Disney to Give Auctions a ‘Go’

Infoseek Corp. (Nasdaq: SEEK) and The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) added auctions to their GO Network Internet portal Wednesday, becoming the fourth of the top six Internet domains to host its own auction service.

Yahoo!, America Online and MSN.com, the top three domains ranked by Media Metrix, have led the auction charge, while Yahoo!’s Geocities and Netscape’s Netcenter, ranked fourth and fifth respectively, have yet to jump on the bandwagon. GO Network, listed sixth in Media Metrix’s domain ranking, has not broken the top 10.

GO Network Auction, like many of its competitors, highlights the most popular auction category — collectibles. “GO Network brings to the auction community more than 21 million users that can begin to trade everything from Mark McGwire’s bat, a signed Michael Jordan basketball, Stairway to Heaven sheet music signed by Led Zeppelin, an autographed guitar from Bruce Springsteen and other unique products in a variety of categories,” the company says.

Disney Values

GO Network Auction will also bank on parent company Disney’s reputation as a family-friendly company. GO Network, launched in January 1999 by Infoseek and Disney, is the online home of ABCNEWS, ESPN, Disney.com and Family.com. GO Network Auctions says it hopes to improve upon its competitors’ performances in providing safe, reliable, fun auctions.

For safety, Infoseek inked a long-term agreement with i-Escrow Inc. to provide shoppers access to i-Escrow’s services as they exchange goods for payment. The service protects buyers from online fraud by allowing them to deposit money in an escrow account and direct i-Escrow to release payment to the seller once the item is received in good condition.

For sellers, using i-Escrow’s service is a way to demonstrate to customers the seller’s reliability and trustworthiness. The transactions include a $2.95 (US$) fee that covers shipping insurance.

More Safety Concerns

In an additional safety move, sellers must be 18 years of age or older with a valid credit card to list a product on GO Network Auctions. GO Network Auctions will also automatically screen all listings for “offensive text and images” and will manually screen them for “offensive content” before the listing can appear on the site. The auction site will also guarantee all auctioned items for up to $250.

For reliability, GO took a lesson from other auction sites that have crashed under heavy traffic loads. The new auction site has a three-tier architecture that separates its Web, application and database servers on different machines to allow more dependable data backup, Infoseek says. In addition, the site will use Infoseek’s infrastructure and search engine.

For fun, GO Network Auction shoppers can create personal watch lists for items without actually participating in the bidding process. They can also support radio station charity auctions around the country by bidding on items highlighted in a special box on the auction site’s home page.

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