Matt Mickiewicz: Hired, 99designs, Flippa

“Two-sided marketplaces are very defensible businesses once you get the wheels spinning. You become a preferred way of clearing a transaction over time.”

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“When I was 14 years old making thousands of dollars a month it definitely got to my head a little bit. Over time I realized that money is not everything and I pulled back on it, but it definitely bred some jealousy in high school.”

“People definitely thought I got lucky, not realizing how hard I worked, that I stayed up until 3 or 4 in the morning. There was a lot of self-sacrifice. My friends were out drinking and smoking on weekends while I was behind a computer screen. It definitely didn’t come free, by any means.”

“I’ve had the unfortunate experience as being featured on the Yahoo home page as a success story. There were about 3000 comments on the post, and most of them were very negative, people taking their own personal failings and frustration on me. I stopped reading through them.”

Two-sided marketplaces are a theme across Matt’s most successful businesses.

“Everything we’ve started we’ve tried to charge money for on day 1. We’ve never tried to build consumer webapps to sell to Facebook for a billion dollars.”

“The last three businesses were all marketplaces. Two-sided marketplaces are very defensible businesses once you get the wheels spinning. You become a preferred way of clearing a transaction over time.”

“Look at eBay, it’s a very old business. But you look at their financial filings–it’s a very nice company. Look at Craigslist, it’s the #1 place to get an apartment in San Francisco. It’s not because other people haven’t built websites with better UIs and better backends. Craigslist is where all the liquidity is, so it’s hard to dislodge.”

“I like businesses that create a lot of value in the world and take a small transaction fee. At 99designs we have paid out tens of millions of dollars to designers. At Flippa we’ve helped people sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of websites and domain names, taking only a small transaction fee. And at Hired we have helped hundreds of companies find fantastic engineers, designers, and product managers for a fraction of the fee of traditional recruiters.”

“We’re ultimately just a conduit which money flows through.”

“The genesis for Hired was our own frustrations with recruiting engineers at 99designs. As the company was scaling we were doing all the traditional things: job ads, recruiters, LinkedIn…at one point we were using thirty different recruiting agencies. I didn’t think they were earning the value they were charging.”

“I went on AngelList and went through 450 different recruiting and HR startups with the hope of finding something, anything better, but everyone was playing around the edges of the problem. There were startups doing video interviews, applicant tracking, background checks, personality and cultural quizzes, a bunch of companies selling scraped data. Nobody was saying I’m just going to get paid if I put a warm body in a seat.”

“Over $300 billion put into headhunting and recruiting fees every single year. Why isn’t there a single go-to place where I as a CEO or CTO can login and view the 400 best engineers who are interested in jobs in a given week? So we decided to create it.”