Formerly known as Auction Universe, Auctions.com was started as a division of Collectors Universe, a California company specializing in online auctions of rare collectibles. In August 1997, Auction Universe was sold to the Hartford Courant for an undisclosed sum. The following November, the Courant's parent company, Times Mirror, sold Auction Universe to Classified Ventures, a company jointly owned by eight U.S. newspaper chains. As a result, Auctions.com provides auction services on the Web sites of the more than 130 newspapers affiliated with Classified Ventures.
Throughout its existence, Auction Universe has struggled with low name recognition within the crowded world of online auctions, especially compared with industry leader eBay. When it purchased the site, Classified Ventures' plan was to use Auction Universe to introduce a network of local auction sites, but in November 1999, Classified Ventures changed Auction Universe's name to Auctions.com and relaunched the site to a wider audience. When the company appointed Kraig T. Kitchin and Brian Glicklich, both from Premiere Radio Networks, Inc., to its board of directors in January 2000, Auctions.com was able to launch a radio advertising campaign in an effort to boost name recognition.
Over the past year, Auctions.com has experienced much success with their international ventures. In December 1999, the company signed the leading Canadian publishing company, Torstar Corporation for which Auctions.com will provide consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer auction services. In Australia, Auctions.com partnered with John Fairfax Group to run Sold.com.au, which has become the No. 1 online site in the country and one of Australia's top 100 sites. Auctions' U.K. business is also prospering, made evident by their partnership with Freeserve plc, the U.K.'s largest Interent Service Provider.
As with other auction sites, Auctions.com is divided into a seemingly endless list of categories, including comics and cards, pet supplies, and electronics. It has attempted to differentiate itself from its competitors, however, with services marketed to both buyers and sellers. Through its Bid$afe fraud protection program, buyers and sellers can use Auctions.com as an intermediary: buyers avoid sending money through the mail or giving their credit card number to a stranger, and sellers avoid processing payments that don't clear. The program also offers up to $3,000 of insurance that covers all Auctions.com transactions. Auctions.com also offers a service known as FirstBidWins, which allows sellers to name a price for their item and take the first matching bid.
Auctions with a Conscience
The auction site has used its online services to aid both local and national charities. Already they have raised more than $2 million to help such organizations as The Walter Payton Foundation, Chicago's Cows on Parade auction, The Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation, the Oklahoma Tornado Relief Fund, and in February 2000 hosted the Hockey Fights Cancer/Dodge Online Charity Auction, which raised more than $400,000.
Openings at Auctions.com are listed on the parent company's homepage at www.classifiedventures.com. Resumes can be submitted electronically by filling an online form.
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