Sell Your IPhone, Earn Bitcoins; Glyde CEO on New Virtual Currency Payout

Betting a bitcoin payout will motivate more people to sell their old gadgets, Glyde Inc. is offering the virtual currency to customers.

Since launching in 2009, the electronic thrift shop has allowed people to easily sell their old iPhones, tablets and other devices, much like eBay Inc.EBAY +0.95% and startups Nextworth Inc. and Gazelle Inc. The company suggests a price, provides a shipping envelope and takes roughly 10% of each transaction.

Expanding its payout to sellers from U.S. dollars to bitcoin is a next step calculated to bring more sellers to the site and possibly generate some fresh revenue on the exchange margins, according to Glyde Chief Executive Drew Lieberman.

Glyde Inc.
Glyde CEO Drew Lieberman

The move comes as both enthusiasm for the virtual currency and concerns run high.  Although Inc.OSTK -2.16% and Zynga Inc.ZNGA +3.67%  have recently joined Reddit  Inc., OKCupid Inc. and others in accepting bitcoins, majorprice fluctuations triggered by hackers, trading halts and dismissal by some countries has tempered some of that enthusiasm.  Fuzzy government regulation in the United States adds to the uncertainty.

Mr. Lieberman says the risks are worth it for the Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup, which recently raised another $1.2 million from Charles River Ventures for its bitcoin experiment and expansion into sports, household items and other new categories.

The following conversation is edited for length and clarity.

Why are you adding the option for sellers to get paid in bitcoins?

We want to give people an opportunity to get bitcoins in an easy way. We think there’s a lot of excitement and energy around Bitcoin.

How will it work?

People will see an estimate for the price for what they are selling in bitcoin as they list the product. When they withdraw the money, after the item has sold a few days later, they’ll see the actual amount they will be paid in bitcoins. They can choose that or dollars.

Couldn’t that be a big difference? Bitcoin prices have fluctuated a lot. Are you prepared for that volatility?

We’ll continue to test to see what costs we’re incurring and risks we’re taking. It will be a small source of revenue for us.

When you launched in 2009, the focus was on helping Midwestern soccer moms buying and selling CDs, DVDs, books and cartridge games. How has the target changed?

It tended to be a little younger–more 18 to 34-year-old males. And gamers in particular who are a little more techno-savvy. We pivoted to consumer electronics because the higher average selling price was more attractive.

How has that worked out?

We did about $10 million in gross sales last year.  We’ve also started to work with partners, like Ting Wireless and X Cellular, and embed in their marketplaces. You’re seeing our marketplace, but it’s on their site.

With the recent $1 million or so from CRV, Glyde has raised $28 million in funding in all. Why so much money?

We invested in making the user experience–both on the buy side as well as the sell side–as frictionless as possible. We patented several parts of our process, including product search, one-page buy, and an integrated shipping solution. Integrating bitcoin is one more extension of this.

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