July 08, 2003

Lotsa Luck

LotAuctions thinks it has a better way to do certain types of group auctions than eBay. Founded by Glenn Hauman, who previously founded Hell's Kitchen Systems (bought by RedHat for $85 million back in 2000), LotAuctions is currently a ghost town: 7 items are listed on the site, five of which are "test" items. Hauman's doing a soft launch of the site, and expects sellers to start posting items later this year. In his blog entry announcing the new company, he says, "When none of the big players nibbled, I decided to go and build the thing myself."

Thing is, when should an idea for a feature become a company and when should it just stay a feature? The whole concept of LotAuctions swirls around the idea of a better way to do lot auctions --- auctions where sellers try to sell a collection of items rather than a single item. Maybe it is a better way to do it. Maybe sellers will be intrigued to try it out.

But what about buyers? Where are they going to come from? What comes first, in terms of must-haves for sellers, in an online marketplace: buyers, or seller features? I think it's buyers. We'll see.

Another interesting twist to LotAuctions.com: the death of sniping. "Sniping" on eBay is the age-old tradition of holding out to the very very last possible second and then bidding on an item. Some users hate it, some love it. Sniping is a way of life at eBay. LotAuctions proposes to kill sniping once and for all by extending the end of an auction by 20 more minutes if there are any bids made within an auction's final 20 minutes. Now, as a seller I might like this because it forces bids higher. But as a seller I might hate this because it means potentially an auction could go on, and on, and on. Seems like a technically interesting feature, but from a market perspective, potentially deadly for buyer enthusiasm and patience.

I'll plan on revisiting this site later this year to see how it's doing. Posted by brian at July 8, 2003 02:54 PM


I wrote about eBay auction sniping a while ago; I think there's a part in there about dwindling time extensions, so that auctions can't go on forever. Any thoughts welcome, I hadn't heard of this new auction place when I wrote the article — so there's some interesting overlap with their implementation.

Posted by: Richard Soderberg at July 26, 2003 03:58 PM


Posted by: Richard Soderberg at July 26, 2003 04:03 PM

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