Sarah Tavel – Consumer & Marketplace Investing – [Invest Like the Best, EP.168]

My guest this week is Sarah Tavel, a general partner at Benchmark, working alongside past guests Bill Gurley and Chetan Puttagunta. Sarah has a long history as both an investor and as an operator.  She was an early product leader at Pinterest before joining Benchmark. Sarah has become one of my go-to resources for topics like networks, consumer technology, and marketplaces among many other topics. I’ve used her framework for how to think about client engagement, company data, and marketplace liquidity and quality over and over again in my business life. I’m so excited to finally have her on the show.  Please enjoy our conversation.

This episode is brought to by Koyfin.

Show Notes

1:24 – (First question) – Lessons learned from watching the food delivery space

5:44 – Hip camp and how they are thinking about the space rental sector

            5:45 – The a16z Marketplace 100

7:47 – Valuing private companies vs public companies

9:37 – Building marketplaces

14:24 – Tipping a market

            14:30 – Bill Gurley Podcast Episode

18:09 – How to incorporate reputation scores into a network

19:55 – Search ranking as a tool for marketplaces

21:00 – Size of marketplaces vs their competitors

22:15 – Niching of marketplaces

            22:21 – Chetan Puttagunta Podcast Episode

23:26 – State of the consumer social sector

27:50 – The LinkedIn problem and how she would build a social platform

30:42 – Things that are piquing her interest in the consumer space

32:20 – Lessons learned about scaling while working at Pinterest

38:42 – Pricing and the marketplace

41:25 – Identifying and optimizing a Core Action in a digital business

44:18 – Accruing benefits and mounting losses as part of the product design

47:48 – Her investment in Rekki

52:18 – How should companies gather the best data from their business

56:03 – Lessons to SaaS investing

56:29 – Kindest thing anyone has done for Sarah

57:45 – Most interesting philosophy lesson

            58:09 – Creating a Kingdom of Ends