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Edgeio Edges Toward Launch--and a Clash with E-Commerce Giants?


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February 09, 2006

Edgeio Edges Toward Launch--and a Clash with E-Commerce Giants?

Rob Hof

Edgeio, the much-anticipated, secretive startup by onetime RealNames founder Keith Teare and TechCrunch blogger Mike Arrington, suddenly isn't so secret anymore. Although its "official" launch is weeks away, possibly Feb. 27--and the site is behind a password-protected wall--Teare spilled a lot of beans tonight at an SDForum online-classifieds event at the GooglePlex. ...

Clearly, Edgeio has more to tell, but what Teare did tell during the startup's first-ever public demo no doubt will get the attention of current powerhouses in Web commerce and classified ads, such as eBay and Craigslist.

Bear with me, since the demo was pretty quick and I'm not sure I caught everything exactly right. But essentially, Edgeio is doing just what its tagline says: gathering "listings from the edge"--classified-ad listings in blogs, and even online product content in newspapers and Web stores, and creating a new metasite that organizes those items for potential buyers.

The way Edgeio works is that bloggers would post items they want to sell right on their blogs, tagging them with the word "listing" (and eventually other descriptive tags). Then, Edgeio will pluck them as it constantly crawls millions of blogs looking for the "listing" tag and index them on Edgeio.com.

Also, Edgeio sends a trackback to the blog, providing a way for the blogger to go to Edgeio and modify the listing, adding other tags such as "autos" and other data that will further help the listing appeal to potential buyers.

Buyers get some interesting tools on Edgeio, too. You can search by geography, naturally. In fact, there's a cool slider that lets you zero in on a particular city. If there aren't enough listings, you can move the slider to a wider geographic area. Buyers also can filter listings by tag and see information on the blogger or publisher of the listing. Ultimately, buyers--if they choose to register as Edgeio members--can contact the seller directly by email.

Ad listing in blogs? Who does that? Today, almost nobody. And that's why this idea could work at all: Teare said the tag "listing" is found only about 10 times a day on millions of blogs, so it's an ideal, clean tag with which to create a unique index of "listings from the edge."

Edgeio also plans a reputation system. For now, there's a button for buyers to view the seller's eBay reputation, if she or he has one--big eBay "Powersellers" are an initial target here--but eventually Edgeio plans to embrace a more mobile reputation system.

Biz model? For one, Edgeio plans to charge Powersellers 25 cents a day to buy top positions on the page for their local listings. Later, Edgeio plans to run contextual ads, possibly Google's AdSense, to let local sellers run ads on the right column. And third, as prospective buyers subscribe to Edgeio RSS feeds for products they're interested in, those lists of prospects could be sold as qualified leads to sellers.

Although Teare's demo was on blogs, that doesn't appear to be the only target. He says this will work for single items on blogs all the way to millions of items from Web stores like Amazon. He contends that RSS feeds reduce the usefulness of centralized repositories of information--most big Web sites today, in other words. "EBays and Craigslists become unnecessary and the tolls they charge become unreasonable," he says.

Bet those companies will beg to differ. For that matter, not everyone at the event was so sure Teare was right about his notion that centralized databases have little value. And it may take a lot of marketing to get bloggers to post listings on their blogs and go to Edgeio to refine them.

But if the idea catches on, the Web's current giants--which have been disrupting traditional publishing, retail, and other industries--may face some disruption themselves.

01:10 AM

Search SIG, Web 2.0, advertising, blogs, craigslist, e-commerce, eBay

Rob,

Thank you for posting on edgeio. I was flying back from the DEMO conference and couldn't be there for Keith's demo, but it sounds like he described the service very well and that the audience got the idea. We are really excited about the upcoming launch!

Posted by: Michael Arrington at February 9, 2006 02:55 AM

I can see at least several micro-ISVs jumping on the bandwagon from the side of managing blog listings.

Posted by: Bob Walsh at February 9, 2006 12:53 PM

hey rob -

glad you could join us for the meeting. will be interesting to watch the "edge vs center" debate unfold, for edgio vs googlebase as well as others.

craigslist & ebay won't go softly into the night anytime soon, but i do wonder if the paid listings model for "internet shelf space" lasts forever.

as CPC did for CPM, i think increasing value-based pricing models will win out in the long run. and i agree with craig donato: more & higher quality leads, better conversion, and ultimately a cost-per-[trans]action (CPA) model will be the eventual nirvana we all arrive to.

business models based on performance-driven advertising and/or value creation are much more likely to succeed than not. (at least that's where we're betting our chips here at Simply Hired ;)

- dave mcclure

www.SimplyHired.com

Posted by: Dave McClure at February 9, 2006 01:46 PM

Rob:

My company iNods is in a similar edge content aggregation and search space. Edge content aggregation can really delivery a lot of value but there will be a lot of challenges in terms of consolidation and discovery of that edge content. In fact this is the real challenge for most edge aggregation plays.

The idea of asking users to tag their classifieds with "listing" tag is good but it's not trivial to achieve that on a large scale. Secondly, if the whole idea depends on this then it's tough to make it work. It is big chicken and egg problem here. Now assume that people start tagging their classfieds with "listing" tag - in this case it will be trivial for most blog search engines to roll out a similar service in a fraction of the the time and with a much wider coverage. Like a 'Technorati Classifieds'. I am sure edgeio has thought about this and probably has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, that are not evident :)

In almost all edge plays, I believe it is critical to have a stronger barrier to entry and/or some other community angle that makes it unique. We do have a similar challenge at iNods (we think we are solving the edge content discovery problem is a more defensible way) and you will see how we are addressing it with a range of our upcoming features.

Posted by: Vaibhav Domkundwar - iNods.com at February 9, 2006 07:07 PM

There's only 1 problem with this (probably many more). Classified sites need network effects and volume to be useful. Blogs and RSS mediums are not really mainstream. Yes, cool for geeks but even savvy internet users don't think about edge. Powersellers are powersellers because of volume. They won't pay if there's no volume. I guess if you spend your time writing about websites people think you know what you're doing. We shall see.

Posted by: Andrew at February 10, 2006 12:10 AM

I was at the google's place for thie demo. Very impressive technology. I especially like the slider thing for the geography. However, I don't really understand the market. Bloggers and RSS users are still minority among internet users. I don't like RSS since it tends to feed too much and I just couldn't read them all every day. It might be good for specific interest groups. If Edgeio is only for the bloggers, it will never be able to reach the scale of craigslist, not to mention Ebay. Anyhow, I do wish Edgeio will come up with something scalable on the way and good luck to Michael, whose TechCrunch is a must read for me everyday.

Posted by: David at February 11, 2006 11:51 PM

How to clone edgeio ( Ning style anyone? )

1.Install the XML DB eXist ( Its better than xindice ).

2.Write some ruby|python|java which iterates through your list ( plain text would do ) of rss urls and uses one of exist APIs to load them into the XML DB.

3.Program a nice search page, or allow users to use XPath/XQuery to extract the "listing tags", whatever they are ( I cant see them extending RSS ).

Place your adwords on site and you're done :-)

Posted by: Lyndon at February 16, 2006 07:20 AM

Bloggers and RSS users is an expanding minority that makes difference.

Posted by: Helen, ecommerce manager at March 28, 2006 01:19 AM

It's interesting to see that just days after Edgeio opened its doors, another, nearly identical, offering is opening up as well, called BlogBuy.ves/2006/02/edgeio_edges_ou.html

Posted by: Santana at June 15, 2006 03:46 AM

I ain't afraid of blogs. I'm scared of potentially spam bloggers.

Posted by: Laura at July 6, 2006 06:57 AM

A blogger can publish an item for sale and have it listed on edgeio within a matter of seconds and this is the thing i like most.

Posted by: lehman at July 27, 2006 05:00 AM

The fact that anybody can leave feedback on

ebay that can either ruin a seller is not the point, I have known sellers that have simply been delayed in sending

multiple goods, but have then had an avalanche of negative feedback, with a domino effect of paypal charges that

have ruined their ebay sellers career before it began, my main gripe with ebay is the extortionate final value fee that is proportionate with whatever you

sell your item for, this is way beyond the scope of interest, it is even way

beyond charging rental space and having the contents removed three months later (which lets face it is what

ebay is doing with your listing), the fact that ebay ontop of this

charges a final value fee, puts it on a par with a MLM money making scheme (

last I heard this was illegal under ebays terms and conditions, doesnt that

also make ebays business practice illegal), this is a HYIP pure and simple,

full of crooks, cheats, and scam artists, which ebay needs to maintain its over

inflated dividends, I wont even talk about its own payment processor, paypal,

a scam artists paradise, complete with chargebacks, where the seller is held

solely responsible, regardless of wether the items were sent or not.

Posted by: John wilier at September 17, 2006 07:37 AM

Now I'm thinging on your last paragraph "But if the idea catches on, the Web's current giants--which have been disrupting traditional publishing, retail, and other industries--may face some disruption themselves." If, for example, we take Google: gmail, library, hosting, search and so on. Do you really think that this can be destroyed? May be, of course, but not so soon. At least a few next decades this will be the most powerful company, I'm sure of that. But this will lead not to it's destruction, but to the development of other companies (I mean competition).

Posted by: flykoo at October 13, 2006 06:47 PM

This is very interesting. I like the concept and I totally agree it has a huge potential of disrupting the giants. Another very interesting and low-key start-up is www.MyBidList.com. It's an online auction "tool" that is free and geared for the local market.

Posted by: France at October 23, 2006 06:38 PM


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