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Fobo – the 97 minute auctions that seem to be catching fire in San Francisco

fobo

There’s a small startup, operating out of a storefront office somewhere deep in San Francisco which looks to be turning the world of online auctions on its head. The team behind Fobo are the same folk that delivered Yardsale for the iPhone, only now they’re aiming at the heart of the eBay machine.

Fobo is also an iPhone app, only this time it’s all about instant auctions for electronics. Put your item up for sale and the app will give an instant estimate of the likely selling price, and you’ll get 97 minutes to sell it to any interested parties.

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Sounds weird right? How can it sell in that time? Well one even weirder part is if it hasn’t sold in that time, Fobo will buy it at the price. Yep, that’s like eBay buying stuff if no-one bids. Totally crazy.

fobo3

We’d call shenanigans on the whole thing, if it wasn’t for the fact that a) it’s being backed by some silicon valley bigwigs and b) it seems to work. The company is boasting of a million dollar run rate at the moment, mere months after launching in beta. The reason appears to be the fact that people are impatient, and yearn to have fun buying and selling things for bargain prices.

But we’re still not understanding how it will scale beyond one small-ish city. We’re also not sure whether they’ve deserted Yardsale completely, leaving it to linger in that startup zombie limbo that we all know and dislike so well. Anyway, it’s definitely something to watch.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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