MercadoLibre.com Opens its Market to the U.S.; Latin America's Premier Online Auction Site Debuts in North America.
After penetrating five key Latin American markets with country-specific sites, MercadoLibre is taking aim at the exploding U.S. Hispanic online audience, using an aggressive consumer advertising campaign, its proprietary technology and strategic alliances with such Web powerhouses as StarMedia, to take a commanding position in this space.
MercadoLibre's newest site offers a forum for U.S. Hispanic consumers to trade with each other and to purchase items from U.S. businesses and U.S.-based Latin American importers. This business-to-consumer feature of the site has already proven to be a success in Latin America, where large companies such as Xerox, Compaq, Renault SA and 3Com Corporation have found a solid distribution channel for their products. In just three days, MercadoLibre's Argentina site sold more Palm Pilots than any brick-and-mortar retailer in the country sold in an entire month.
"With a click of a mouse, Hispanics in the U.S. can easily buy and sell typical auction items such as electronics and collectibles as well as hard-to-find items from their native countries," said Marcos Galperin, CEO of MercadoLibre. "Whether it is dulce de leche from Argentina, silver jewelry from Mexico or a signed Brazilian World Cup soccer jersey, MercadoLibre brings a virtual Latin American marketplace to the U.S."
During the seven months following its founding, MercadoLibre has launched sites in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay and Chile, registering more than 25,000 transactions worth over $7.5 million. The company expects a higher volume of online transactions in the United States due to the greater Internet penetration in the U.S. Hispanic community -- close to a third of the 35 million Hispanics in the U.S. are already online. The company is rolling out an extensive multi-media ad campaign, beginning in Miami and expanding to other key Hispanic markets throughout the U.S. this year. Its recent alliances with StarMedia, AOL Brazil, and Ciudad Internet, the largest ISP in Argentina, have further expanded MercadoLibre's consumer base.
At MercadoLibre, consumers can buy and sell in more than 20 product categories and search for items by state or city. The site includes item descriptions and photos, customer reviews, extensive search functions, and other convenient auction options. MercadoLibre's proprietary technology allows the company to easily customize, update and scale its sites to meet the changing needs of its users and business clients in every market.
Miami-based MercadoLibre, Inc., was founded in August of 1999 by Marcos Galperin, Hernan Kazah and Marcelo Galperin. The company has offices in nine countries and has launched its web-based services in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, and Chile making it the first online auction site to launch in the region. With more than $7.5 million in closed auctions, MercadoLibre is the leading consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer online auction site for Spanish and Portuguese speaking communities. Today the company employs more than 110 professionals throughout Latin America.
In September of 1999 MercadoLibre closed a round of financing for $7.6 million with Chase Capital Partners, Flatiron Partners and Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst. In December of that year the company released its proprietary auction technology that is among the most advanced in the world.