B2B marketplace report series: The B2B marketplace digest
Co-Founder and Co-CEO
Here at Hokodo, we’ve spent a lot of time conducting research in the world of B2B marketplaces and studying individual marketplaces ahead of publishing our series of blogs on the matter - the most recent article in The B2B Marketplace Report series can be found here.
The following collection of articles and reports provided us with a great deal of food for thought when gathering our learnings and getting our key takeaways down on paper. So, we thought it only fair that we compile and share these resources back with the community.
This compendium is organised around the following categories:
10 essential marketplace readings
The dawn and rise of B2B marketplaces
Building a marketplace business
Scaling a marketplace business
Liquidity and pricing
Marketplace network effects
Links to other reading lists on b2b marketplaces
We’ll be continuously updating this list, so don’t hesitate to point us in the direction of any other resources using the "Add a B2B marketplace resource" button below. We hope you find them as useful as we did!
1- Article:Smart marketplaces bridge the implicit and complex, TechCrunch (October 2018), 11 min read Marketplace businesses are in essence linked to the technologies that enable them. As these technologies have evolved, marketplaces have become able to facilitate increasingly complex exchanges in new environments and industries. Bart Dessaint, associate partner at Mosaic Ventures, takes a look at marketplace evolution and discusses the new era of sMarketplaces.
2- Blog: Roadmap: B2B Marketplaces, Bessemer Ventures (February 2020), 7 min read In this Roadmap, Bessemer Ventures Partners share their learnings following their B2B Summit with over 50 founders, discussing emerging trends in B2B commerce and payments.
3- Blog: Andrew Chen on Marketplaces, Stripe, (August 2019), 20 min read Andrew Chen, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz shares key considerations, crossroads, and predictions for online marketplaces.
4- Blog: How to Kickstart and Scale a Marketplace Business, Lenny's Newsletter (November 2019), 11 min read This great blog series by Lenny Rachitsky, former supply growth lead at Airbnb, summarises lessons learned from over a dozen marketplace founders, covering everything from demand generation to supply curation and other key success factors.
5- Blog: Four Paths to Marketplace Success, Andreessen Horowitz (February 2020), 8 min read Following the Marketplace 100, this article reveals that there is more than one way to build a successful marketplace. Understanding which marketplace model your company falls into is essential to navigating the path to success.
6- Blog: A Primer on B2B Marketplaces: Challenges and Opportunities, Point Nine Capital (May 2020), 8 min read In this article, Julia Morrongiello dives into some of the opportunities and challenges that this new generation of marketplaces faces, and shares her view on the future for B2B Marketplaces.
8- Blog: You Can’t Live Without Marketplaces, Battery (March 2019),3 min read Sophisticated marketplaces in a variety of markets represent some of the world’s most high-profile consumer businesses, generating a large amount of value for investors. To track this trend, Battery shares 36 of the world’s largest marketplace companies in their Marketplace Index.
9- Blog: The a16z Marketplace 100, Andreessen Horowitz (February 2020),12 min read This post ranks the 100 largest and fastest-growing consumer-facing marketplace startups and private companies.
10- Blog: The Marketplace Glossary, Andreessen Horowitz (February 2020), 9 min read Explaining marketplaces, from a conversational perspective is almost as hard as scaling them. This glossary takes the confusion out of the jargon and terminology used to describe the dynamics of these businesses, making it more accessible to founders, operators, and tech-savvy readers alike.
• Report: The Spring of B2B Marketplaces, Roland Berger (April 2017) With the development of B2B marketplaces seeing positive momentum, this report from Roland Berger explores four strategies, based on in-depth reviews of multiple B2B marketplace initiatives, that legacy players and startups consider to leverage marketplace potential.
• Report: B2B Marketplaces are blossoming, Roland Berger (June 2018) Following “The Spring of B2B Marketplaces”, this Roland Berger publication deep dives into the new and updated B2B Marketplace strategies, and the challenges that players need to overcome to be successful.
• Blog and podcast: What’s Next for Marketplace Startups?, Andreessen Horowitz (November 2018), 13 min read Marketplace startups have performed well, reinventing the way consumers shop for goods, but less so for services. In this article, Li Jin and Andrew Chen from Andreessen Horowitz argue that a breakthrough is on its way. You can also listen to the podcast on the subject: here
• Blog: Marketplace Trends predictions for 2019 at Market One Capital, Market One Capital (February 2019), 6 min read Marcin Kurek shares Market One Capital’s marketplace predictions; their views on the trends which will shape the marketplace category, and the new era of sMarketplaces (as termed by Bart Dessaint).
• Report: Create Enterprise Marketplaces to Accelerate Digital Business, Sandy Shen, Jason Daigler, Gartner (July 2019) According to Gartner, “By 2023, 15% of medium- to high-gross-merchandise-value digital commerce organisations will have deployed their own marketplaces, thereby creating an entirely new digital ecosystem.”
• Blog: The Rise of B2B Marketplaces, Magento (February 2020),7 min read According to Gartner, at least 70% of enterprise marketplaces launched will serve B2B transactions by 2023. This blog explores what’s behind this trend and the key reasons why merchants are building B2B Marketplaces.
• Blog: B2B Marketplaces 2.0, Software Platform Consulting (February 2020),7 min read Robert Salomon reflects on how far B2B Marketplaces have come in the last 20 + years.
• Report: Now Entering the Summer of B2B Marketplaces, Roland Berger, Mirakl (March 2020) This joint report dives deep into the new phase of B2B marketplaces: with manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and group purchasing organisations all climbing aboard the marketplace model.
• Report: The 2020 B2B Marketplace Report Series: Part One, Digital Commerce 360 (March 2020) The first report in the series explains how and why B2B marketplaces are making a bigger mark on business-to-business digital commerce; exploring growth trends, buy and sell on marketplaces and more.
• Blog: Why I love B2B Marketplaces, JME Ventures (June 2020),3 min read Cesar Tapia from JME Ventures shares his optimistic vision for B2B Marketplaces and their role as intermediaries between buyers and sellers.
• Blog: How B2B marketplaces are changing procurement, Point Nine Capital (June 2020), 6 min read In this post, Point Nine’s Robin Dechant talks about the reassessment of supply chains triggered by Covid-19, making it an excellent opportunity for new tools that can help companies in sourcing and managing their suppliers, and why now is a great time to build a B2B Marketplace.
• Blog: Reimagining B2B Commerce with Faire, Y Combinator (July 2020), 3 min read Y Combinator’s Anu Hariharan and Nic Dardenne believe that upcoming B2B players now have the tools to overcome historical constraints, and that large B2B commerce aggregators will emerge over the next decade. In this post, they walk us through Faire’s opportunity as a B2B marketplace for independent retailers and brands, and discuss what its success means for the future of B2B commerce companies.
• Report: Two-Sided Markets: A Progress Report, IDEI (November 2005) In this paper, Jean-Charles Rochet and Jean Tirole focus their attention on two-sided Markets: markets in which the structure, and not only the level of prices charged by platforms matters.
• Article: Matchmakers and trustbusters, The Economist (December 2005), 5 min read This article from the Economist highlights Jean Tirole’s work on 2-sided businesses that earned him a Nobel prize.
• Blog: Come for the tool, stay for the network, Andreessen Horowitz (January 2015), 2 min read In this article, Chris Dixon, partner at Andreessen Horowitz coins the expression “Come for the tool, stay for the network” to describe the idea of attracting users over a single-player tool and, over time, getting them to participate in a network.
• Blog: Anatomy of a managed marketplace, Tech Crunch (May 2017),15 min read Ezra Gaston sets us straight on what it means to be a true “managed” marketplace, what characteristics to look out for when spotting the hottest categories of venture investment.
• Report: Marketplaces: “The Platform Revolution”, Mirakl (2017) In this eBook, the founders of Mirakl share their vision on the Platform Revolution: the transformation from Retailer, Manufacturer or Distributor, to Platform Operator.
• Blog: Come for the network, stay for the tool, Point Nine Capital (March 2019), 4 min read Julia Morrongiello, Investor at Point Nine Capital, challenges Chris Dixon’s view of coming for the tool and staying for the network, arguing that coming for the network and staying for the tool may be a more effective approach.
• Report: B2B marketplaces: Welcome to the Platform Economy, Mirakl (February 2020) This whitepaper discusses why B2B companies are turning to the platform economy to facilitate a more desirable customer journey, where traditional e-commerce channels fall short, and shares the best approach for adopting and implementing a best-in-class B2B marketplace.
• Podcast: Marketplace mechanics This podcast series shares interviews and insights from people creating two-sided marketplaces.
• Blog: The Anatomy of a Marketplace, Noteworthy (December 2017), 5 min read The founder and former CEO of TaskRabbit, Leah Solivan (now a general partner at Fuel Capital), discusses the complexities of marketplace businesses, and how automation has revolutionised the building and scaling of marketplaces and streamlined the user experience.
• Report: Making Markets, Harvard Business Review (January 2018) This publication from Harvard Business School discusses tactics for building trust and liquidity when launching a new marketplace, as well as the challenges encountered as marketplaces mature.
• Blog: Winning Strategies for Service Marketplaces, Point Nine Capital (March 2020), 7 min read After evaluating multiple service marketplaces, Point Nine Capital’s Julia Morrongiello, provides us with a strategic analysis of what it takes to build a successful service marketplace.
• Blog: 7 Hacks for Building and Scaling B2B Marketplaces, Point Nine Capital (June 2020), 5 min read Julia Morrongiello from Point Nine Capital reveals the tips and tricks from the webinar held about B2B Marketplaces. You’ll find at this end of her article the links for the videos of the event.
• Blog: B2B Marketplaces and the Problem of Supplier Variability, Software Platform Consulting (December 2015), 3 min read Robert Salomon argues that B2B Marketplaces can only survive if their market values supplier variability, yet too many B2B marketplaces have failed to take the lack of supplier variability and “breakage” into account when creating their business models.
• Blog: 10 Marketplace KPIs That Matter, Andrei Brasoveanu (October 2016), 11 min read Andrei Brasoveanu, Venture at Accel, into some of the common characteristics shared by marketplaces, as well as some of the KPIs that every entrepreneur intent on building a world-class marketplace should be able to rattle off the top of their head!
• Blog: Etsy: Defining the Future of Wholesale, Ivey Business Review (April 2018), 11 min read This article takes a closer look at Etsy’s business model, competitive advantage, and opportunities in the B2B space.
• Blog: The Power User Curve: The Best Way to Understand Your Most Engaged Users, Andreessen Horowitz (August 2018), 9 min read All businesses want more power users - they drive some of the most successful businesses - but before a business can find and retain them, they need to be able to measure them. This blog introduces the Power User Curve which allows marketplaces to get a better understanding of how users are engaging with the product, and make more informed decisions using that data.
• Report: Using Urgency to Drive B2B Marketplace Conversions, Perfect Channel (September 2018) This whitepaper discusses how to use the power of urgency to increase conversions, prices, and profitably, in B2B marketplaces, regardless of the model used.
• Blog: The NFX Marketplace Scorecard, NfX (November 2018),12 min read James Currier shares NfX internal scorecard for assessing the potential of a marketplace. The deck provides a useful framework for founders to evaluate their strengths and risks.
• Blog: 28 Ways to Grow Supply in a Marketplace, The Startup (June 2019), 26 min read After 7 years at Airbnb, ex product leader on Supply Growth Lenny Rachitsky shares with us his key learnings and wisdom from growing supply at Airbnb. This article is packed full of tips and best practice that can be applied to your marketplace business.
• Blog: Marketplaces & Scalability: Lessons from Uber and Airbnb, Breadcrumb (February 2020), 6 min read Sameer Singh shares his vision on the geographic scalability of marketplaces. Marketplaces with cross-border network effects, such as Airbnb creates a lot more value for investors than those with hyperlocal network effects such as Uber.
• Blog: Defensibility x Scalability = The Marketplace Matrix, Breadcrumb (February 2020), 6 min read In extension to his previous article “Marketplaces & Scalability: Lessons from Uber and Airbnb”, Sameer Singh takes a look at defensibility, to understand how marketplaces can safeguard themselves against competition and copycats at scale.
• Article: 8 strategic hacks for building marketplace liquidity , The Next Web (December 2013), 7 min read William Hsu, co-founder and managing partner of MuckerLab shares common strategies employed by successful marketplaces to increase the chances of success in building liquidity.
• Blog: Take Rates for B2B Marketplaces, Software Platform Consulting (August 2015), 5 min read This post from Robert Salomon pays particular attention to “take rates” or the price B2B Marketplaces can charge for their services based on their layers of value.
• Podcast: Paving The Way To Marketplace Liquidity, Greylock Partners (June 2017), 49 min In this podcast, Eventbrite VP & GM Brian Rothenberg and Greylock Growth Advisor Casey Winters discuss starting and scaling Marketplaces.
• Blog: WTF Is Marketplace Liquidity? Point Nine Capital (October 2019), 7 min read Julia Morrongiello from Point Nine delves into the marketplace’s most critical aspect, liquidity - sharing Methodologies for understanding and measuring marketplace liquidity.
• Blog: 16 Ways to Measure Network Effects, Andreessen Horowitz (December 2018), 20 min read Network effects are amongst the most important, and complex dynamics in marketplace businesses. This article acts as a great guide to understand the nature of these network effects, and compiles a useful list dedicated to measuring them.
• Blog: Network Effects Aren’t Enough, Harvard Business Review (April 2016), 20 min read With inherently low cost structures and fat gross margins, marketplaces are the perfect business model, yet they remain extremely difficult to build. In this article, Andrei Hagiu of Harvard Business School and venture capitalist Simon Rothman of Greylock Partners uncover the hidden traps in building an online marketplace.
• Blog: The Network Effects Manual: 13 Different Network Effects (and counting), NFX (January 2018), 35 min read According to James Currier of NFX, some of the most impactful and significant companies in the world, including PayPal, Microsoft, Facebook, Uber, Twitter, and Salesforce. have a single property that defines them all and lies behind their success - network effects. This article takes us through the 13 network effects and how they actually work.
• Blog: When network meets Saas, Breadcrumb (March 2020), 8 min read Sameer Singh discusses how startups can combine SaaS and network effects to gain structural advantages.
• Blog: Hierarchy of marketplaces - level 2, Sarah Tavel (June 2020), 5 min read In her second instalment of The Hierarchy of Marketplaces, Sarah Tavel discussed “tipping” a marketplace and identifying and maximising “tipping loops”.
Required reading for Marketplace Entrepreneurs, Andreessen Horowitz, 6 min read This article gathers 20 recent, interesting pieces and books that helped shape their thinking on the business dynamics, historical context, and future of marketplace companies: