• Jeff Matthews

Overstocked and Underauctioned, Part Two

A full month has elapsed since Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne issued his “MOMENT TO STRIKE” bulletin urging his auction foot-soldiers to “HELP CONTACT EBAY BUYERS” to take advantage of eBay’s fee increase blunder.

Quothe the CEO: “As a result of these dynamics [eBay’s fee increase combined with Overstock’s fee decrease], our listings have soared from 50k to 90k in two days. The quality of listings is excellent. “

Well, we now have more than just two days’ worth of data to determine the potential boost to Overstock’s auction site—we have thirty. And the results are not promising for Overstock.com.

Overall listings on the Overstock auction site, by my count, are now in the 150,000 range, with a handful of categories (jewelry most notably) showing continued growth and a majority of others (coins, consumer electronics, crafts among them) not.

Clearly, the early momentum—40,000 of new listings the first two days after eBay’s price increase—did not continue. (I do not have daily data stretching back to Bryne’s “MOMENT TO STRIKE” proclamation, and welcome it here from anyone who does). Otherwise, Overstock’s auction listings would be far higher than 150,000.

In addition, the individual categories themselves do have not much action, when measured by the percentage of listings with more than one bid.

In coins, for example, only 268 out of 2,666 recent listings—just 10%—had more than one bid. Pottery and glass, only 10 out of 2,341…not even 1%. Antiques were slightly more successful, with 56 two-bids or more listings, out of 1,161—just under 5%. That lack of participation is not a good thing, and goes a long way toward explaining why Overstock’s auctions appear to have little traction.

Comparable data for eBay is impossible to calculate unless you have no life, because the eBay listings are so vast (205,000 in antiques alone, which is greater than all of Overstock’s listings). I would suggest to the Conspiracy Theorists who devote so much of their lives to detailing here and elsewhere the rambling, incoherent, paranoid fantasies they have constructed regarding naked short-selling to explain movements in Overstock.com’s stock price, that they divert just a few dozen hours of that time to looking at actual data such as the Overstock auction listings. Perhaps they can show where my calculations have gone wrong.

In any case, we will explore further Overstock.com auction data in Part III. For now, it would appear Patrick Byrne’s “MOMENT TO STRIKE” has come, and gone, without sparking much of a fight.

Jeff Matthews I’m Not Making This Up

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The content contained in this blog represents only the opinions of Mr. Matthews. This commentary in no way constitutes investment advice. It should never be relied on in making an investment decision, ever. The content herein is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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