SAN FRANCISCO EBay is pulling out of "live auctions," where members join in real-world auction-house bidding, in the latest in a series of moves to restructure its online auctions business, the company said on Tuesday.
The online auction leaders said it plans to shut down the eBay Live Auctions business as of December 31, 2008. The format represents a little-known, tiny piece of eBay's auction businesses -- most of which connect buyers and sellers online.
The service is located at www.liveauctions.ebay.com/.
Live Auctions represent a throwback to traditional open outcry auctions by linking eBay users remotely to auctions moderated by live auctioneers, both in physical locations or online. Unlike eBay's typical 10-day window for auctions to close, Live Auctions conclude when there are no further bids.
In a posting on one of the company's user discussion boards, a company executive said "maintaining and improving this platform falls outside our immediate focus, and will, therefore, be retired at the end of the year."
For several years, eBay has partnered with a small number of independent auction providers who in turn worked directly with the live auction houses to supply merchandise and auctioneers for eBay Live Auctions.
The move will affect several hundred eBay sellers who list their items directly using the Live Auctions format, said Jim Ambach, vice president in charge of eBay's Seller Experience.
(Reporting by Eric Auchard; Editing by Braden Reddall)