Future Friday: OpenBazaar and OB1

Yesterday our portfolio company OB1 announced a seed round led by USV, Andreessen Horowitz and William Mougayar.

From the OB1 blog post:

OpenBazaar will always be open source and MIT licensed. As a global software community, we’ve intentionally created OpenBazaar so that there are no fees required to use the network, and there is no central authority controlling trade, taking a cut, or monitoring data.

So OpenBazaar is a decentralized open source marketplace protocol that allows trade to happen between parties without a central marketplace operator and without a take rate.

There is a real question about how one can make money doing something like this. And there is a real question about how you avoid bad people doing bad things in a marketplace like this.

My partner Brad, who led this investment for USV, addressed both in this blog post on usv.com yesterday. I can’t recall an investment we wrestled with more in recent years. We love the team, we love marketplaces, we believe in emergent decentralized innovation, and we are big fans of bitcoin and the blockchain. So in the end we went with all of that and are accepting the obvious risks of supporting something like this. We are very excited to see how this all plays out.


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Terrific post by Brad.I read this and I think of it more like seeding the potential of future systems then an investment in a model.When I’ve done small f & f investments in things I want to help happen, I feel in a small way like that.

    1. fredwilson

      that is correct

  2. Tom Labus

    Has the trading of stocks, bonds and futures been discussed?

    1. fredwilson

      yes but i think there may be better blockchain platforms out there for that application

    2. Dr Washington Y. Sanchez

      Yes, here: https://gist.github.com/drw…I agree with Fred that other blockchain platforms are better suited to handle some of these markets. For example, Open Assets is doing some great work with coloured coins that in my view is the perfect solution for issuing and transferring stocks (crypto-equity).That said, even these platforms require the metadata (i.e. who owns the keys that controls X shares) to be recorded and formalized. OpenBazaar would be the perfect platform to facilitate that. In OpenBazaar, we use Ricardian contracts to create a tamper-proof record of an agreement between 2 or more parties, which allows you to store semantic information about the nature of the trade and tie it to a cryptographic identity and digital signature (that can’t be forged).For other things like forward/futures contracts and bonds, I think OpenBazaar and our contract system is well suited to support these markets.But for now: razor sharp focus on building the protocol 🙂

      1. pointsnfigures

        for true futures, you need the back end clearing/settlement system. but I can see how you could do OTC forward contracts pretty easily

        1. Dr Washington Y. Sanchez

          You could possible build that using the distributed hash table (DHT), very much like BitSquare is trying to do for a decentralised currency exchange. A more semi-centralised approach would be for a supernode to offer that as a service on the network. Goes without saying that’s a bit further down the development roadmap 🙂

        2. Tom Labus

          can any of this help control the HFT guys?

      2. Tom Labus

        Thanks, Very exciting for you and your team.

  3. Fernando Gutierrez

    This is terrific news, really excited to see what the team can do being properly funded.I have no doubt that OB1 will be able to make money. There are plenty of successful companies linked to open source projects and I see no reason why OB1 should do worse than Automattic or RedHat. If OpenBazaar is successful (which I believe will happen), OB1 will be profitable.The real risk I see for the project is fear to illegal goods being sold through it driving decisions. If OB1 tried to implement measures to censor the marketplace, someone would simply fork the project and create an alternative without those measures.I personally understand that fear (I have thought about this extensively because I’m part of a project developing one of the alternatives to Bitcoin focussed on privacy, Dash, formerly known as Darkcoin), but I fully agree with Brad that the advantages and legitimate use cases will outweigh the bad ones. If we only focus in the bad side of tech we should forbid fire, writing and, of course, the internet 🙂

    1. LE

      Redhat yes. But for Automattic what is the metric by VC investment standards that makes that a success?

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        I agree that it is not as clear as RedHat and maybe it is too early to tell, but they’ve had three big rounds and a couple secondary market big transactions for early investors. Last round was at a valuation above 1 billion. I can’t be sure because of that lack of complete financial info, but I’m assuming (dangerous, I know) that their metrics must not be that bad if VC keep pouring money.

        1. LE

          that their metrics must not be that bad if VC keep pouring money.VC = Carnival Ride OperatorMeaning I think that is a bit like the carnival ride operator who implies that the ride is “so safe that I let my own kids ride it”. All that means is that he has decided it is safe by his standards which may not be safe by my standards. And fear or probability to one is not the same to a different parent.In any case Fred had remarked “that is correct” when he agreed essentially when Arnold said: I think of it more like seeding the potential of future systems then an investment in a model…there are other reasons for doing this investment that may not be apparent looking in to those who don’t have a complete picture and/or the same objectives.It is entirely possible to make money that you had never expected to make doing something that you didn’t even know existed when you went down a particular path. I know that and have experienced that personally several times.Edit Add: But it’s not VC “big win” money.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            It is entirely possible tomake money that you had never expected tomake doing something that you didn’t evenknow existed when you went down aparticular path. I know that and haveexperienced that personally several times.Yes, and this supports the idea that haveto be in the game to win.But still better, need your specialhand full of lucky darts to throw. Canonly get those darts at the Vito CorleoneNovelty Shop.Each evening, lots of lucky people makemoney at roulette, really, at a busy table,someone wins at nearly each turn of thewheel. Why, there goes one now to cash inhis chips.You are as smart as they are. So, whatare you worried about? Place your bets!To win, you have to be in the game!No guts, no blue chips.Let’s see the color of your money.Show us how it’s done!You really go for such arguments?How about that little ratio, what is it,36/38 or some such? Gotta believe: It’sthe strong law of large numbers, even ifthe wheel is fair.The nicest proof of the strong law oflarge numbers is from the martingaleconvergence theorem. Fine details,elegant, beautiful, are in, say, Jacques Neveu,Mathematical Foundations of theCalculus of Probability.

    2. Drew Meyers

      “Automattic”Yup, that’s the first company that came to mind for me too.

    3. sigmaalgebra

      The real risk I see for theproject is fear to illegal goods beingsold through it driving decisions.Maybe not: First, cut, the actual buyerand seller are the ones in legal trouble.Don’t go after Anaconda Copper or AT&Twhen cocaine is sold via telephone.

      1. JLM

        .I want to agree with you. I can’t. I am scared.A kid who lives about 5 miles from the fingertips typing this message was the founder of Silk Road.Nice family. Nice kid. Masters degree.Everybody in the family cleans up well. Knew what the inside of a church looked like.Wandered way off the gameboard. Was just sentenced to life in prison. Federal, no parole.In the end, he did some crazy shit. Incrementally, you could understand how it happened. Small steps for mankkind, big steps for him leading right to jail.Made $20MM.Life in prison. No parole.He was the founder of Silk Road. The facilitator, not the drug lord.The shitheads will be coming out of the woodwork like cockroaches.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          I was just gonna reply with that example. We may not agree with all decisions made by Ross Ulbricht, but in my opinion life in prison for him is as crazy as it gets.

          1. JLM

            .Five people died of overdoses and, at the end, he hired hitmen to kill several folks who were providing the FBI with evidence against him.The Federal Judge made the decision to put him away for life and mentioned the above facts at his sentencing hearing.The prosecutors thought he was looking at 20 years and never mentioned life in prison. They were as surprised as everyone else.It is a very tragic situation. The deaths changed everything.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. Fernando Gutierrez

            Yeah, but as you said, he was the facilitator, not the druglord. And those overdosed people were not forced into anything, I can’t think about OD deaths in the same way as in a murder.Regarding the hitmen, that is a completely different beast. However, I believe he was not charged with that because it was not fully proved, but I haven’t followed that closely, so I may be wrong.Anyway, tragic for everyone involved. And really expensive for the tax payer.

  4. David Semeria

    This is a fascinating and bold move. As Brad articulated so well, the twin swords of monetization and misuse cast a pretty long shadow over the project.But these risks pale when compared to how transformative this idea could be.I really hope it takes off.

    1. awaldstein

      I thought exactly the same David.

    2. LE

      But these risks pale when compared to how transformative this idea could be.Do VC fund LP’s care about transformative? Does anyone with money in a pension fund care about transformative?

      1. David Semeria

        They do if it makes them money.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        Maybe think M&A exit!

      3. JLM

        .Most pension fund allocations to VC and real estate were originally a way to diversify the investment horizon and because someone else did it.The returns have not been so grand that it is a great strategy otherwise allocations — 5% +/- right now — would have grown.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  5. Anne Libby

    “Because the marketplace is defined by a protocol and distributed across every participant’s server, the hosting costs are shared and there is no way for a central authority to leverage network effect market power to extract rents from the participants.”To one thread of some of our recent conversations out here, this point in Brad’s post was compelling. Bravo.(Edit) Also, go William!

  6. LIAD

    USV 1.0 was a creative destruction of the status quo.USV 2.0 is a creative destruction of USV 1.0Balls of steal. I like it.

    1. fredwilson

      what else can we do? it seems like this is the only way to do the business

      1. JamesHRH

        It has to be weird to fund a services business though. OB1 will have to be near dominant or your timing near perfect for the ratios to work.

        1. Anne Libby

          It’s part of the “stack” for other investments.

          1. JamesHRH

            Like to see that diagram – transactions as a platform seems much flatter a stack than communications…..

          2. Anne Libby

            Sloppy wording on my part. I meant, other “investable” innovation will happen on top of this.

          3. JamesHRH

            Would still like to see that stack diagram.

        2. Joel Monegro

          I don’t think so. The way I see it decentralized protocols expand markets. So you can build a big business taking a smaller size of a much bigger pie.Some napkin math: median marketplace take rate is 10%. A $100M ARR business with a 10% take rate has a GMV of $1B. If OpenBazaar aggregates online marketplace trade, and OB1 charges 1% for its notary services and has a 30% market share, they can build a $100M ARR business if the OpenBazaar network sees $33B in GMV for insured transactions. For comparison’s sake, Amazon’s GMV for 2014 was $180B.Very ambitious, but not out of this world 🙂

      2. Twain Twain

        Here’s the thing: the machines will automate a lot of “grunt” data work and put entire layers of the middle class out of a job within the next 20 years.What’s a way for people to earn a living in that future scenario?Having democratic control over the generation, value and pricing of our own data. Plus maybe equity in the blockchain itself.That’s a whole Brave New World for commerce.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          >Here’s the thing: the machines will automate a lot of “grunt” data work and put entire layers of the middle class out of a job within the next 20 years.>What’s a way for people to earn a living in that future scenario?Trading products and services on their own account with anyone anywhere? That’s what this post is about.

          1. Twain Twain

            The products could be their own personal data or their social recommendations for restaurants / vacation spots / house-buying just as much as “Hey I can knit 100 baby gros for you at $2 each” or “Fix my car and I’ll cook you a meal in exchange.”

          2. Vasudev Ram

            Agreed. I do know about the model of web services that is based on the idea that “when the service is free, the user is product (to be monetized via selling their personal data)”, but not sure I get your point.Are you saying that people can make a living out of trading their own personal data? Can’t imagine that they could make anything much from that, unless selling it to millions of buyers separately. But then again, I don’t know enough about this area.

          3. Twain Twain

            No one knows how the future will play out in this area.It just potentially changes how we value, price and have transparency about products and services.

          4. JLM

            .The future of commerce will be so different, we will not recognize it in ten years time.Agreeing with you more than you agree with yourself.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Vasudev Ram

      Something like the HP of past days with their creative destruction of their older printer models – by frequently bringing out new and better ones? Think I read about back in the day. Maybe Fred has an HP connection of some kind, so some of that rubs off … and of course, William was czar of re-engineering at HP 🙂

  7. andyswan

    This is where Bitcoin cheerleaders lose me. It’s where the value of the middleman is always revealed.The page talks about not needing a central authority but then spends 75% of the copy explaining all of the methods it can/will utilize to create a 3rd party authority for your transaction.It reads like a laundry list of the things that Amazon EBay and Amex have already solved really really well.Maybe 3rd party value “centralizes” around those 3rd parties who do their job the best.Note: I am not being critical of the investment or the team behind the company. It’s smart teams like these taking on wildly ambitious tasks that create great wealth. I wouldn’t bet against anyone involved.

    1. scottythebody

      Great points all… Fascinating to see how this plays out. This is definitely the team to start with.

    2. Dr Washington Y. Sanchez

      The key difference is that the third parties involved in centralised systems have custodial control of your funds and own the real estate for listing your goods and services to other users. As a result they can extract take rates upwards of 10% in a typical exchange (varies of course).In OpenBazaar, the real estate is decentralised and distributed (i.e. no listing fees) firstly. Secondly, third parties for escrow (we call them ‘notaries’) differ from eBay/Paypal, Alibaba/AliPay etc in that:1) Notaries have no a custodial relationship with the escrow funds. They have a tie-breaking vote to release funds from a bitcoin escrow address in the event of a dispute or one of the parties becoming uncontactable.2) Are only involved if there is a dispute, and thus may only charge a service fee if they’re used to resolve a dispute.3) Are selected from an open marketplaceThis means that for (hopefully) the majority of cases where there is a successful trade, the notary will be necessary and will not even know that a trade took place (via some cryptomagic).Other third party roles include oracles to report changes in state, which are useful in forward/futures contracts or prediction markets etc… and these too can be selected from an open marketplace.Of course even notaries themselves are waiting to be disintermediated by new technology or capabilities on the blockchain.

      1. Chimpwithcans

        Interesting stuff! What qualifications do you have to have, to become a notary?

      2. LE

        3) Are selected from an open marketplaceWho selects those notaries? Can that be gamed? Because that is what often happens its called, say, “venue shopping” with any type of dispute resolution.

      3. andyswan

        OK… I just went on Amazon to buy something from one of their sellers. I used my AMEX.To your points…1) At no point did anyone have custody of my funds.2) I get that… but what is the incentive then to be a notary?3) I selected both Amazon and AMEX from an open marketplace.Thanks for the discussion.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          1) Your bank, which you need to pay your amex, has custody of your funds.2) I guess that getting paid when they actually work and resolve a dispute

          1. andyswan

            1) My bank account never has enough $$ in it to cover my outstanding AMEX balance. I don’t understand why you assume who has custody of my money2) makes sense. Disputes must pay well.

          2. Fernando Gutierrez

            1) But at some point in time (or at many points in time) you’ll have funds in your bank account to pay amex, even if it is not the full balance… or amex will hate you :)Anyway, I get what you are saying about Bitcoin/blochchain/OB being a hammer in search for a nail. I agree that buying online is already very easy and works pretty well for many people.However, that is not the case for everyone (I’m thinking in the unbanked in developed/underdeveloped countries or people overseas who don’t have a credit card with a US billing address) or everytime (those giving their credit cards to Target lamented it for a log time), so I really believe there is room for everyone.Moreover, don’t think about it like pure substitution of the same features. Email is not faster snail mail, this could turn into something completely different from the marketplaces we already know.

          3. andyswan

            well now we agree and can focus on lunch

    3. Richard

      Ironically, most of commerce is introducing intermediaries, Uber, Instacart, Amazon …..

  8. creative group

    The bright people surrounding this endeavor possess the talent to thwart the dark and rogue elements developing ways to defraud the ecosystem as we blog.The task is to create an incentive for the marketplace users to keep the system free of fraud. (A check and balance or tracker/unique marker similar to a bitcoin process).

  9. kenberger

    I’d like to use the platform to buy shares in William’s career– super impressive involvement with this!

    1. William Mougayar

      Ha… you can invest in my upcoming fund.

      1. Twain Twain

        Let me know too!There are lots of hedge funders in London I know who’d be interested.

        1. LE

          Question. Do you think the hedge funders would be interested in a model which is a short term hold with lower gain vs. longer (sometimes much longer) payback? In other words they invest in a company or a fund early on with the intent to flip that investment to someone else in a time period that is much shorter, say 6 mos. to 2 years? In other words they take a position and flip that position quickly. Or they buy a position (say William’s position) based on the signal that exists as a result of A16z and USV’s investment.

          1. Twain Twain

            Hedgies will follow the signal of Tiger Global Management more than A16Z and USV, and Tiger is investing in Bitcoin plays.

  10. Seth M Phillips

    so happy to see people invest in projects like this! my next venture will be along the say vein as OpenBazaar… open-source, distributed, etc…..i’m a bitcoiner and big believer in decentralized systems… sooo my opinions are as expected.i think the world will move this direction, even though the profit-question looms. the point is disintermediation–true peer-to-peer systems. in my mind the most significant question isn’t how these new companies will make money… but rather, how will incumbents handle competition from efficient competitors that have zero self-interest? those are scary competitors! in my opinion these kinds of systems represent an eventuality and the smartest bet is on the companies that make that happen….

  11. JamesHRH

    I assume the OB1 folks are already working on a search engine for the protocol.Or, some sort of transaction assurance service?

    1. Dr Washington Y. Sanchez

      http://bazaarbay.org/OB1 didn’t make it though, this was another one of OpenBazaar’s community members.

  12. JamesHRH

    if it turns out that BitCoins is NOT a solution in search of a problem, then this has massive potential.

    1. William Mougayar

      yes, It’s always been about the blockchain.

      1. Richard

        Now it’s time to explain the block chain so that people understand it :)Don’t teach them how the drill works explain why the hole works.

        1. Anne Libby

          Also, using lingo like “oracles” and “notaries” is either stellar branding, or too Middle Earth for normals…

          1. LE

            Agree and those words caught my attention as well. And since they relate to analog subjects and aren’t simply a cute word meant to embellish in an annoying way (like Heroku does with “dyno”) I thought it was a great idea.

          2. William Mougayar

            DHT, multi-sigs, op_return, nonce, Merkle tree, etc… now we’re talking 🙂

          3. Anne Libby


        2. William Mougayar

          You know, it took the Internet about 2-3 years before it became wildly understood, and even today, if you asked different people what the Internet means to them, you will get different answers. So, I’m sorry to say that the blockchain is a set of technologies that is not so easy to fully understand yet (even I learn new things about it, daily).It looks like database mumbo jumbo to some, a decentralized trust network, or something else to others. Until we start seeing interesting applications (in addition to Bitcoin/money related ones) on top of the blockchain (e.g. OpenBazaar), we will have some difficulties in explaining it in layman’s terms.In the meantime, maybe you can “chew” on this?http://startupmanagement.or

  13. LE

    And there is a real question about how you avoid bad people doing bad things in a marketplace like this.Take some comfort in knowing that the silver lining to people doing bad things in the marketplace is that it will get ob1 a great deal of free publicity.

    1. Richard

      Not if its silkroad!!

  14. Twain Twain

    Congrats to OB1 because they gained investors with expertise in decentralized and distributed networks.The temptation to say, “Ken know bi soon your revenue model prospects” in Yoda’s voice is too high so I just said it! Lol.“The competition that I worry most about in many cases hasn’t been created yet. It’s a new company, a new technology, a new business model that looks at this blurringbetween online and offline, looks at this enormous opportunity where technology can enhance a consumer’s experience of buying and paying, and then come up with something new.”John Donahoe, outgoing eBay Chairman and CEO, March 2015.* http://www.pwc.com/us/en/ce…There are 3 technologies I’d code simultaneously if I could replicate myself:(1.) Data classifier that calibrates the signal >>> noise of information that affects consumers and Machine Intelligence — startup #1.(2.) User experience that makes signal >>> noise go beyond click counts and screen swipes — startup #2.(3.) Bitcoin and open protocols — not put hands to code any of this yet.OB1 lends itself to an idea where each of us might be able to own, trade & sell our own data without paying middle-man fees.

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      >>OB1 lends itself to an idea where each of us might be able to own, trade & sell our own data without paying middle-man fees.I was looking at a concept in this area – A major market exists where multiple bidding parties conduct discovery exercises that are reliant on buyer sourced data plus their interpretation. It is high;y inefficient and bidding involves expensive surveys that must be funded by all biddersValue can be added if the buyer adds their own IP (survey information) objectively to the interpretation as this reduces the overhead of all bidders. Unfortunately there is no protocol for the capture sale and marketing of this data.Could be interesting,,,

      1. Twain Twain

        Well, in certain respects, it’s similar to energy contracts and their contingent on+off grid arbitrage, right.The difference is that with blockchain there are no parties up or downstream blocking / siphoning off bits of the valuable data flow.People are the producers of the data oil and they monetize their production of it.Re. “Value can be added if the buyer adds their own IP (survey information) objectively to the interpretation as this reduces the overhead of all bidders. Unfortunately there is no protocol for the capture sale and marketing of this data.”Ah, James, except that there is potentially a protocol. The IP (survey information) has historically been concentrated in the hands of the likes of WPP, Google, McKinsey, Gallup, Gartner, Nielsens, Facebooks etcetcetc.This is an area I’ve more than thought about a lot. I’ve been coding for it.My startup #1 has a distributed protocol at its core. It’s in the ethos of Eric Von Hippel’s ideas of “democratizing innovation” albeit mine is “democratizing intelligence”.

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          Yes and No>>The IP (survey information) has historically been concentrated in the hands of the likes of WPP, Google, McKinsey, Gallup, Gartner, Nielsens, Facebooks etcetcetc.In decentralised markets pricing becomes heterogeneous and locally volatile (there is no single market price).Decentralised markets literally know more locally than single centralised market. So by trading players arbitrage their own Alpha (which Google etc know nothing about) until post trade.Example – Everyone goes to market to buy vegetables and average transport costs to market are factored into a single cabbage price.If cabbages are bought locally (from each garden), the local information about growing conditions etc determines local price.The decentralisation means in a drought area prices rise relative to a centralised market. This is much better for smaller participants (or anyone who can participate) – (because local supply elasticity is much lower than in the larger market in a period of drought the returns of suffering participants rises).TL;DR In a decentralised market a rising tide does not lift all boats because it is local.

          1. Twain Twain

            Thanks for explanations and examples, :*).My preference is for heterogeneity. Globalization created homogenized commodities, e.g. Xiaomi phone is not that different from iPhone which is not that different from Android phones — by this I mean that it’s not like the difference between a horse and a car.Localization tends towards homogeneity too; the Tiger economies all emulate each other and pay similar prices for similar goods.The premium, though, happens through displaced heterogeneity. For example exporting Hello Kitty from its home country to a land of Barbies.

  15. William Mougayar

    (not to take away from this great discussion on OB1 and OB), but I’m receiving emails asking how I got involved in this. I wrote about it yesterday:http://startupmanagement.or

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      When I saw your name in your share yesterday, I did a little fist pump. So exciting to see you in action!

      1. William Mougayar

        thanks Kirsten – i’m just getting started 🙂

      2. William Mougayar

        Thanks Kirsten!(we’ve got another one like it that’s not announced yet …. shhh)

    2. Joe Cardillo

      Cool, was just reading their post and thought, that software stack chart looks very William-esque. And, congrats! Looks like a gutsy and interesting bet.If I am understanding correctly, part of this investment is to underwrite the market for decentralized ecommerce, so if all goes well this will enable investments in those layers on top of OB.

      1. William Mougayar

        I had nothing to do with that graph, actually it’s been part of their vision for a while. There is an element of building a decentralized contractual infrastructure. The Ricardian contracts implementation is a key part of it, but there are other pieces to it.

        1. Joe Cardillo

          Gotcha. Not sure if you can share or not, but from your perspective what’s it been like watching them get the core idea into simple enough language to explain to the public?(and/or Brian would be cool to hear your take if you’re lurking around here, not recon for anything just interested in how you’re boiling down something that’s multipurpose / complex into simple terms….I found the About on the press release interesting, still feels like a work in progress)

          1. William Mougayar

            Well, they have been quite open and public about their progress, and have published numerous papers too along the way. It’s all in the Github link, and if someone is interested in getting involved more closely, they will get invited into to their Slack. Remember, it’s an open-source project which means there is lots of openness and community collaboration about it.http://github.com/OpenBazaar

          2. Joe Cardillo

            Ah good point, will take a closer look at it, thank you

    3. Rohan

      Elite company, William! Nicely done! 🙂

    4. Tom Labus

      Congrats to you

  16. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    @fredwilson @wmougayar and @openbazaar and the rest of USV team (I’m sure there are loads of other contribtors)Well played – massive position you are takingPresumably OpenBazzar will contain many subsets, I have some questions regarding one such :Suppose a potential buyer wanted to buy as much of a certain digital asset class as they could while advantageously priced vs an externally defined market price. (So serving an arbitration function). That this external market is closed except for players who meet well defined statutory obligations and the buyer is qualified.Further that the asset class could be represented as generic future contracts to act remotely with retrospective compliance verifiability via an API (despite being an IoT real world impact that is verified).Am I right in thinking that OpenBazaar could be a platform to support this type of trading construct _ Where an “unopen external market” can be exposed at low cost to simple particpation by peers. ?Would OpenBazaar be the right place to start to look for support to build such a solution ?Might not this be part of a monetization strategy ?

  17. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Well, the hair on the back of my neck just stood up.What is the last investment that USV wrestled with nearly as much?

  18. ShanaC

    Mazel Tov to william – I didn’t know he was involved:)

  19. Yinka!

    Wow, this sounds very razor-edge (profitable/not, illicit/not). It could become quite interesting if ubiquity beyond current e-commerce limits could be reached or built in. Reached meaning it is appealing to me as a trader if it exposes my goods to a crowd larger than what any direct or indirect e-commerce avenues could.Per being built in, if things got to where OB functionality were somehow embedded into new PCs and OS upgrades (similar to how browsers are included) then everyday people like non-techie John/Jane Doe could just launch OB and pull up my shopHandle/object name and explore/buy the object we were just talking about earlier (on/offline).Congrats to all and here’s to the cutting edge not becoming a bleeding edge.

  20. Matt A. Myers

    Is this technology affixed to Bitcoin or any blockchain can be used?

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      As far as I know, Bitcoin is deep into the code, but other blockchains could be integrated with some work as long as they support multisig.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        If that’s the case then I’d fully support this effort.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          What are you thinking to integrate it with?

  21. RV

    Cool idea. I think the ‘decentralization’ thesis will eventually spread to other online services. I am interested to see how this trend will be countered by the large, valuable, centralized players. And if ‘decentralization’ is successful, how that impacts employment and investment in online businesses.

  22. David Cole

    It’s great to see Marketplace models like this emerging. And it’s wonderful to have it tied to an open license and a .org designation. Similar in this way to Stellar.org. Exploring and defining rules of engagement for trust relationships and human-centered interactions, which are intrinsic to selling and exchange, will be what allows the tech — the opportunities and the limitations (think size of blockchain, the on and offline interdependencies and protocols for personal wallets, etc…) — to evolve creatively and transparently. This will help mitigate perceived and actual risk. I love this line from the Open Bazaar blog: “Put simply, it’s the baby of eBay and BitTorrent.”Update: Just went and read B. Burnham’s post on the USV.com blog. One couldn’t ask for a more lucid description of the questions and possibilities. Great reading.

  23. JLM

    .No bugs on this deal. Well done and well played. Congratulations to all involved.Everyone is focusing on the cost of the transaction and this solution gives the cost objection a good wack in the head. Well played.What is worth pondering is the ability to discipline the marketplace and to enforce that discipline.On this score, the gold standard is Amazon. I buy from Amazon because I absolutely trust them to make a bad deal right. Even on routine warranty matters, they have a better solution. They have answered the bell every single time I have ever called.I might go taste the samples at Best Buy but I buy them from Amazon.Recently, I bought a computer from the Microsoft store. It was an Asus. SSHD took a holiday and it was a major league pain in the ass to get it fixed. It made me hate both Asus and Microsoft — not to the Unabomber level but you know what I mean.OTOH, I had a similar situation with Amazon. Replacement product shows up before I even return the defective product. Smooth as silk. No hassle.Who is going to provide the level of customer service and body shop work on this deal?I can read and I get the trustworthy third parties. The words are decipherable. I even want to believe.I just don’t see the sleekness, the muscle, the power.You cross Amazon as a seller and they take you behind the warehouse, rough you up, put you in time out and make you eat worms to get back in. They have the muscle to do this.Nobody who is just an admin is going to be able to discipline the marketplace — which is one of the toughest places in the world to walk around after dark.This is exactly why the notion of doing away with intermediaries is suspect. The intermediaries have the muscle.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigworld…

    1. LE

      I buy a ton of things on Amazon. Quite possibly more than you do because much of it is business purchases.And somehow I am getting the feeling that Amazon is a bit like an insurance company is with claims. In other words you don’t want to make to many claims or they will decide they don’t need you and/or jack up your rates.I am wary of returning things on Amazon for that reason. I am curious if anyone has tested out how difficult of a customer you can be before you “lose certain privileges” with them.I don’t view Amazon the same way that I would view a department store with returns where there is much more lattitude. I could be wrong but that is the impression that I get.

      1. JLM

        .I have had nothing but complete, total satisfaction from Amazon. I have never had a close call.I have found them to be incredibly responsive.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  24. Vasudev Ram

    What kinds of trades can be done on this platform? Is it mentioned anywhere in their docs? Update: Okay, read Brad’s post. It is products and services, which I guess means anything.

  25. Dasher

    Perfect name – remember reading Bazaar and Cathedral when it was published. That was the manifesto for open source movement

  26. Dasher

    Why do open distributed platforms need VC funding?

  27. Prokofy

    I think it’s great that Ross Ulbricht “Dread Pirate Roberts” got life imprisonment for selling illegal drugs, making a platform that accelerated and eased drug sales which led to several people’s deaths and even creating an exchange for assassination commissions. That should help establish right from wrong, and show that just because something is online, it is not exempt from the rule of law.These open exchanges often end in tears. Human beings have been making marketplaces for thousands of years. They like to buy and sell, they aren’t socialists when they are free and they don’t like “distributing equally”. But they also like customs and rules.Craigs List became all about the prostitution ads, some of which led to murder. The free ads to sell your used couch was sustained by the expensive prostitution ads. Craig, who is a socialist, coined money. Then the attorneys general came calling.I imagine you will re-discover all these things once the law knocks on the door.