XOXO Conference Theme: Marketplaces that Connect People


I still remember when people were saying that video conferencing would replace in person meetings. We have more tools to communicate than we ever had — phone, email, social networks, video casts — and sometimes (even often) they come in handy

We still crave proximity. As social beings we cannot be reduced to thoughts navigating across pipes; bodies as transport systems for our heads in Sir Ken Robinson's parlance. There's something about the kinetic experience that makes us more creative — it connects mind and body.

Personally, I feel better when I can move around and meet other people in real life. However, we still grapple with too many things going on at any one time.

So this past weekend, in between fine sanding and coating solid pine louvered closet doors and doing some research, I came across Anil Dash live blogging of the XOXO Jomo! conference. While I couldn't be on site, I still got virtual front row seats through the posts, which is a much better way to package and digest content than tweets.

The learning by doing (or more precisely making things) theme weaves its way through the talks.

From copying to participate in one's contemporary culture to building open communities of practice where you let go of control, to tools that make it possible for communities to share what they make and build markets off them, these are all examples of doing something that creates real meaning between people.

According to Jonathan Harris, these kinds of organizations are the healers.  

Marketplaces that connect people

Quoting my answer to Hubspot's pearls of marketing wisdom, the business question then becomes:


There’s a collection of Zen koans called the Gateless Gate.

Among other
things, koans transcend dualism. The traditional sales process is fully
dualistic — there’s a buyer, and there’s a seller.

We are witnessing the
dissolution of the traditional sales role, as recommendation commerce
evolves and storefronts become wherever you happen to be, doing
whatever you are doing
. Which brings us to the Storeless Store and
Saleless Sale.

Creating the conditions for people to do what they want to do as their context changes is the new model.

Take Etsy as example:

They want to make money while having their community make even more money. Etsy took 3.5% of the over half a billion in sales on their platform last year. 800,000 active sellers, $525M in community sales in 201, which is already exceeded in 2012. 40 million visitors a month from 150 countries.

They are the platform that makes it possible to connect the people who make things with those who want to buy them, globally. By doing that, Etsy is creating a people-powered economy.

Do you think of banks as marketplaces that connect people?

Josh Reich built Simple as a way to improve the banking experience, after seeing how banks make money by keeping customers confused. They approached the problem with a hacker point of view, not being afraid to break things, and built a different experience.

Or take VHX, a new streaming video platform helping filmmakers bypass the studio system to distribute DRM-free films directly to fans. Co-founder Jamie Wilkison opened his session with the story of Glenn Beck, the self-distribution success that nobody wants to talk about. Over 300,000 people pay $10/month to get his daily videos, generating gross revenues of $36,000,000 per year.


These are just three examples from the conference. Follow #xoxojomo (JOMO stands for joy of missing out) through Anil Dash live blogging link and you'll be able to access well organized notes to the sessions.

As I said yesterday in things worth waiting for, I have many ideas and testing going around flipping the thinking around a digital model for brands that will integrate services and options people have come to expect of their digital experiences.

I'd like to hear your take on many of the comments about profitability being (often and still) separate from marketplaces built on connection.


[image courtesy XOXO Kickstarter project]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.