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Investing in Marketplaces at NEA

After a nine-year hiatus from venture, during which I was building the product team at Airbnb, I am thrilled to be back, investing in consumer technology as a partner at NEA.

The opportunities today are far greater than they were in 2009, in the doldrums of the financial crisis. It feels like a step function change in the level of activity that is occurring in the startup ecosystem. Entrepreneurship has been democratized. Technology has seeped into the lives of everyone around the world, particularly with the ubiquity of mobile devices. There is now a generation fluent in digital products. As a result, technology is moving into the built world.

I am tremendously excited to seek out entrepreneurs who are building businesses to impact others in a positive way. Marketplaces are an amazing way to accomplish this task by bringing together disparate parties and allowing them to interact where it was otherwise not possible. They are the foundation for the economy. As an angel investor, I’ve invested in a handful of powerful marketplaces—including Funding Circle, Hipcamp, Merlin, and Wonderschool—that are at the beginning of building a community where one did not exist before.

And that’s what I’m looking for now: marketplaces that can bring together a community and create behavior-changing experiences. This is when something special happens—when a product is so compelling that a community decides to leave behind what it was accustomed to in favor of a far superior new experience. Shifting behavior isn’t easy; I shared some of the most harrowing moments, and most valuable lessons learned, of my time at Airbnb in a previous post. And marketplaces’ unique business model demands particular attention to the four key factors that can make or break them, something I detailed in Four Questions Every Marketplace Startup Should Be Able to Answer. But when they work—as demand first far exceeds supply, and supply is then motivated to continually build its business to capture that demand—they create a unique experience, and a virtuous cycle.

There’s no better place to develop the big ideas that marketplaces demand than NEA. The partners at NEA are company builders and long-term allies. They have built their 40-year reputation on working hand-in-hand with entrepreneurs to grow enduring businesses at the edges of where technology and behavior changes occur. Some of the next transformational marketplaces have already partnered with NEA, including Care.com, Letgo (Wallapop), MasterClass, and Opendoor as well as revolutionary consumer startups like 23andMe, Casper, Jet, Robinhood, Snap, and Uber.

Jumping from the operating world to the venture world, I have so much kinetic energy to help marketplaces and other exciting businesses tackle challenges in the world and—with vision, drive, and hard work—make radical changes in how we live, work, and play. I'm ready to make the next explosive marketplace a reality.

Follow me on Twitter @jpgg

*Also published on Jonathan's Medium Page