EBay and the marketplace of ideas

To survive, traditional news organizations need to figure out how to become real marketplaces of ideas, not just part of a metaphoric one. Ebay is not be a terrible model to riff on as they try to figure it out.

Fashion apps Pinterize the real world to drive in-store sales

Pinterest, Fancy and plenty of other websites help shoppers find deals and inspiration for clothing they can buy online, but some early startups are developing mobile apps that encourage shoppers to make their fashion purchases in stores.

The local farmstand goes online with pilot launch of GoodEggs

Starting Thursday, San Francisco-based GoodEggs is piloting the launch of its online marketplace that lets farmers, ranchers, bakers and other foodmakers sell produce, meat, baked goods and other locally-sourced food products directly to people in their communities.

SAP buys Ariba and its online marketplace for $4.3B

Enterprise software giant SAP is buying Ariba in a $4.3 billion move that will give it control of what may be world’s largest online marketplace. Businesses worldwide use Ariba’s e-commerce and procurement services to buy and sell all sorts of goods and services.

Chicago’s new incubator Catapult stocks up on startups

The Windy City is famous for one big giant startup Groupon, but the folks at Chicago’s newest incubator Catapult believe there will be many more, and — for a short while at least — it hopes to play host to the next big Web sensations from the Midwest.

Fab.com makes first acquisition: indie market FashionStake

Online design store Fab.com is just seven months old, but it’s showing all kinds of momentum, racking up 1.65 million users and 750,000 items sold so far. Now, the company is making its first acquisition, buying up FashionStake, an online marketplace for independent fashion.

Redbeacon comes to iPhone to make good help easier to find

Redbeacon, the web marketplace that connects people with professional home service providers such as plumbers, painters, and yard workers, has launched its first native app for the iPhone(s AAPL).
The company, which lets you search for, get bids from, and ultimately book jobs with background-checked and licensed local service providers, has already seen solid growth since it was founded two years ago — but the capabilities in the iPhone app could help Redbeacon take off even more. The biggest new perk of the app is it lets people shoot videos, take photos or record voice memos when requesting home services; this makes it easier for consumers to show potential contractors what specifically they need done, and it saves contractors’ time in assessing job prices.

Redbeacon for iPhone screenshot (click to enlarge)

Mobile move is a ‘game-changer’

Redbeacon has already been testing its users’ appetite for mobile apps in a way, the company’s co-founder and president Yaron Binur said in an interview this week. Two months ago, Redbeacon rolled out a mobile web app strictly for service providers that works on all phone platforms, and since then more than 30 percent of the platform’s project bids have come from a service provider on the mobile app. The company expects to see a similarly strong response with its consumer app.
Binur put it this way: “We think it’s a real game changer for us. It’s hard to explain exactly what your yard looks like, or what your carpet looks like. And for providers, they’d rather not have to waste their time to come on-site to provide an estimate of how much a job should cost. The photo and video changes all that.”
The new consumer app is launching only on iOS because the majority of Redbeacon’s user base has an iPhone, Binur said. Down the line, the company will probably launch an Android (s goog) app as well.

Competition from TaskRabbit? Not quite

The service-oriented online marketplace has heated up in recent months, with companies like TaskRabbit and Zaarly garnering attention and venture backing. Binur says that Redbeacon is different from those kinds of startups since it is focused solely on the licensed service professional market. “They’re creating a brand new category, convincing consumers to contract someone else to do something that they may have done on their own previously,” said Binur. “This is an established market for a certain kind of job for your home. We don’t have to convince people; we just need to provide a better experience.”
It’s a fair point. And so far, Redbeacon’s somewhat narrowly focused strategy has proved fruitful: Redbeacon is now live in eight metro areas in the United States, and is currently seeing month-over-month growth rates of 80 to 85 percent, Binur said. Redbeacon is backed with $7.4 million in venture capital and it makes money by taking a small percentage of each completed service transaction it facilitates. Overall, I think it’s a solid approach because it provides benefits and empowerment to both the consumer and the service provider — and the mobile debut seems to have the right elements to make the process even better.
Here are a few more screenshots of Redbeacon for iPhone (click to enlarge):

Meet Copious, the eBay for a social world

In the web’s most popular marketplaces, such as eBay and Craigslist, anonymity is still the norm. A new San Francisco-based startup called Copious is looking to change that. Copious has built an online marketplace in which all buyers and sellers are linked to their Facebook identities.