TorStar Goes With LiveDeal for Local Auctions

For a short time, eBay experimented with a Local Trading unit, which specialized in autos, sofas and other things “too heavy to ship.” But in 2001, it closed down the unit, which didn’t fit into its plans for eBay Autos, greater transaction fees, etc. By doing so, eBay took the chance that it would be left vulnerable to competitors filling the void.

Sure enough, jump to 2005, and a flurry of companies are ready to take advantage of the increasingly clear relationship between local auctions, classifieds and transactions. One of them is Santa Clara-based LiveDeal.

Launched by a former eBay engineer in 2003, the 25-person company lists 200,000 items for sale every day, and gets about 500,000 unique viewers a month. LiveDeal’s big news this month is that it has landed $4.8 million in financing, including $3 million from TorStar, the progressive publisher of The Toronto Star and dozens of smaller community and daily papers in Ontario. Other investors in this round include Draper Richards, a VC firm, and individual Silicon Valley investors.

We had the opportunity to talk with Vice President of Development Steve Harmon about the company’s progress. Details from the conversation, and more background, continues below.

Usage Study: 22% Quit Yellow Pages for Net

Just 22 percent of American adults say they strongly agree that “the Computer” has replaced the print Yellow Pages (YP) in their lives, according to The Yellow Pages Association’s 2005 Industry Usage Report, which was conducted by Knowledge Networks among 9,208 adults.

But even some of those adults apparently sneak a look at The Yellow Pages once in a while. The research showed that 89 percent use the print YP at least once a year, 75 percent at least once a month, and 51 percent at least once a week.

While penetration remains strong, usage continues to fall. Currently, adults who use the Yellow Pages average 1.29 lookups a week, down from 1.4 lookups in 2003 and over 2 lookups in the 1990s. The decline in lookups was especially severe in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles, where residents average .6 lookups per week.