Marc Lore is a man who has gone up against Amazon several times and has been successful. For the past five years after starting Jet.com and being acquired by Walmart, he has been at the helm of Walmart’s e-commerce business efforts against Amazon. Last week he stepped down. This week we cover the lore.
Amazon is a really tough business to go up against. There are very few entrepreneurs who have gone up and succeeded.
How Amazon operates and behaves is almost like a monopsony. It controls or dominates the demand for goods and services with its marketplace and own brand products. It is very challenging to beat Amazon, because Amazon like most Big Tech do not portray themselves as a monopoly but have similar staying power.
Shopify’s mantra of “arming the rebels” is a direct reference and challenge to the retailing empire that Amazon has built - although what Shopify is doing may not actually be harming Amazon. Shopify’s arming the rebels is a nice marketing spiel, in reality they are arming everyone - arming of rebels requires Shopify to back a specific side. When Shopify arms everyone, no one is really armed. In such an environment, the ones with the bigger marketing budget and ability to distribute their goods is the winner… Amazon!
But when it comes to a case study on how to beat Amazon, one of the most notable is Quidsi. As one of Amazon’s largest acquisitions, Quidsi ran several sites with prime keyword domain names such as Diapers.com, Soap.com and Wag.com. Six years after the acquisition, Amazon had to shut down Quidsi as they weren’t able to get it to be “profitable”.
The founder of Quidsi and serial entrepreneur, Marc Lore, has gone up and won against Jeff Bezo’s Amazon. Lore also has some serious hustle. Having found opportune moments of arbitrage, he has gone up against Amazon several times successfully. He has made massive business exits from going up against Amazon and is quite a business creator!
📕 Marc’s Lore
“I am not going to accept that it can’t be done unless someone proves it is a zero probability. Often the case, you can’t prove it is zero. There is always some non-zero probability. It is typically the stuff that is close to the non-zero that nobody else is touching and that is where the opportunities are”.
Marc Lore’s story paints him in the light of having some of the stereotypical entrepreneurial traits. As a kid, he charged his family 5 cents whenever they wanted to watch Casper the Friendly Ghost on his slide projector - and he made up a story for each frame. He did other gigs that would make some money too, mowing lawns, picking weeds, selling newspapers and washing cars.
At 14, he started trading on the stock market and baseball clubs. Marc Lore was also a ‘numbers guy’. During high school, he snuck away to Atlantic City casinos to count cards. After high school, he did a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Economics. This was followed by a six years career in Investment Banking positions where Marc ended up heading the Risk Management divisions.
Marc Lore’s first foray into the startup game was to find a niche and compete with another ecommerce giant, eBay. In 1999, Lore co-founded The Pit, Inc., an Internet market-making collectible company alternative to eBay. Two years later, he sold the company to The Topps Company for $5.7 million.
According to Marc, one of the ways he is able to get huge wins is by putting himself in a position where the situation means what he is doing can’t not work.
For The Pit, Marc put all of his money - every penny into it.
In his second business, Quidsi (Diapers.com), Marc had most of his friends and family invest into it. That investment drove Marc to make it succeed as he didn’t want to disappoint those whom he cared about. Marc had to react, to go in. According to him, “once you are in the gear, you don’t think about it… run as hard as you can and you don’t look back”.
The other strategy is to do what others struggle with. When someone says something can’t be done, Marc Lore gets excited for the market opportunity.