A Tale of Efficient Markets

It was no monumental insight to recognise peer to peer markets were unlocked by the Internet. Though I guess I could have been a billionaire if I had VC backing to build a lot of the ideas that plopped out during the dot-com boom, that actually became the Uber and AirBnB and Fiverr of the current bubble (is there a nice name for it except FAANG? I’ll admit I’m less interested than I used to be).

But if you are like me and the interest is in getting a cheap product or service, things have changed. There are still some bargains to be had – we all get cheap travel thanks to Uber subsidising a car ride to use their monopoly market position and stock price to undercut a taxi – which is a very obvious game to capture market before they ramp up prices (or maybe destroy driver pay, or both!)

But this isn’t a message about fucked up markets, but a reflection on old market distortions.

In this case. ebay.

Everyone uses ebay, right? I guess the combination of predatory service fees and attempts to vertically integrate sales and payment turned a lot of people off- gumtree and facebook market place have certainly killed their classified business, but they used to be the only game in town for selling unique stuff, and I think they still are for some stuff.

I always used ebay as the market value for an item, but in the last years of the 20th century, and early 21st, ebay was very subject to the reduced market around public holidays. Sellers in the USA, especially used to list items on 7 day auction that closed on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, with the result we could buy stuff for an impressive discount, while the USA was offline.

It doesn’t work anymore, sadly, I guess because sellers have their phones nearby, but I will always remember fondly snatching auctions when the USA was busy – one of the few benefits from being in the wrong time zone.

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