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Thu Jan 1 2009 13:00:09

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

It's official - the eBay Live Auctions live-bidding platform is dead. If you type in the URL in your browser, you'll be redirected to the eBay.com home page. eBay had announced in April its decision to cut the service at the end of the year.

After John Donahoe took over from Meg Whitman as President and CEO in March, eBay began trimming (some might say slashing). In the first month of Donahoe taking the CEO office, eBay announced it would close eBay Live Auctions. The service had allowed auction houses to incorporate Internet bidding with their real-life auctions (similar to phone bidding, only conducted through the Internet).

AntiqueWeek's Eric Rodenberg wrote a piece in the December 22nd issue on how auction houses are coping, and introduced some of the players in the live bidding field. Erick interviewed Brandon Harker, owner and founder of Auction Flex, an auction-management software developer. Brandon said that while eBay probably had the worst platform in the industry, it brought the eyeballs (bidders).

It's not clear how closing eBay Live Auctions brought shareholder value, and it will be interesting to see how companies like LiveAuctioneers and GoAntiques carry on in the new year.




Comments (27) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Thu Jan 1 13:48:15 2009

Live auctions should have been a continued source of exponential growth.  Too bad eBay didn't promote them enough and too bad eBay did not offer cost effective levels of service to smaller auctioneers.  Local auctions all over the country are attended in large part by eBay sellers who buy at on-site auctions to resell.

If eBay had reached out to professional auctioneers, the auction industry would have greatly benefited.  eBay would have also benefited by having professional business minded auctioneers and auction houses and companies listing a large portion of the items that are non-commodity items.  ...instead of having a large amount of the listings on the site being listed by get-rich-quick home-based sellers who have little business knowledge or skills.

A greater concentration of Live listings would have kept things exciting for the online auction buyer who likes to bid.  No sniping, but real time bidding.  If you are a buyer and like going to on-site auctions, imagine how nice it would have been to bid online on items that were 3000 miles away while watching the real-time floor bids and simulcast videos of the auctioneer and bidding floor.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: Patricia

Thu Jan 1 14:07:14 2009

I only hope they manage to get rid of Donahoe and his "team" early this year!  Ebay desperately needs an experienced sales team to get it thru this utterly destructive mess Donahoe caused all thru 2008!  If they wait too long there won't be any of Ebay left to pick up!

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: social police

Thu Jan 1 14:38:54 2009

their strategy is to spread as wide as possible with many entities and they will burn (ie: close) any small entity even ones they own such as ebay live to ensure viability/profitability of the core which they have complete control over -- classic monopoly

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: John

Thu Jan 1 16:03:08 2009

IMHO I think one of the reasons for discontinuing the live auction platform was performance on the action halls part. Based on eBay's new DSR carp and  the new search I think it would have been difficult to accommodate the auction halls. Most live halls DSR ratings and feedbacks were not the best. It would effect their search and even selling record if they had to follow the same rules as everyone else is suppose to follow. With the exception of the diamond sellers of course. I wonder if Live auctioneers or Go will host them on eBay. Then eBay could say they (the live auction halls) are monitored through a third party and not obligated to follow eBay's policy....It wouldn't surprise me in the least if they pulled something like that.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: the people

Thu Jan 1 17:01:05 2009

same concept

1-eBay initiates DSR
2-eBay knocks off liveauctioneers (its competition)
3-eBay invites back 1 or 2 "friend" diamond entities and says they no longer need to follow DSR.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Thu Jan 1 17:17:56 2009

Ebay was guilty of providing the same kind of favoritism to their favorite "live" auctioneer players just as they do to the sellers/power sellers/diamond, platinum, etc etc sellers that they do now. Only one of the OTHER live auctioneers got wind of what was happening and had some attention called to the fact that this ebay "favorite" was given a tool to get all their auction listings streaming in before the other auctioneers who were standing in line patiently waiting for THEIR stuff to show up. (It's like getting in line in front of other people and getting the "go ahead" from the company owner who allows it).

I think ebay got caught in the act and had some trouble as a result of playing this "favorite auctioneer" as a front runner.

I can see where the other honest auctioneers were very upset by this, and were not all that unhappy about the platform closing. Many of the live auctioneers were doing online auctions way before ebay ever even surfaced online.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: Lisa

Thu Jan 1 22:54:11 2009

First laugh of the year - thanks "Bob"

.instead of having a large amount of the listings on the site being listed by get-rich-quick home-based sellers who have little business knowledge or skills."

Yep, all those home-based sellers who aren't making fortunes because they're selling stuff they don't know anything about to re-sellers who do.  Who's getting rich on eBay selling right now? eBay's narrow tunnel-vision failed to take into account that with the economy as it is, nobody's going to buy those big ticket items that eBay is determined to sell.  Shame on you Bob for painting all home-based sellers with the same ignorant brush.

"imagine how nice it would have been to bid online on items that were 3000 miles away while watching the real-time floor bids and simulcast videos of the auctioneer and bidding floor."

You mean watching real-time auction employees shill? Oh yeah, that was a blast!  Like GoAntiques that didn't have "floors" at all.  That blatantly posted hidden reserves would be "protected" (shilled) and they failed to disclose condition - ever?  Good Riddance to Bad Practices.  eBay at least realized the potential for fraud with these live auctions they can't monitor who's bidding and can't control shilling.  One good move by a company otherwise on it's  way out.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: nadine

Fri Jan 2 01:58:09 2009

Lisa, when has eBay ever seriously tried to control shill bidding? When they hid all the bidders' names? It's an open invitation to shilling.

What they lost with the LiveAuctions is the air of legitimacy having real upscale auction houses such as Brunk or Skinners sell their high quality antiques on eBay. They had that; it's gone now, presumably because it didn't fit into the retail store model that's been all they can think about for the last two or three years.

Do you think those high end buyers will stay to buy mass produced Chinese goods? Hardly. They will move over to ArtFact and LiveAuctioneers. For antique dealers on eBay, this is like a mall losing its anchor store.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: Jay K

Fri Jan 2 06:28:35 2009

At this point, as an art dealer, my challenge is finding all of these auction sites online.
It will mean searching many many more auction sites , as well as, individual auction sites.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: Lisa

Fri Jan 2 08:39:44 2009

There were too many complaints about GOA not being a legitimate auction house because it wasn't.  They were a licensed auctioneer who operated like an online mall, allowing their sellers to list items for live auction.  But there were never any floor bidders and eBay emailed me to defend the practice of allowing the auction houses to bid up prices to protect a reserve.  That's not how you protect a reserve.  Either an item meets reserve or it doesn't.  Bidding on something with the intent to drive up the price (shill) is a problem with any virtual auction.  Companies like Skinners or Sothebys have other outlets and are well-attended whether they're online or not.  But item condition descriptions are sorely lacking and the feedback spoke volumes.  Sometimes things shouldn't be auctioned online without better descriptions or more pictures.

As far as eBay allowing shills by hiding IDs, you're absolutely right.  But since eBay is trying to become the online big box megaplex, they figure that will become a non-issue as more items are fixed price listings and the auction format goes away.  Most sites have their  own auctions now, even Sharper Image and others.  Trying eBay is just testing the water.  When the small niche collectible sellers are gone, and the big companies expected to fail in '09 fail, eBay will be left holding Donahoe's big book of good ideas, scratching their heads and wondering why they're considering Chapter 11.  They've already had layoffs.  More to come.  eBay can't sustain previous income levels when sellers don't see STRs that were promised and they start to realize that people associate eBay with what it used to be.  Not what it's trying to become.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Fri Jan 2 10:06:52 2009

Lisa-
Obviously not all home sellers are clueless, fraudulent, bad, etc.  And also, many auction houses that held Live auctions were far from being the best eBay sellers you could find.

Shilling will happen....everywhere.  No possible way to control it.  I see on-site auctioneers do it all the time.  There is only one local auctioneer that I have never seen bump the price.  At least a dozen times a year I see the executor/executor's family or consignor in the audience at on-site auctions shilling.  I know of numerous local dealers who sell on eBay that have gone to extremes to shill, even after the hidden ID's and supposed new protections (including multiple ID's, phone network or other dealers who will assist with the shilling etc.).  Heck, in my ten years of using ebay as a buyer and seller, I have seen quite a bit of evidence that eBay actually participates in shill bidding either by employees or bots.

And when I mentioned the growth potential of Live auctions, I was not considering Goantiques as a source of Live Auction growth - those items in a larger percentage than on eBay were purchased from on-site auctions by dealers.

Five years ago, if you wanted to attend an auction, you had to look at the newspaper.  Now auctionzip.com has a huge following of auctiongoers and auctioneers.  The internet is only about 15 years old, it's growing exponentially in terms of users and in terms of people using it for commerce.  Like many, I feel that eBay has headed down the wrong direction for continued growth.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: Kitty

Fri Jan 2 10:31:08 2009

@Bob

Ow, That kinda hurt.
I'm one of those home-based sellers.
There are thousands of us who honed our skills knee deep in mud at craft fairs and antique fairs for years before we put our first listings up.
Does an auctioneer's license make one seller better than another?
No way, both can be equally honest or equally despicable.

As for me, I will wear my ''home-based'' seller badge proudly.  I worked selling for over 25 years to earn it.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Fri Jan 2 13:00:34 2009

So what happend to Goantiques with the shill or auctionfloor bidding thing?
Everybody knows: They have no auctionfloor. Did this go to court ? Is there any legal action on the way ?

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: Henrietta

Fri Jan 2 14:50:00 2009

Poor Bob

The TWAUMA of having to deal with the great unwashed, utterly lacking in culture or couth, I shudder for you.

At one point in time I was working on building a Tuscan Woodland Violet tea set. Vintage 50s - 60's not particularly rare, certainly not antique, generally priced in the under $10 range for a mint cup and saucer by those ignorant and lacking in business skills home based sellers who used to be found on eBay.

To my astonishment one fine day I found one listed at an opening bid of 49.99 on one of those live auctions, a single cup and saucer. Upon investigation there were quite a few hoops I had to jump through to qualify to even bid on this "fine antique" priced 500% over prevailing market value and carrying a buyers premium forsooth!

I was surprised, but not delighted. Amused at seeing a mass market produced item at most 55 years old called a fine antique.

Being one of those ignorant home based buyers, I know my place and its not throwing my hard earned money into the pockets of "professional business minded auctioneers and auction houses and companies" who couldn't produce the volume the eBay market demands in a day if they took a year to stock up.

No loss to eBay on the whole.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: nadine

Fri Jan 2 16:41:05 2009

Bob is right, it would be quicker to list those auction houses that don't treat the reserve as a bid and try to prevent shill bidding. They are much fewer in number. What goes on with goantiques goes on in the live auction houses, day in and day out.

But as for the home based sellers, the only edge the good ones have is superior knowledge of what they sell. Auctioneers have to cover the gamut and tend to know the minimum needed to sell the item, if that.

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: anon

Fri Jan 2 18:14:35 2009

Donahoe gotta go

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: beachy

Sat Jan 3 10:06:54 2009

Let's recap here.

1. eBay gives preferential treatment to a "favorite" live auction seller.
2. eBay denies preferential treatment.
3. eBay ultimately gets caught.
4. eBay gets sued in federal court.
5. eBay announces end of live auctions.

So what's the difference between this and the preferential treatment diamond powersellers get?  I don't see any!

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Sat Jan 3 22:20:17 2009

You might find the legal eagles blog clarifies the story somewhat. GoAntiques was "allegedly" accused, and there was no proof. Their response was the reserve price mechanism generated the response.

The issue was with the 2 huge online auctioneers mentioned in this blog. Take a look, it's very interesting, and illustrates how ebay treats it's good sellers.

http://legaleagles.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/ebay-live-
auctions-lawsuit-summary/#comment-26

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Sat Jan 3 22:34:55 2009

By the way, the GoAntiques suit was back in 2006,and has nothing to do with what has been going on with some of ebay's really big live auction players. Here's some more, if you want to educate yourself a little more..
http://legaleagles.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/ebay-search-mani
pulation/

eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.   eBay Live Auctions, R.I.P.

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Sun Jan 4 07:47:24 2009

Thanks  ocd, this is what I was looking for.

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