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Wharton Alumni Spotlight: Marc Lore, founder of Jet.com

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When it comes to online shopping, Jet.com co-founder and current President & CEO of Walmart’s e-commerce division Marc Lore has omniscient insight.

A native of Lincroft, NJ, Lore graduated cum laude from Bucknell University with a BA in Business Management/Economics in 1993 and later snagged an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Fresh out of college, Lore moved to London to spearhead the Risk Management divisions at Credit Suisse First Boston and Sanwa International Bank. But Lore had an entrepreneurial itch that banking couldn’t adequately scratch. He developed and quickly sold The Pit Inc., an e-commerce platform designed specifically for sports cards, to the Topps Company in 2001.

It was Lore’s e-commerce site Quidsi (co-founded with childhood pal Vinit Bharara) that really put him on the map, with offerings like Diapers.com, Wag.com and Soap.com that proved popular among young urban families throughout the early-mid 2000s. Quidsi and its subsidiaries were inspired by Lore’s own experiences keeping fresh baby supplies in stock at home.

From 2005 to 2010, Quidsi and Amazon were considered neck-and-neck in competition. Although Amazon emerged victorious in the early-oughts e-commerce sweepstakes, Quidsi were formidable opponents: in a move that both taunted and paid tribute to Quidsi’s chief competitor, Lore once offered Amazon Prime membership as a free gift to Quidsi users.

In 2010, Lore eventually acquiesced and sold Quidsi to Amazon for $545-550 million, posting up at his former competitor’s for two years before the entrepreneurial call proved too great to ignore once again.

In 2014, Lore co-founded Jet.com with Mike Hanrahan and Nate Faust as a unique e-commerce platform lauded as the “Costco of the Internet.” Jet.com’s model uses real-time pricing algorithms to sell products for 10-15 percent less than other online marketplaces but makes up the difference in an annual $50 membership fee.

Following a banner 2015 in which Lore and Jet.com were the subjects of a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story and received $140 million in pre-game funds from Bain Capital, Walmart acquired Jet.com in 2016 to the tune of $3 billion cash, plus $300 million in stocks.

Marc Lore

Lore’s successes can be attributed to his unique leadership style. According to an interview conducted with Wharton Magazine, his alma mater’s blog, Lore reduces his leadership ethos to three simple ideas he’s found have consistently empowered people: “Transparency, Trust and Fairness.”

In terms of transparency, Lore says he tries to foster openness with information at all the companies he leads to maximize the degree of investment employees have in their success. “I want to share as much information as possible with people so they feel empowered and they feel connected to the vision and understand how their work contributes to the overall goals of the company,” he explained.

With regard to trust, Lore says it’s about hiring people who “know their job better than you and not micromanaging, and giving them the rope and the resources to do their job.” Lore explained to Bloomberg Businessweek that he doesn’t make his employees sign non-competes, which means “there’s more loyalty and trust built.” He says, “I want to prove to myself that a different kind of culture can work and that you don’t have to be like that to be successful.”

When Lore talks about fairness, it’s about finding ways to put trust and transparency into action. Lore referenced one incident in which his CTO quickly realized a recent hire was employed at a level that was beneath their capabilities, so Lore orchestrated a $25,000 raise and equity bump to make things right.

“[If you] put a stake in the ground for a culture that’s based around fairness, even if you don’t agree with us in terms of where you think you belong, at least you know the lens that the company’s looking through is this fairness lens.”

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