Wade Gerten

CEO, 8thBridge
Wade Gerten

• Building a software platform that allows retailers to sell directly via Facebook

We are social animals, and social shoppers, too. The biggest influence on our buying decisions isn’t ads but what our friends are buying. Today, more and more buying cues are being conveyed through online social networks, and Gerten is helping brands and retailers convert this buzz into sales, with just a few clicks.

Gerten’s three-year-old start-up, 8thBridge (it changed its name from Alvenda in January) has created a distinctive way to monetize social media. 8thBridge builds Facebook-integrated e-commerce stores for its clients, with tools that allow customers to tell their friends what they’ve bought and help those friends buy the same thing, all without leaving their news feed.

In July 2009, 1-800-Flowers, using 8thBridge’s technology, become the first retailer to open a store within its Facebook page. 8thBridge’s clients also now include Hallmark, Brooks Brothers, Avon, Lands End, and Delta Air Lines.

Groupon, LivingSocial, and their innumerable imitators have soaked up most of the “social e-commerce” attention so far; 8thBridge is carving out its own niche. Social e-commerce, Gerten says, is no “less exciting than what happened in the ’90s with e-commerce in general. It’s that big.”

Biggest challenge: “Building an integration platform that allowed merchants to extend all of their existing products and business rules . . . into Facebook without impacting the client’s IT team. This allows us to launch a big brand on Facebook in eight weeks without requiring help from IT resources.”