|Thu May 8 2014 13:23:17|
eBay to Try Live Online Auctions... Again
By: Ina Steiner
eBay is going to give traditional auctions yet another try, this time partnering with a company called Invaluable, it announced today. This after John Donahoe closed its own eBay Live Auctions live-auction platform in 2009, a year after taking over as CEO of eBay.
It was never certain why Donahoe decided to shutter a profitable part of eBay's business, but early on, he disparaged eBay's "flea market" image, de-emphasized auctions, and launched a period of "disruptive innovation."
The decision to again enter the live-auction business is another of several reversals of Donahoe's strategic decisions. The company has also made significant changes to its fee structure and its feedback system in recent weeks.
In a press release issued today about the deal with Invaluable, eBay wrote:
"The partnership will offer buyers the opportunity to participate in traditional live auctions through real-time online bidding at auction houses around the world. Invaluable's software solutions, including their online live bidding technology, will make it easy for Invaluable's partner auction houses to bring over $4 billion of inventory onto the global eBay platform."
A spokesperson for Invaluable said the partnership to bring live online auctions to the eBay platform was exclusive.
"In the coming months, eBay will launch a new live auction destination, where buyers will be able to participate in traditional live auctions through real-time online bidding at auction houses around the world," she said. "Through the partnership, auction catalogs will be uploaded to Invaluable's live bidding platforms and promoted through eBay, expanding the reach of those sales to eBay's 145 million active buyers. We're extremely excited to bring the incredible selection of unique, high-end artwork, antiques and collectibles on the Invaluable platform to eBay's global community."
For many years traditional auction houses had a difficult time bringing auctions to the Internet, shoppers have become much more comfortable buying high-end items online. Since closing its live auction business in 2009, eBay has witnessed the success traditional auction houses are having online, as well as Amazon's move into offering fine wine and high-end artwork.
Just this week, Christie's announced it was investing $20 million in technology and digital engagement, and yesterday, Christie's CEO Steven Murphy told EcommercBytes the global audience for art is growing, museum attendance has increased again and the art market is continuing to grow.
"This is in part driven by the digital accessibility of art and imagery online," Murphy said.
So who or what is Invaluable? The company was formerly known as Artfact.
We'll be writing more about eBay's reentry into live auctions in Newsflash - please let us know what you think in the comments below.
Note: The post originally (briefly) attributed the quote from the Invaluable spokesperson as coming from eBay.