Copious takes a stab a social commerce

June 15, 2011

Facebook is keen on seeing established industries get re-built with a social networking foundation, holding up the success of game-maker Zynga as the standard template.

So it’s not surprising that a former Facebook employee is behind a new effort to “socialize” e-commerce.

Copious, which launches in beta on Wednesday, aims to create a marketplace that makes heavy use of a person’s network of friends and acquaintances. Buyers and sellers use their real identities, logging on to the marketplace through Facebook Connect, so users can have more trust in the people they transact with, the company says.

Jonathan Ehrlich, who until a few months ago worked as head of marketing at Facebook, said Copious analyzes Facebook users’ public profile as well as the items they have previously “liked” to pitch them merchandise for sale that matches their interests.

Sellers, which can include both retailers such as eBags and individuals selling goods, can juice their marketing efforts by tapping into a customer’s network, offering discounts to users who “share” sale listings with their network of friends or who agree to “follow” a seller.

Founded by Ehrlich, Jim Rose and Rob Zuber, Copious has raised $2 million in seed funding from backers including Google Ventures, Foundation Capital, BlackBerry Partners Fund and several Facebook angel investors.

Another interesting wrinkle to the company is that Ehrlich and Rose co-founded MobShop, one of several group-buying services that popped up and then flamed out during the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s. Of course, group buying has now become one of the hottest businesses around, with the emergence of Groupon and Living Social.

Hopefully, Ehrlich and Rose will find that their timing, and the market’s readiness for social commerce, will be better this go around.

Photo: A screenshot of Copious

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