Wigix launches an eBay for 'passive' sellers

Bambi Francisco Roizen · April 29, 2008 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1ff

Wigix, a company founded by former Charles Schwab executives, on Tuesday announced the public beta service of a NASDAQ-style trading platform for goods, rather than stocks. The items that will likely fill this platform are those typically found in your attic or garage. While that may sound a bit odd, remember that eBay - which sports a $41 billion market cap - was founded in 1995 as a platform to sell PEZ dispensers. So, is Wigix out to compete with eBay?

Not exactly. Unlike the mega-marketplace, Wigix gives "transparency and liquidity that the eBay marketplace can't give you," said James Chong, Wigix's CEO, who visited the Vator studios to give us a tour of the site. How is eBay an illiquid marketplace?, I asked. James believes that because eBay charges sellers, there are many items that are not listed - and therefore the breadth of the inventory available for sale is not adequately represented. Wigix does not charge sellers or buyers listing fees in order to attract the many people out there who have stuff, but aren't necessarily looking to sell it.

Essentially, Wigix is a platform for the millions of accumulated goods stored or forgotten in dresser drawers or storage boxes. An example would be my 1998 Palm Pilot. It's just sitting in my drawer. Certainly, I'm not going to list it on eBay as the cost to list it would be as much as the price someone would pay for it. But if I list it on Wigix for free, and someone buys it, the effort may be worth my time. "One of our biggest innovations is our ability to open our market to passive sellers," he said. 

Sounds like a neat idea. But, there is a reason that eBay has ignored such "passive" sellers. There's not a whole lot of value in the stuff they "passively" want to sell.

But more importantly, eBay evolved from being a platform for selling collectibles and random items. EBay introduced listing fees to actually get rid of the chaff, so the average price per good sold was actually something substantial. Then to really be a business, eBay had to attract power sellers and large-scale liquidators of goods.

Wigix will have to do the same thing, I'm sure. It's not that a competitor can't come in and beat eBay at its game. Alibaba did in China, even if eBay had an early presence there.

But until that day that Wigix starts charging fees to clean up its marketplace, I plan on getting my old Canon 1 megapixel camera, my 35 mm camera and that 10-year-old Palm Pilot out on Wigix. Who knows? Maybe someone will find my junk worth paying for.

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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