Andrew Chen wrote an excellent article about the different stages of services marketplaces, with a hypothesis on what is next.

  • He discusses the different stages of services marketplaces, and how they moved from simple listings services (solving the discovery problem) to taking over more parts of the service. Recent examples of marketplaces are more vertically integrated - they provide discovery, booking, hire the providers and ensure quality of service.
  • He talks about the future of services marketplaces being in the area of regulated services - where service providers are licensed or certified, by a government agency or industry organization. Regulated services include healthcare practitioners, food service operators, engineers and architects, and many more. There are over 125 million regulated service workers, so there is a large supply opportunity.
  • He discusses the unique challenges to unlock the next wave of opportunity for service marketplaces.

The last twenty years saw the explosion of a number of services coming online, from transportation to food delivery to home services, as well as an evolution of marketplace models from listings to full-stack, managed marketplaces. The next twenty years will be about the harder opportunities that software hasn’t yet infiltrated–those filled with technological, operational, and regulatory hurdles–where there is room to have massive impact on the quality and convenience of consumers’ everyday lives.

It’s an excellent read.