ThisNext reviewed by Erik Stuart of eBay

Bambi Francisco Roizen · January 20, 2009 · Short URL:

Will eBay incorporate social shopping into its fold?

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Startups have been creating social shopping experiences for several years. Some have had successful exits, such as Kaboodle, which sold to Hearst for $30 million in 2007. But have any really hit the ball out of the park? Erik Stuart, director of corporate strategy at eBay, scours the startup landscape as part of his job to find the next big thing in shopping. So, we were excited to have him again be our guest host for this week's Vator Box. This time we explore a startup in the social shopping space - ThisNext.

Here are some observations made on the show from me, Stuart and Ezra Roizen, Vator Box regular and digital media investment banker.

- Social shopping is another approach to recommendations. There are many ways to crowd source opinions, from Yelp to Aggregate Knowledge to Wize to TrustedOpinion. ThisNext is novel because it's building around individual product recommenders and influencers

- Social shopping is an important space. Unfortunately, it’s one of those spaces that has had a high buzz-to-progress ratio. E-commerce is one of the spaces where innovation has been low and social shopping has been viewed as the-next-big-thing savior. Yet, there has yet to be a compelling product or service to emerge

- While ThisNext is doing a great job at creating a site around product recommenders, the question is will this community resonate with a large number of users? Their traffic isn't setting the world on fire, according to Stuart

- Rather than being a destination site, ThisNext may want to focus on distributing its content across shopping sites, such as Amazon or eBay, or media sites. Clearly, Hearst's interest in Kaboodle sets a precedent, and underscores the compatibility that media sites have with commerce sites. 

- ThisNext is doing a great job giving a platform to small merchandisers. When you stroll through ThisNext it’s akin to walking down a neighborhood main street where you can see local merchants.

- There are many ways to recommend products, from collaborative filtering utilized by Netflix and Amazon, to Wish Lists, utilized by Amazon to aggregation plays and crowd-sourcing. It's unclear, which one of these  approaches dominates or is the killer solution to product recommendations

- ThisNext is not at the scale at which eBay would take a look

- ThisNext might consider scaling back expectations and instead focus on a shopping niche, like high fashion or electronics. Design a community around a small core group first, because if the teams focuses, they have a shot to be a $100 million company.

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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