Spark Capital’s Todd Dagres on NY vs. Boston, What’s Beyond Social Media, and Why Tech Investing Is Better Than Making Movies
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a few pointers to what he considers hot. “Here’s what you do,” he says. “You invest across a fairly broad horizon and then what you hope is one of the areas you’re investing in is going to be hot in the future.”
“If you look at what we’re investing in these days, I think one of the themes is going to be globalization.” Sometimes that means investing in U.S. companies bringing things that worked here—group buying, discount tickets, whatever—to emerging markets. But sometimes it is firms out to take advantage of the unique ways emerging markets have evolved. One recent investment is in Boston- and San Francisco-based Txteagle, which is developing a global ad network platform for mobile phones. In the U.S., Dagres says, advertisers have plenty of ways to reach people besides mobile phones: TV, radio, Internet, desktop, and so on. “In emerging markets, the only way you can reach people other than a billboard is mobile phones. That’s their lifeblood.”
On another front, says Dagres, “We continue to look at the commerce area. Right now, the group buying and all that, that’s way overdone. Groupon has no competitive advantage. It’s going to be kind of like a situation where there’s no customer loyalty, there’s no barriers to entry—and that whole market is going to get squeezed in terms of margins and cost of doing business,” he says.
But what he calls social commerce is different, he says. That’s not about selling coupons. “Social commerce means that people like me are interested in something, interested in a product. So if we’re interested in something, there’s an opportunity for us to collaborate…to get a better price and to provide a payment. It’s more about discovering what you want and fulfilling it in a social environment.”
Social commerce—this is a very interesting concept to me, although it has been bandied about for some time. It’s especially interesting because Spark is a big investor in Twitter, which despite its immense social success has yet to find a way to make a lot of money. Could this, I wonder, be the financial future of Twitter? Or Foursquare for that matter?