Thank you buySAFE!

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Today, I am starting a new chapter in my entrepreneurial story. It is with both a bit of sadness and a lot of excitement that I share with you the news that I have left buySAFE to pursue other start-up and entrepreneurial interests. In addition, I have joined buySAFE’s Board of Advisors so that I can continue to assist the company in whatever fashion is necessary.  Click here to see buySAFE's announcement on the buySAFE blog.

After almost nine years of building buySAFE, I am leaving the Company in very capable hands, with fresh funding, and the brightest future that the Company has ever had. It has been a deeply satisfying experience to create something valuable, and I want to sincerely thank our customers, our partners, my colleagues and the many investors who made buySAFE possible. I am obviously looking forward to my next adventure, but I am also very much looking forward to buySAFE’s continued success over the coming months and years.

I founded buySAFE after getting burned in an online transaction on eBay. As a student, I didn’t have any extra money to lose to ecommerce fraudsters, and so I decided that there had to be a better way to buy and sell products online. buySAFE was born!

This adventure started for me while I was earning my MBA at Wharton in 2000, and as with all start-ups, there have been huge successes and great challenges. For me, both have proven to be invaluable learning experiences.

Developing buySAFE’s early business/technology plan, acquiring our major financial institution and strategic partners (including two major strategic partners to be announced in the coming months), and raising our $30 million in venture capital financing were all challenges that I ultimately found to be great learning experiences. Over time, I was able to lead almost every aspect of buySAFE’s business operations, and all of these experiences were amazing for me personally and professionally. I plan to share with you many of the lessons I learned at buySAFE over the coming months.

Perhaps the thing I am most proud of at buySAFE is our team. Early on, I recruited Jeff Grass, Tim Woda, and Hans Dreyer to buySAFE. Today, Jeff is buySAFE’s CEO, Tim is the VP – Sales, and Hans is the VP – Operations. They are the core of our team even to this day. The rest of our team is amazing as well, and it has been a pleasure working with each and every one of them.

I never intended to spend almost a decade working on my Wharton class project, but along the way, buySAFE provided me with an amazing opportunity to make great friends, to learn important new skills, and to see that anything is possible with persistence and creativity. It also taught me that you can’t build a company by yourself.

Although I could never hope to name all of the folks that deserve my thanks, I wish I could. A few folks in particular – my wife, my brother, and buySAFE’s employees, customers, investors, and advisors – have all obviously been invaluable to both me and buySAFE. To all of you, thank you! I sincerely appreciate your investments in time, capital, expertise, and support. There would be no buySAFE without you.

As far as the next chapter in my entrepreneurial story, I am not ready to share the details quite yet, but please stay tuned. I will share my adventures with you here on my blog, so if you are interested, please make sure to subscribe using the form below.

Thank you buySAFE!

Related posts:

"Steve Woda, Founder and Chairman of buySAFE, Pursues New Entrepreneurial Ventures" on the buySAFE blog

"Founder of buySAFE, Steve Woda, Steps Down" on AuctionBytes.com

The eMarket for Lemons at The Wharton School

I had the opportunity to speak at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania last week about an article that Dr. Eric Clemons recently authored for the Journal of Management Information Systems, "An Empirical Investigation of Third-Party Seller Rating Systems in E-Commerce: The Case of buySAFE".  My presentation was focused on marketplace economics and specifically about information asymmetry, signaling, the "Market for Lemons" concept, and buySAFE.  In addition, I was able to share a few thoughts about my entrepreneurial experience with buySAFE.

As always, I had a great time as the guest of Dr. Eric Clemons, and I enjoyed hearing the passionate questions, insights and feedback from the students.  One of the students posted an article about my visit on his blog, The Un-Wharton

Continue reading “The eMarket for Lemons at The Wharton School”

Scam of the Month – Judge Judy Punishes an Idiotic eBay Fraudster!

In this "scam of the month", Judge Judy takes on an eBay fraudster and ultimately hands out the maximum punishment.  In spite of the fact that this scam seems audaciously ridiculous, it is actually quite common online.  Bottom-line, there are a lot of folks out there that lack any semblance of a moral compass.

My inspiration for starting buySAFE was a similar scam that I fell victim to on eBay during the summer of 2000.  The only major differences that I can point to are that I purchased a $400 PDA, and instead of taking the scammer to court with Judge Judy, I decided to instead start a company dedicated to making every online transaction trusted, reliable and risk-free… buySAFE!

Next time, I hope these two innocent victims limit their purchases to buySAFE merchants.  It will save them a whole lot of anguish and effort!

Watch this video.  It is quite enlightening.

Related articles:
"Judge Judy Episode on eBay Trust & Safety" on Psychohistory blog

buySAFE on The Today Show!

The past few days have been quite exciting here at buySAFE.  Last week, buySAFE was featured on The Today Show.  The "Designer Duds: Fake or Real?" segment, reported by Today’s consumer affairs reporter Janice Lieberman, discussed the growing e-commerce problem of counterfeit luxury goods.  As expected, buySAFE was showcased as a terrific solution to the counterfeit goods problem.

Counterfeit/fake/stolen goods are obviously becoming a major issue for e-commerce, but in my opinion, this problem is actually a symptom of a much larger, more important, fundamental problem… Online, buyers have a very difficult time discriminating good sellers/product from bad sellers/product.  The REAL problem is that the Web suffers from major information asymmetry issues.  That is why bad guys are successful at defrauding consumers. 

Please think about my diagnosis for a moment… If consumers could tell the difference from the good guys and the bad guys, would shoppers ever unknowingly buy a counterfeit item?  Of course not!  Fraud happens because of information asymmetry.

I think you will find the "Designer Duds: Fake or Real?" news segment very interesting.  However, as you watch this clip, please understand that the counterfeit/fake/stolen goods fraud problem is due to a more fundamental e-commerce problem… Buyers can’t reliably tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys!  In economic terms, this is called information asymmetry, and it is causing legitimate, professional merchants millions of dollars each and every day.

Kudos to Jeff Grass, buySAFE’s CEO, for a job well done!

Related blog posts and e-commerce articles:
"Designer Duds: Fake or Real?" by Janice Lieberman on The Today Show and iVillage.com
"buySAFE Invited By the French Government to Help Stop Online Sales of Counterfeit Luxury Goods" by Travis Brown on the buySAFE blog
"eBay Bonding Service buySAFE Featured on Today Show" by Ina Steiner on AuctionBytes.com
"buySAFE Appearance on 3/20/2007 Today Show" on AuctionBytes.tv

Stop Worrying! How to Solve the eCommerce Trust Problem.

Jeff Grass, buySAFE’s CEO, recently posted a comprehensive article on the eCommerce Trust problem, and how buySAFE is specifically designed to tackle this big issue.  Jeff does a great job of laying out the requirements for effective online trust and safety solutions, and I thought you might enjoy the read.

"Stop Worrying! How to Solve the eCommerce Trust Problem. (A must read if you sell or buy online!)" by Jeff Grass on buySAFE’s blog

If you have any thoughts, insights, or comments on Jeff’s article, I would be very interested in hearing from you.

France, Luxury Goods, and the Counterfeit Problem

Travis Brown, buySAFE’s General Counsel & VP of International, recently spent a week in France as a guest of the French government.  The purpose of the trip was to learn more about the exploding counterfeit goods industry, and to explain how bonding merchants and buySAFE could significantly mitigate this  huge problem.

I found Travis’ post to be one of the best I have ever read on the issue of counterfeit goods, and I am sure you will agree.  I encourage you to give it a quick read.

"buySAFE Invited By French Government to Help Stop Online Sales of Counterfeit Luxury Goods" by Travis Brown on buySAFE’s blog

I am very interested in your thoughts and insights regarding the counterfeiting issue, so please share.

Related articles and blog posts:
"buySAFE Takes on the Issue of Counterfeit (Knock Off) Merchandise" by Fraud, Phishing and Financial Misdeeds

buySAFE Announces New Partnership With Travelers

Today, buySAFE announced a new partnership with The St. Paul Travelers Companies, one of the largest financial institutions in the world with more than $113 billion in assets.

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The new Travelers relationship adds another major U.S. financial institution to buySAFE’s growing team of business partners.  The Hartford Financial Services Group and The Rutherfoord Companies are major investors in buySAFE, and in 2005, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company joined with buySAFE to provide significant surety bond capacity for buySAFE’s rapidly growing business on eBay, Overstock.com, and TIAS.

Continue reading “buySAFE Announces New Partnership With Travelers”