Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2014 (Revised November 2014)

Investing in Online Marketplaces

by Andrei Hagiu and Hermes Alvarez


Simon Rothman had recently been promoted from executive-in-residence to Partner at esteemed venture capital firm Greylock Partners and placed in charge of managing a $100 million early-stage fund commitment dedicated to online marketplaces. In Greylock's view, 2014 was a special moment in time for online marketplaces, the beginning of a boom in the space that was being catalyzed by mobile technology and social identity. Rothman was the right man for the job. An early eBay employee, he had founded eBay Motors and turned it into a multi-billion dollar business and also advised several successful online marketplaces such as Lyft, Wanelo and TaskRabbit. For his first investment as Partner, Rothman was particularly interested in the food delivery space, which was ripe for disruption by online marketplaces. Rothman had five food delivery startup options to choose from, a philosophy on how to analyze marketplace businesses, and a few weeks to make his first ever investment as a Partner at Greylock.

Keywords: business models; competitive advantage; entrepreneurship; internet; Investments; networks; technology; venture capital;


Hagiu, Andrei, and Hermes Alvarez. "Investing in Online Marketplaces." Harvard Business School Case 714-520, June 2014. (Revised November 2014.)