I Want This at Listia's Free Auction Site


Image: Listia

"I Want This," is the rallying cry of a new Craig's List-meets-Linden Labs on-line auction site, Listia. "I Want This for Free," is the business model. Listia could be the answer to anyone who ever wondered what to do with something they don't need, but which is much too fine to simply discard. Or who wanted to trash some stuff, without adding to the pounds per person landing in the dump each day. But how does it work for "free"? And can it serve a need that is not already addressed by Freecycle, Craigslist, or eBay?Listia auctions work like eBay, but are based on credits instead of cash -- like "Second Life" by Linden Labs. You get 500 credits for joining, and credits you earn by selling stuff on Listia are added to your account so you can bid on other stuff to fill the space you just made. Clearly a "stimulus package" is needed to get this cycle started: you can stimulate your buying power by purchasing credits 10 for a dollar.

One might imagine that the 10 for a dollar exchange rate would discourage retailers from coopting the site to push the usual consumer crap. After all, who wants to sell something that should cost $9.90 for 99 credits? One might be optimistic too. It is already clear from the types of listings that this site will support ordinary consumerism alongside good-intentioned recyclers.

And Listia is using valuable "rewards" like the new Samsung 32 inch LCD HDTV to encourage people to sign up and check it out. But you will note the rallying cry is not "I'll recycle this!" or "I Want to Keep This Out of Landfills." Well, perhaps the ends justify the means. Listia is donating the proceeds from rewards auctions to charity.

Unlike Freecycle and Craigslist, Listia is not community based. It is up to the offerer and interested party to work out shipping, but Listia may help move things to a wider audience. This can also balance out the areas with more demand to find used goods with those that have excess to offer, which is often a supra-community phenomenon. Not having to make complicated bank connections may also encourage newbies to try it out. And Listia seems to avoid the spam email consequences of transactions on craigslist.

In conclusion, Listia will be only as good as its community. If people use in another on-line consumerist frenzy, the true benefits will not be realized. But competition can lead to the evolution of better options. For example, Listia is developing a way for users to donate proceeds from their "sale" to a charity of their choosing. Give Listia a try if you want to get rid of that exercise machine or VHS collection.

Listia was created by The company was founded by Gee-Hwan Chuang and James Fong with funding from venture capitalist firm Ycombinator.

More on On-line Recycling:
Listia
Freecycle.org: It really works
This Holiday Season, 'Tis Better to Freecycle Than to Buy
TH Forums: Hooray for Freecycle
Yahoo! Green Page and Freecycle

Tags: Activism | Communities | Consumerism | Social Networking

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