Today I spoke with Mark Britton of Avvo — the Seattle-based statup that aims to streamline the delivery of legal services. Being in “stealth mode,” Mark could not tell me all that much, but confirmed that Avvo is on track to launch this summer. Here is what I managed to find out.
Ed. Note: To me, the fact that Avvo got funded at all means a sea-change may well be in the works that could bring a new player to the legal services scene with an altogether different set of values, and that would shake things up!
Me: First things first — why the name “avvo?” Is is short for something?
Mark: It’s a derivation of the Italian word for lawyer.
Me: How do you pronounce it?
Mark: However you like, just some to site once we launch.
Me: When will that be?
Mark: Summer 2007
Me: What will your focus be?
Mark: Consumers nationwide find themselves unable to penetrate the complex, confusing legal marketplace. We will bring the law to consumers in a meaningful way. How we do that will be our hook or “value add.”
Me: You’ve worked with Richard Barton of Zillow and Expedia, right? Both of those sites also aim to simplify what were often mystifying markets — real estate in the case of Zillow and travel in the case of Expedia.
Mark: Rich was my boss at Expedia when it was with Microsoft and created Zillow later. Microsoft wisely created an internal team around Expedia that allowed it to earn its own place in the market [and later spin off] by applying its own algorithms to raw data from computer reservation systems (CRS) maintained by the different airlines.
Me: The way Zillow makes use of MLS data to deliver value directly to those seeking to buy and sell homes?
Mark: Yes, an apt analogy would be the way Zillow brought the MLS to consumers by adding value.
Me: There are many things you can’t tell me right now, is there anything you would like to add?
Mark: We believe that being funded by a sophisticated investor like Ignition validates the business model that we have in mind, and are excited about the possibilities.
Good luck Avvo. Let us know how it all works out.