Is Wigix an eBay Killer?

When it comes to online auctions I’m far more likely to be on the selling than the buying end. I am just not that into stuff. So I’m probably not the right person to evaluate a startup like Wigix, which launches its public beta today. The one-year-old business, which has raised $5.3 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson positions itself as a stock market for stuff.

That’s a stretch. The company allows members to list their stuff (cars, electronics and ladies accessories are the most popular items so far), and see what other people might be willing to pay for it. For example, if I have a Nintendo Wii listed, I could set an “ask” price of $400 for it. If anyone meets that price then Wigix would automatically generate the transaction. If I merely listed my Wii I could see that others on the site are “bidding” $400 for them and set a price.

Thus, members can view their stuff as a “portfolio” of goods and see what the market value is. It’s a concept similar to iTaggit, which allows collectors to list their collections online, but is based on generating an eventual transaction. Unfortunately, the value in any sort of market depends on the market having liquidity, primarily through getting a lot of users selling and buying the same items. While the Nintendo Wii is a liquid asset, I’m less sure how liquid the market for a Prada bag would be.

So for Wigix to make it as an eBay killer (or even as a successful market) it needs to combine its transparency with liquidity– by gathering a lot of users and selling goods that a lot of people want to buy and sell. In contrast, eBay made its claim to fame by finding a market for items that few people wanted (like vintage beer signs) and then became a liquid market over time. I’m not sure Wigix can duplicate such a feat, but I admire it for trying.