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eBay of Latin America: Mercado Libre CEO Marcos Galperin (Part 1)

Posted on Saturday, Dec 8th 2007

I did this interview in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during my recent trip consulting with Mercado Libre, Latin America’s largest online marketplace. I found the story fascinating, and wanted to capture it for my readers all over the world.

SM: I would like to hear the story of how you built Mercado Libre. Let’s start with your background; where did you grow up?

MG: I grew up here in Buenos Aires. When I was 17, I went to college in the US. I studied at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania from 1990 to 1994. When I graduated I came back and worked for an oil company which was the largest oil company in Argentina. It actually has just been privatized through an IPO on the NYSE. I did finance there for three and a half years. Afterwards I went to do an MBA at Stanford. When I came back I started Mercado Libre.

Actually, I started it when I was at Stanford. I wrote the business plan and contacted investors in a class there. One of my professors put me in touch with one of the founders of a private equity fund; he let me drive him back to the airport after he came to speak to our class. I gave him an abbreviated business plan, and he thought it was great. They were investing pretty heavily in Latin America at the time; he thought it was great and told me he wanted to invest. That is how it all started.

SM: Your co-founder was also in your Stanford class, right?

MG: Hernan [Kazah] had accepted a job at a different company which was also a startup, but he agreed to help me out with some marketing ideas. He basically never stopped, and he became my cofounder.

SM: And your idea at the time was eBay of Latin America?

MG: That is exactly how we thought about it. Through Stanford, we contacted classmates and people at EBay to get a sense of where Latin America was on their radar screen to see if it made sense for us to launch something or not.

SM: Things turned out somewhat differently due to the market dynamics … we will find out how over the next few segments.

This segment is part 1 in the series : eBay of Latin America: Mercado Libre CEO Marcos Galperin
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I think this kind of thing is the true engine of development and route to greater economic stability. For Latin American economies to mature, they need to have sectors high up in the value chain. Seeing entrepreneurs like Marcos break through is a great sign.


Neil Saturday, March 22, 2008 at 4:18 AM PT

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Great post, wish there were more blogs like this around!

eBay Sunday, August 10, 2008 at 2:55 AM PT

I found this article when researching Mercado Libre who I had gotten a job offer from. This was an excellent article asking the right questions and gives me the mindset of the founder and what the company policy for the future is about. Much appreciated. Thank You. I am impressed with you as an interviewer and the company.

Jo Ann Dunaway Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 1:29 PM PT

Yes, Sramana is a great interviewer.
In Brazil, there are many people making their living only on ML.
On the other side, there are plenty of smugglers that operate informally, under the table, without proper accounting.

MgoncSilva Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 11:06 AM PT

[…] more on Galperin click HERE or HERE SHARE THIS: This entry was posted in All, Entrepreneur, International, Technology. Bookmark […]

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