Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zaarly grows by $14 million in funding and Meg Whitman

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Bo Fishback has reasons to smile.
When The Pitch wrote about locally founded e-commerce startup Zaarly in September, the Kansas City office was positively buzzing with good vibes and excitement. The peppy, relentlessly optimistic staff told us that Zaarly, which allows users to post requests for anything (a sandwich delivered, somebody to mow a law, etc.) to a website, which other users then fulfill for a set price, could be the next big Web company and social experiment.

CEO Bo Fishback, who used to work for Kauffman Labs, wasted no time in lining up money and celebrity backers. In two days, he and his business partners had accumulated $1 million and the support of Ashton Kutcher, tech blogger Michael Arrington, and the investment fund started by Groupon's founders.

At the time, Fishback admitted that all startups are a gamble. He compared his young business with eBay, noting that while only a small percentage of people use the online auction site, it facilitated $100 billion in transactions last year. "But we have a shot of being bigger than that [eBay], actually. We also have a shot at being out of business in a year." It looks like things are leaning toward the former. The company announced today that it had banked an additional $14.1 million in funding from a handful of investors.

Perhaps more significant than the cash infusion is the addition of Hewlett-Packard CEO and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to Zaarly's board of directors.

According to a statement that Zaarly released, Whitman joined eBay when it was a tiny, 30-employee operation and helped it transition to the behemoth it is today.

"Just as consumers once left off-line marketplaces to join online marketplaces such as eBay, Craigslist and Amazon, they're now migrating to mobile marketplaces, like Zaarly. Mobile, local marketplaces will shift how people buy and sell goods, services and experiences. This is the next generation of e-commerce," Whitman said in the statement.

Fishback told The New York Times that the new capital and Whitman's insight mark a significant achievement for Zaarly.

"Until now, our main goal was to get it up and running. Now, we have to figure out how to really nail a hyperlocal technology company," he told the paper.


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