The cofounder of Public Market will be a familiar face to many Portland entrepreneurs. That’s because he’s been an integral part of the Portland and Oregon startup community for years. And he’s had more than his fair share of experience with eCommerce systems. The new blockchain focused startup was cofounded by none other than Monsoon cofounder Kanth Gopalpur, who serves as the Chief Strategy Officer, under the leadership of cofounder and CEO KJ Erickson.
The company’s assertion? eCommerce is broken.
In less than two decades, a handful of private eCommerce platforms have grown to account for over half of online retail sales. The exorbitant fees and commissions they charge force sellers to drive up prices, ultimately hurting consumers.
And blockchain has the potential to fix it.
The monopolist platforms we’re setting out to challenge didn’t get as big as they are for no reason. They grew so large because they solved two important problems of eCommerce: how to connect buyers and sellers, and how to protect them from bad actors. Unfortunately, their centralized approach to solving these challenges created a scenario in which, once they established network effects, they were left as the only providers of these services, free to charge ever-increasing commission rates.
The world has changed. Blockchains now allow us to return competition to key marketplace functions while still maintaining the advantages of the aggregated data that created monopolies in the first place. You can think of the Public Market protocol as a structure that keeps societally beneficial aspects of network effects, but eliminates the ability to build a monopoly on top of those network effects.
And Kanth isn’t the only Portland person leading the effort. Robin Jones is also part of the executive team, reprising her role as startup COO, a role she memorably played in helping to grow and find a successful exit for Portland startup Geoloqi.
This is definitely one of those potential David and Goliath situations. I can’t wait to see where this goes.
For more information, see the introductory post from Public Market cofounder and CEO KJ Erickson. For more on the company, visit Public Market
EXTRA CREDIT: If you’re interested in more musings on blockchain, Puppet founder Luke Kanies just posted some thoughts about the potential of the technology.
[Full disclosure: Robin and Geoloqi are PIE alums. I am the cofounder and general manager of PIE.]