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AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Mon Jan 29 2007 22:20:49

Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
Does eBay see Linden dollar signs? The company has banned the sale of virtual game items, but made an exception for items from Second Life, owned by Linden Lab. Second Life (SL) is a 3D virtual world that anyone can join, and participants (called avatars) buy and sell virtual goods using a virtual currency called Linden dollars. Users can purchase virtual Linden dollars with real money (including PayPal) - and then use those Linden dollars to buy virtual goods, such as clothing, furniture, buildings and land.

eBay says it "pioneers communities built on commerce, sustained by trust and inspired by opportunity." Does the SL virtual world, also called a metaverse, inspire opportunity for eBay? I can only speculate, but eBay founder Pierre Omidyar was impressed enough with SL to have invested "real" money in the project. And there is precedent for eBay to follow Pierre: eBay invested in MeetUp, a social networking site backed by eBay's founder.

At the time, an eBay executive was quoted as saying, "Meetup.com and eBay share a focus on using the Internet to connect people and create communities."
 
It's not a stretch to think eBay would be interested in ecommerce in a virtual world - or Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, for that matter. Companies have already been brainstorming on how to market to Second Life participants. The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School held a two-hour panel discussion in Second Life in June entitled "Avatar-based Marketing: What's the Future of Real-Life Companies Marketing to Second Life Avatars?"

Besides marketing to avatars, there's real money to be made on SL, though it's impossible to say how big the opportunity is, and how sustainable it could be. According to a January 22, 2007 article in Fortune magazine, "In December, Linden Lab estimated that 17,000 residents had positive cash flow in Linden dollars, with about 450 generating monthly income in excess of $1,000 (that's U.S.)"

Second Life Avatar

eBay called attention to Second Life when it was reported by Slashdot on Friday that eBay had banned virtual game items, a post that was followed up by a Cnet article on Monday stating that eBay was making an exception for Second Life.

When asked if other virtual worlds would also be exempted from the ban on virtual items, eBay spokesperson Hani Durzy told AuctionBytes that Second Life is the only one he would get specific about. He said eBay is familiar with Linden Lab, as it is a member of the PayPal Developers Network.

When asked, Durzy said Omidyar had nothing to do with eBay's decision to exempt SL. Pierre is Chairman of the Board and is not involved in the day-to-day operations at eBay; the decision was made at a policy team level, Durzy said.

As for Omidyar, this is what he had to say when his organization invested in Second Life in 2004:

"Second Life has a vibrant community where content creators and consumers reinforce one another. Better experiences attract more users, which further attracts entrepreneurial developers to enrich the experience. Opportunities abound and value is determined by the community."

Sound familiar?

PS: While it's always fun to speculate about acquisitions, it may not be necessary to own the platform in order to play the game. Thoughts, anyone? I'm also interested in who has ventured into Second Life,...
 
Reading AuctionBytes Blog: Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
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Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
by: Ina Steiner
       
Mon Jan 29 22:54:17 2007
I forgot to mention that ValleyWag was the first outlet to mention that Pierre was an investor in SL in their reporting on the eBay virtual game item ban:
http://digbig.com/4rcdr

Valleywag has been writing a lot about Second Life lately, not flattering.
Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
by: Randy Smythe
       
Mon Jan 29 23:31:56 2007
Unfortunately eBay can't get the real world right. How are they going to get a Virtual World right?

I think the exemption is mostly geared to SL's relationship to PayPal. There may be bigger things in store there.
Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
by: firemeg
       
Tue Jan 30 00:41:17 2007
M-O-N-O-P-O-L-Y

This is ridiculous. When I first read the OP, I was just thinking that eBay was having their heads a bit too far up their butts again, but then I read a few more articles.

So lets recap....

In the past week, eBay has outlawed every form of payment except Paypal for new users AND outlawed all virtual products except for the company that Omidyar invested in.

That's just sad.
www.firemeg.com
Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
by: Anonymous
       
Tue Jan 30 01:55:09 2007
The truth is much simpler.  eBay is banning trading of virtual goods because technically, people do not own these goods.  The end user agreements of games like World of Warcraft say explicitly that the game company owns them.

Second Life is the exception because, currently, they are the only game like this where they explicitly grant intellectual property rights to the users.  I'm sure eBay will allow other games onto the site if they also grant rights to their users.

Sorry to burst your bubble, I know conspiracy theories are more fun.
Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
This user has validated their user name. by: Bidofthis.com
       
Wed Jan 31 22:56:15 2007
Re: Anonymous
somewhat disagree.
most Electronic Recorded Media these days seems to restrict resale.
So why not ban the sale of all software?  the end user sure doesn't own it.
Also when is this EULA made available to the end user? Before or AFTER the purchase?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clickwrap
Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
by: Kathleen Lupole
       
Thu Feb 1 10:32:08 2007
If ebay is so bad, why is everyone on it? It seems to me that everyone forgets that ebay and Paypal are businesses. They are supposed to make money!

I have been to Second Life and will probably join it in the near future. I think it's great!
Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
by: firemeg
       
Mon Feb 5 19:36:21 2007
Why not ban all software sales?  Many software makers do not sell the code, but merely a license to use the software.  So technically, you don't own the software, yet eBay allows sale of software.
Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
This user has validated their user name. by: Bidofthis.com
       
Tue Feb 27 13:10:51 2007
Perhaps linden may be an accepted form of payment rather than real dollars.

If I remember correctly, Paypal was also founded by the same folks who started Cybercash....
Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
This user has validated their user name. by: Bidofthis.com
       
Tue Feb 27 13:13:57 2007
http://www.cybercash.com redirect
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.cybercash.com
<
BR>you
know something...
I think it's not if then will accept the linden... it's when will they?
Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
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Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?   Could eBay Be Planning a Second Life?
by: mike
       
Thu Jan 31 08:39:10 2008
An exception for Second Life but everything else is banned? It’s not an exception out of good will money’s being made and someone wants more. World of Warcraft being the largest MMORPG is someone to compete with. SL Paypal and Ebay are all working together to try and compete with them by limiting how people can pay, play, and trade their characters and virtual goods. If an account is paid up each month I doubt Blizzard is going to complain if you sell your character. Everyone with a business can always use some more  working capital . Selling virtual goods has become a real business with real money for a lot of people. People build websites only to sell them in the future. Doing the same thing with virtual characters is no different. The IP laws is to keep you from developing a game and using the same character names and other similar features which violate IP laws.

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