Dibs! Obscure Marketplace Company Nabs Former DoubleClick CEO David Rosenblatt.

David Rosenblatt has been named the CEO of 1stdibs, the relatively obscure online marketplace known among antique dealers and interior designers looking for one-of-a-kind furniture, art and lighting.

The former DoubleClick executive, who sold his company to Google for $3.2 billion, had his pick of high-profile jobs, but instead has landed at a company most people probably have never heard of.

You can be sure that between Rosenblatt’s appointment and an injection of capital from Benchmark, that’s about to change.

Both Rosenblatt and Benchmark’s General Partner Matt Cohler will join the company’s board. Neither 1stdibs nor Cohler would disclose details of the investment.

In an interview, Rosenblatt told me that, unlike DoubleClick, this is not an advertising play.

“What was exciting to me about DoubleClick was that it was an opportunity to usher an industry into the digital age,” he said. “I think we have a comparable opportunity here at 1stdibs in the luxury marketplace. That’s what gets me excited about it. It’s not an ads business.”

The company’s obscurity in tech circles did not dissuade Rosenblatt from the opportunity.

“I have never come across a company that is as unknown among the Internet crowd, but is known as well as it is in its vertical,” he said.

Rosenblatt quoted from a Bain & Company study to highlight the size of the opportunity. It found that only three percent of luxury spending was spent online as of 2009, even though the market size totaled $257 billion in 2010.

Already, Rosenblatt said, 1stdibs’ gross merchandise volume of goods (the value of goods sold by dealers on the site) was set to exceed $500 million in 2011. He said the average price of each item sold is $5,000, which sets it apart from other luxury players, like One Kings Lane and Gilt Groupe, both of which are focused on offering daily discounts for items.

1stdibs plans to expand into more categories and geographies for growth. It has already gone beyond furnishings to real estate, fashion, fine art and jewelry. The company is a marketplace, so it makes money by charging dealers a listing fee to post items on the site. Currently, it has 1,200 dealers, who sell 6,000 items a month. Because dealers and sellers connect directly, similarly to eBay, 1stdibs does not stock inventory or have to manage warehouses.

Rosenblatt said he discovered the company through Benchmark’s Cohler.

Cohler said he learned of the site through his brother, a well-respected interior designer who was helping him decorate his house.

Cohler said that countless items in his house were found on 1stdibs. “I was astonished to see how incredibly powerful it was,” he said.

Ironically, Cohler was able to close the investment with 1stdibs and recruit Rosenblatt faster than it took to redecorate his house, which “is never really done,” he joked.

Cohler said that Rosenblatt’s appointment will lend the company the operational expertise it needs to scale a large Internet company. “I don’t think there’s anyone better in the world to take the company forward,” he added.

The 1stdibs marketplace was founded in 2001 by Michael Bruno, who had the goal of bringing the Paris flea market — famous for its one-of-a-kind items — to the Internet.

Bruno, who Rosenblatt calls a charismatic entrepreneur, will continue to play an active role at the company by working on strategy and consulting directly with customers.

Rosenblatt will continue to sit on the boards of Group Commerce, Twitter and IAC.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik