It’s the end of an era. eBay is shutting down its Turkish marketplace GittiGidiyor, which it acquired back in 2011. It’s an important event for me since GittiGidiyor was the first investment I’d made as an early-stage investor back in 2006.
I must say it was the highest-conviction investment I’ve ever made. I had just started looking at the consumer internet market in Turkey, mapping it against proven models in more developed markets. When I met GG, triangulating the size of the Turkish economy at the time (~$600b), the lead that the company had over its competitors, and the quality of its team, I felt that it was almost certain to be an early champion in Turkish e-commerce, and fortunately, that foresight was validated with the eBay acquisition. I joined the small club of angel investors whose first investment turns out a big return. It was my first investment exit and the beginning of my VC career, and the journey was almost textbook.
The company’s story afterward also plays out like a cliché. The founders exited post-acquisition and the company was run by professional management. The advantage of entrepreneurial drive in growth markets, which served the company until then, became its Achilles heel, as competitors emerged, challenged, and eventually, overtook GG. The Turkish e-commerce market created a few giants, while GG got relegated to being barely relevant. It was clear that it was never a priority for eBay, which let the company wane and slowly die.