This past Monday, Chris Dixon made a great point on his blog. He explains that the reason we are seeing innovative new web-based marketplaces now is simple: trust.
He’s right and it’s fascinating to think what innovations will come from an “Internet of people” as opposed to an “Internet of anonymous nodes” (which was what it felt like before the social media boom). Ebay seemed like a ridiculous idea when I first heard about it. Even just a year ago when I learned about Airbnb, I rolled my eyes and laughed to myself – “that’ll never work”. And now, we have services like Kickstarter and Etsy that are completely disrupting industries and creating opportunities that simply didn’t exist before. The one thing these platforms have in common is that they’ve all built up a community of people who regularly use their service and who tell others about how great it is. That cycle only works when you have people’s trust.
This realization has me wondering how the creators of these services manage trust. When they see users violate that trust, how do they handle it? How do they themselves build trustworthiness into their products? I bet there are a lot of design considerations, safeguards, security measures, monitoring techniques that go into these platforms that we don’t even see and that are implemented specifically to build/ensure trust. It’s something that any entrepreneur (even those building offline products) needs to take very seriously.
The successful products will execute “trust-building” features and techniques well, the unsuccessful products won’t.