In a move to expand its recently launched Auctions service, Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) has agreed to purchase LiveBid.com, which produces Internet-based auction software. LiveBid’s technology enables brick-and-mortar auction houses to “broadcast” their auctions simultaneously over the Internet, and for online bidders to participate in the offline auctions. According to Amazon, LiveBid’s software is the only one of its kind.
The transaction will pair Amazon.com’s 8 million customers with the LiveBid.com proprietary software to give local and regional auction houses full access to a vast Internet auction community. LiveBid.com is a Seattle-based company formed in 1996 that pioneered live, event-based auctions on the Internet.
Utilizing LiveBid.com’s patent-pending real-time software technology, auction houses are able to broadcast their auctions over the Internet. Online bidders can participate in live auctions in real time, competing directly with bidders present at the auction site.
“The big winners here are the world’s traditional auction houses,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “Appraisal and authentication are important, and no one can do it better than established and expert auctioneers. We’re going to actively team up with them so they can expand their reach with LiveBid.com’s technology and Amazon.com’s 8 million customers.”
LiveBid.com’s technology has been used successfully with a number of famous auctions at some of the nation’s leading auction houses. These include the 1999 O.J. Simpson estate auction; the auction of the only complete Titanic ticket in existence; the auction of a 460-acre Victorian village in Moodus, Connecticut; and, the renowned Kruse International Scottsdale Classic Car Show — one of the world’s largest collector-car auctions, where the original Batmobile featured in the movie “Batman Returns” was sold to an Internet bidder.
According to Matt Williams, president of LiveBid.com, “This is the next logical step for the [brick-and-mortar] auction industry to grow by incorporating the technology and power of the Internet.”
“There will be no geographic barriers between auctioneers and bidders,” Williams said. “We like to think of it as expanding the buyer base of an auction house by using a mouse as a paddle.”
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The merger is expected to close within the quarter.