B2B, B2C, B2B2C, and B2S

In the startup world, “B2B” and “B2C” are familiar terms that were coined in the 90s:

B2B = startups whose customers/users are businesses
B2C = startups whose customers/users are consumers

Lately I’ve been hearing “B2B2C” which although a bit clumsy sounding is useful:

B2B2C = businesses who partner with other businesses to reach customers/users who are consumers

Finally, I propose the term “B2S” to refer to an especially risky type of startup that usually emerges in markets where VC money is plentiful:

B2S = businesses who sell only or primarily to other startups


17 thoughts on “B2B, B2C, B2B2C, and B2S

  1. Soren Macbeth says:

    My favourite are startups built upon other startups who then sell primarily to other startups.

  2. tarullo says:

    B2S is a nice way for a B2B company to launch a minimum product and get some early validation before evolving to a more polished enterprise-ready product. But maybe it’s also a nice way for a VC to gut-check a market opportunity if a company doesn’t have a plan to sell to anyone outside their social network.

  3. chris dixon says:


  4. jonathanglick says:

    Shouldn’t this just be rendered “BS,” Chris?

  5. Soren Macbeth says:


  6. chris dixon says:

    @tarullo I think b2s is a fine way to start. you just don’t want to get super dependent on other startups the way many startups in the 90s were.

  7. upnext says:

    Seems like a lot of B2S situations are just S2S hoping that the B materializes later.

  8. Vamshi Mokshagundam says:

    Also, if startups are not your actual target market, you wouldn’t really be able to validate most of your key assumptions by starting with them…startups tend to make quick decisions and this can skew your view on sales cycles.

  9. hansoo says:

    Chris – You offer a nice lesson in beta: http://www.wikinvest.com/metric/Beta, where the “greater market” is the startup/venture world and a B2S company has a very high beta.

  10. chris dixon says:

    @hansoo – agree, it is about beta. startup exposed to startups is doubly exposed to startup / VC market.

  11. johnnygleeson says:

    30. Startups for startups. The increasing number of startups is itself an opportunity for startups. We’re one; TechCrunch is another. What other new things can you do?

  12. johnnygleeson says:

    Some of the last post got clipped. Its from Paul Graham http://ycombinator.com/ideas.htmlAny thoughts on his encouragement of B2S Chris?

  13. Krishnan A.V says:

    Any examples for a B2S Startup ?

  14. raanraan says:

    And let’s not forget the BS2BS model, which seems to flourish when there is an excess of money in the system.

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