Amazon acquires AbeBooks
Today Amazon announced the acquisition of Victoria-based AbeBooks, the company I have been involved with for over 7 years (operationally as COO until October last year, since then as Director and consultant). As you can imagine, I am extremely excited about this deal which makes tremendous sense for everybody involved: Amazon (who has been heavily focusing on the development of their third-party business for a long time) gets the worldwide leading marketplace for new, used, rare and out-of-print books and access to a (mostly unique) inventory of more than 110 million books from over 13,500 booksellers which fits perfectly with Amazon’s strategy of offering the Earth’s Biggest Selection to its customers. AbeBooks is furthermore very well positioned internationally with a strong European business and the launch of Gojaba, a no-frills marketplace that has already launched sites in Russia, Sweden, Brazil and Poland which again perfectly fits Amazon’s agenda of building a worldwide e-commerce presence. AbeBooks on the other hand gets access to Amazon’s vast financial, technical and marketing resources and will therefore be able to develop the business even faster. AbeBooks’ shareholders and employees finally will get a well-deserved exit that will hopefully provide a great example for other entrepreneurs and investors in this region to continue to invest in and build great consumer Internet companies. Reflecting on AbeBooks and my time with the company there is only one thing that I would like to change: I wish we had invested more in the years from 2002 to 2004 when everybody (including us) was extremely focused on just surviving and grabbing market share and buying other companies was much easier than it was in the following years. Jeff Bezos laid the foundation of Amazon in those years when he continued to invest heavily despite extreme pressure from the public markets. So at least AbeBooks now belongs to a company that is built on an aggressive investing gene – and it will be fun watching from the sidelines to see where Jeff and team can take AbeBooks over the next years. It has been an incredible ride since joining AbeBooks after the acquisition of JustBooks and I would like to thank the AbeBooks team for their hard work over this period of time – you guys simply rock! Other big thanks go to Christoph Braun and team from Burda Digital Ventures (now Acton Capital), our long-term partner in JustBooks and then AbeBooks (and today’s W Media venture partner) and certainly to Hannes, my co-founder at JustBooks, current AbeBooks CEO and business partner for now over 10 years. Building companies is never easy but doing so with a partner that you can 110% rely on at any moment makes it sometimes much less difficult – thank you, Hannes!