Wednesday, May 11, 2005

eBay Live Auctions Rocks!

Quick note - Part of my job is to manage a quirky platform called eBay Live Auctions ( It's semi-integrated to (you'll see a link on the left on the homepage and search listings with a blue paddle next to them). It lets you tune in real auction house sales and compete against floor bidders via a java applet on your computer. If you were ever curious about live auctions or are in the mood to buy antiques, fine art, jewelry or memorabilia - go check it out.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Picasso and the next stage of online advertising

As a junior in college I took an art history course in Madrid. A typical guy like me took art history to 1) impress attractive appreciators of art and 2) to avoid bi-weekly lectures on Don Quijote and his sidekick Pancho(?). No surprise, after 11 years all of it has been forgotten (now that I'm married not even reason 1 holds anymore). That said, ol' art history did leave a few strong impressions...

1. There's plenty of posers but only few original works of art.
Picasso is a great example of a pure original. The result was not always pretty, but Picasso created something blindingly new by taking on a completely 'tweaked' perspective. Greatness from non-conformity, irrationality (and potentially some very good drugs). Once Picasso crossed that threshold, the mob of posers followed. Bob Ross' hair notwithstanding (where do all those landscape paintings end up anyway... probably eBay), now any MBA/ex-consultant can be a cubist.

In the online realm, MS, Netscape, eBay, Google, Yahoo (to name a few) represent complete originals. Perhaps they weren't the first to conceive the idea, but they were certainly the first to fully execute new concepts with blind faith through the 2000-2002 implosion. Much like watching that first acrid plume of black smoke at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, we were witnesses to a new epoch of information transparency and commercial democracy. Markets literally underwent a cataclysmic shift as consumers engaged with increasingly integrated mediums of online communication and commerce. That said, over a decade has passed since the start of this thing and many of the new ideas seem a lot more evolutionary than revolutionary. Now any MBA/ex-consultant can create a search and auction site by buying off-the-shelf software (Wagglepop we barely knew you) or through high-volume Chinese manufacturing purchases of Overstock...

2. Great art begat Good art begat Crap art begat Great Art
The Van Goghs and Picasso's of the world took vicious, irrational leaps of faith from the rubble of the conventional to become great. That said, the number of artists who attempted the same and remain nameless are legion. But without these numerous failed attempts, the craft would never have evolved.

So it goes online. Take the example of From our friend Senor Gross at Idealab! this is a fairly innovative and new take on search - 1) buyer keyword optimization through real-time keyword usage queries 2) natural search algorithm that focuses on a mob of Snap! online census takers gauging real-time clicks, average page views and traffic monetization and 3) a best effort pay-for-performance ad system. I wont assume that THIS is the next viable competitor to Google, but I love the fairly significant leap of faith to introduce a more effective search model. Snap feels more edgy than the vertical and specialized search crew, more Picasso than Bob Ross.

So hear hear to the innovators at Idealab! (and countless other entrepreneurs) as they risk following the footsteps of Don Quijote and Pancho(?) with the windmills and giants and stuff (gawd that book made no sense), all to pursue the unconventional, irrational (non-drug-induced) great and original concept made real.
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