerce category killers in verticals that 5 or 10 years ago couldn't support high growth companies because the markets weren't big enough."

"I think 2012 is the year that retail--retail stores--really starts to feel the pressure....But the economic pressure is huge as e-commerce gets more and more viable and as these category killers emerge in the superverticals. If I own mall real estate or retail stores in cities, or if I own chains like electronics chains, I'd be concerned.... I think electronics and clothes are going to be a real pressure point. Home furnishing is going to come under pressure. It's going to get harder and harder to justify the retail store model. The model has this fundamental problem where every store has to have its own inventory and every store is also a warehouse. The economic deadweight of that entire inventory in each store--that's what took down Borders. Retail runs at very thin margins. So if e-commerce takes a 5 percent or 10 percent or 15 percent bite out of your category, then it becomes harder to stay in business as a retailer."

"Amazon is going to do really well and anybody with major e-commerce is going to do real well. But the new companies in e-commerce verticals are providing a very differentiating customer experience that is much more like shopping as entertainment."

"I like to say that the first generation of e-tailers was really good for nerds. Amazon for me is--I love it--it's like the biggest warehouse superstore of all time. It's just awesome, and I love wandering up and down the aisles and it's like, 'wow, look at that.' If I do enough searches I can discover anything.

The new generation of e-tailers are much more appealing to normal people--people who like to go the mall, have fun with their friends and try on clothes and compare clothes, and go home and brag to their roommate what they got on sale, and all the rest of it. A lot of new startups are not only very viable but also growing very fast because they provide a very different experience."

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