How eBay Turned The Internet Into a Marketplace

The story of the modern web is often told through the stories of Google, Facebook, Amazon. But eBay was the first conqueror. One weekend in September 1995, a software engineer made a website. It wasn’t his first. At 28, Pierre Omidyar had followed the standard accelerated trajectory of Silicon Valley: he had learned to code in seventh grade, and was on track to becoming a millionaire before the age of 30, after having his startup bought by Microsoft. Now he worked for a company that made software for handheld computers, which were widely expected to be the next big thing.

But in his spare time, he liked to tinker with side projects on the internet. The idea for this particular project would be simple: a website where people could buy and sell. Buying and selling was still a relatively new idea online. In May 1995, Bill Gates had circulated a memo at Microsoft announcing that the internet was the company’s top priority. In July, a former investment banker named Jeff Bezos launched an online storefront called, which claimed to be “Earth’s biggest bookstore”. The following month, Netscape, creator of the most popular web browser, held its initial public offering (IPO).

By the end of the first day of trading, the company was worth almost $3bn – despite being unprofitable. Wall Street was paying attention. The dot-com bubble was starting to inflate. If the internet of 1995 inspired dreams of a lucrative future, the reality ran far behind. The internet may have been attracting millions of newcomers – there were nearly 45 million users in 1995, up 76% from the year before – but it wasn’t particularly user-friendly. Finding content was tricky: you could wander from one site to another by following the tissue of hyperlinks that connected them, or page through the handmade directory produced by Yahoo!, the preferred web portal before the rise of the modern search engine.

And there wasn’t much content to find: only 23,500 websites existed in 1995, compared to more than 17m five years later. Most of the sites that did exist were hideous and barely usable. But the smallness and slowness of the early web also lent it a certain charm. People were excited to be there, despite there being relatively little for them to do. They made homepages simply to say hello, to post pictures of their pets, to share their enthusiasm for Star Trek. They wanted to connect. Omidyar was fond of this form of online life. He had been a devoted user of the internet since his undergraduate days, and a participant in its various communities. He now observed the rising flood of dot-com money with some concern.

The corporations clambering on to the internet saw people as nothing more than “wallets and eyeballs”, he later told a journalist. Their efforts at commercialisation weren’t just crude and uncool, they also promoted a zombie-like passivity – look here, click here, enter your credit card number here – that threatened the participatory nature of the internet he knew. “I wanted to do something different,” Omidyar later recalled, “to give the individual the power to be a producer as well as a consumer.” This was the motivation for the website he built in September 1995. He called it AuctionWeb. Anyone could put up something for sale, anyone could place a bid, and the item went to the highest bidder. It would be a perfect market, just like you might find in an economics textbook.

Through the miracle of competition, supply and demand would meet to discover the true price of a commodity. One precondition of perfect markets is that everyone has access to the same information, and this is exactly what AuctionWeb promised. Everything was there for all to see. The site grew quickly. By its second week, the items listed for sale included a Yamaha motorcycle, a Superman lunchbox and an autographed Michael Jackson poster. By February 1996, traffic had grown brisk enough that Omidyar’s web hosting company increased his monthly fee, which led him to start taking a cut of the transactions to cover his expenses. Almost immediately, he was turning a profit. The side project had become a business.

But the perfect market turned out to be less than perfect. Disputes broke out between buyers and sellers, and Omidyar was frequently called upon to adjudicate. He didn’t want to have to play referee, so he came up with a way to help users work it out themselves: a forum. People would leave feedback on one another, creating a kind of scoring system. “Give praise where it is due,” he said in a letter posted to the site, “make complaints where appropriate.” The dishonest would be driven out, and the honest would be rewarded – but only if users did their part. “This grand hope depends on your active participation,” he wrote.

The value of AuctionWeb would rely on the contributions of its users. The more they contributed, the more useful the site would be. The market would be a community, a place made by its members. They would become both consumers and producers, as Omidyar hoped, and among the things they produced would be the content that filled the site. By the summer of 1996, AuctionWeb was generating $10,000 a month. Omidyar decided to quit his day job and devote himself to it full-time. He had started out as a critic of the e-commerce craze and had ended up with a successful e-commerce company. In 1997, he renamed it eBay. Ebay was one of the first big internet companies. It became profitable early, grew into a giant of the dot-com era, survived the implosion of the dot-com bubble, and still ranks among the largest e-commerce firms in the world.

But what makes eBay particularly interesting is how, in its earliest incarnation, it anticipated many of the key features that would later define the phenomenon commonly known as the “platform”. Ebay wasn’t just a place where collectors waged late-night bidding wars over rare Beanie Babies. In retrospect, it also turned out to be a critical hinge in the history of the internet. Omidyar’s site pioneered the basic elements that would later enable Google, Facebook and the other tech giants to unlock the profit potential of the internet by “platformising” it.

None of the metaphors we use to think about the internet are perfect, but “platform” is among the worst. The term originally had a specific technical meaning: it meant something that developers build applications on top of, such as an operating system. But the word has since come to refer to various kinds of software that run online, particularly those deployed by the largest tech firms. The scholar Tarleton Gillespie has argued that this shift in the use of the word “platform” is strategic. By calling their services “platforms”, companies such as Google can project an aura of openness and neutrality. They can present themselves as playing a supporting role, merely facilitating the interactions of others.

Their control over the spaces of our digital life, and their active role in ordering such spaces, is obscured. “Platform” isn’t just imprecise. It’s designed to mystify rather than clarify. A more useful metaphor for understanding the internet, one that has guided its architects from the beginning, is the stack. A stack is a set of layers piled on top of one another. Think of a house: you have the basement, the first floor, the second floor and so on, all the way up to the roof. The things that you do further up in a house often depend on systems located further down. If you take a shower, a water heater in the basement warms up the cold water being piped into your house and then pipes it up to your bathroom.

The internet also has a basement, and its basement also consists largely of pipes. These pipes carry data, and everything you do further up the stack depends on these pipes working properly. Towards the top of the stack is where the sites and apps live. This is where we experience the internet, through the pixels of our screens, in emails or tweets or streams. The best way to understand what happens on these sites and apps – on what tech companies call “platforms” – is to understand them as part of the broader story of the internet’s privatisation.

The internet started out in the 1970s as an experimental technology created by US military researchers. In the 80s, it grew into a government-owned computer network used primarily by academics. Then, in the 90s, privatisation began. The privatisation of the internet was a process, not an event. It did not involve a simple transfer of ownership from the public sector to the private, but rather a more complex movement whereby corporations programmed the profit motive into every level of the network. A system built by scientists for research was renovated for the purpose of profit maximisation. This took hardware, software, legislation, entrepreneurship. It took decades. And it touched all of the internet’s many pieces.

The process of privatization started with the pipes, and then worked its way up the stack. In April 1995, only five months before Omidyar made the website that would become eBay, the government allowed the private sector to take over control of the network’s plumbing. Households and businesses were eager to get online, and telecoms companies made money by helping them access the internet. But getting people online was a small fraction of the system’s total profit potential. What really got investors’ capital flowing was the possibility of making money from what people did online. In other words, the next step was figuring out how to maximize profit in the upper floors, where people actually use the internet. The real money lay not in monetizing access, but in monetizing activity.

This is what Omidyar did so effectively when he created a place where people wanted to buy and sell goods online, and took a cut of their transactions. The dot-com boom began with Netscape’s explosive IPO in August 1995. Over the following years, tens of thousands of startups were founded and hundreds of billions of dollars were invested in them. Venture capital entered a manic state: the total amount of US venture-capital investment increased more than 1,200% from 1995 to 2000. Hundreds of dot-com companies went public and promptly soared in value: at their peak, technology stocks were worth more than $5tn.

When eBay went public in 1998, it was valued at more than $2bn on the first day of trading; the continued ascent of its stock price over the next year made Omidyar a billionaire. Yet most of the startups that attracted huge investment during these years didn’t actually make money. For all the hype, profits largely failed to materialize, and in 2000 the bubble burst. From March to September, the 280 stocks in the Bloomberg US Internet Index lost almost $1.7tn. “It’s rare to see an industry evaporate as quickly and completely,” a CNN journalist remarked. The following year brought more bad news. The dot-com era was dead.

Today, the era is typically remembered as an episode of collective insanity – as an exercise in what Alan Greenspan, during his contemporaneous tenure as chair of the Federal Reserve, famously called “irrational exuberance”., a startup that sold pet supplies online, became the best-known symbol of the period’s stupidity, and a touchstone for retrospectives ever since. Never profitable, the company spent heavily on advertising, including a Super Bowl spot; it raised $82.5m in its IPO in February 2000 and imploded nine months later.

Arrogance, greed, magical thinking and bad business decisions all contributed to the failure of the dot-com experiment. Yet none of these were decisive. The real problem was structural. While their investors and executives probably wouldn’t have understood it in these terms, dot-com companies were trying to advance the next stage of the internet’s privatisation – namely, by pushing the privatization of the internet up the stack. But the computational systems that could make such a push feasible were not yet in place. Companies still struggled to turn a profit from user activity.

In his analysis of capitalist development, Karl Marx drew a distinction between the “formal” and “real” subsumption of labour by capital. In formal subsumption, an existing labour process remains intact, but is now performed on a capitalist basis. A peasant who used to grow his own food becomes a wage labourer on somebody else’s farm. The way he works the land stays the same. In real subsumption, by contrast, the labour process is revolutionised to meet the requirements of capital. Formerly, capital inherited a process; now, it remakes the process. Our agricultural worker becomes integrated into the industrialised apparatus of the modern factory farm.

The way he works completely changes: his daily rhythms bear little resemblance to those of his peasant predecessors. And the new arrangement is more profitable for the farm’s owner, having been explicitly organised with that end in mind. This is a useful lens for thinking about the evolution of the internet, and for understanding why the dot-coms didn’t succeed. The internet of the mid-to-late 1990s was under private ownership, but it had not yet been optimised for profit. It retained too much of its old shape as a system designed for researchers, and this shape wasn’t conducive to the new demands being placed on it. Formal subsumption had been achieved, in other words, but real subsumption remained elusive.

Accomplishing the latter would involve technical, social and economic developments that made it possible to construct new kinds of systems. These systems are the digital equivalents of the modern factory farm. They represent the long-sought solution to the problem that consumed and ultimately defeated the dot-com entrepreneurs: how to push privatisation up the stack. And eBay offered the first glimpse of what that solution looked like.Ebay enlisted its users in its own creation. They were the ones posting items for sale and placing bids and writing feedback on one another in the forum. Without their contributions, the site would cease to exist.

Omidyar was tapping into a tradition by setting up eBay in this way. In 1971, a programmer named Ray Tomlinson invented email. This was before the internet existed: Tomlinson was using its precursor, Arpanet, a cutting-edge network that the Pentagon created to link computers across the country. Email became wildly popular on Arpanet: just two years after its invention, a study found that it made up three-quarters of all network traffic. As the internet grew through the 1980s, email found an even wider reach. The ability to exchange messages instantaneously with someone far away was immensely appealing; it made new kinds of collaboration and conversation possible, particularly through the mailing lists that formed the first online communities.

Email was more than just a useful tool. It helped humanize the internet, making a cold assemblage of cables and computers feel inhabited. The internet was somewhere you could catch up with friends and get into acrimonious arguments with strangers. It was somewhere to talk about politics or science fiction or the best way to implement a protocol. Other people were the main attraction. Even the world wide web was made with community in mind. “I designed it for a social effect – to help people work together,” its creator, Tim Berners-Lee, would later write.

Community is what Omidyar liked best about the internet, and what he feared the dot-com gold rush would kill. He wasn’t alone in this: one could find dissidents railing against the forces of commercialisation on radical mailing lists. But Omidyar was no anti-capitalist. He was a libertarian: he believed in the liberating power of the market. He didn’t oppose commercialisation as such, just the particular form it was taking. The companies opening cheesy digital storefronts and plastering the web with banner ads were doing commercialisation poorly. They were treating their users as customers. They didn’t understand that the internet was a social medium.

Ebay, by contrast, would be firmly rooted in this fact. From its first days as AuctionWeb, the site described itself as a community, and this self-definition became integral to its identity and to its operation. For Omidyar, the point wasn’t to defend the community from the market but rather to recast the community as a market – to fuse the two. No less a figure than Bill Gates saw the future of the internet in precisely these terms. In 1995, the same year that Omidyar launched AuctionWeb, Gates co-authored a book called The Road Ahead. In it, the Microsoft CEO laid out his vision for the internet as “the ultimate market”: “It will be where we social animals will sell, trade, invest, haggle, pick stuff up, argue, meet new people, and hang out.

Think of the hustle and bustle of the New York Stock Exchange or a farmers’ market or of a bookstore full of people looking for fascinating stories and information. All manner of human activity takes place, from billion-dollar deals to flirtations.” Here, social relationships have merged so completely with market relationships as to become indistinguishable. The internet is the instrument of this union; it brings people together, but under the sign of capital. Gates believed his dream was at least a decade from being realised. Yet by the time his book came out, AuctionWeb was already making progress toward achieving it.

Combining the community with the market was a lucrative innovation. The interactions that occurred in the guise of the former greatly enhanced the financial value of the latter. Under the banner of community, AuctionWeb’s buyers and sellers were encouraged to perform unpaid activities that made the site more useful, such as rating one another in the feedback forum or sharing advice on shipping. And the more people participated, the more attractive a destination it became. More people using AuctionWeb meant more items listed for sale, more buyers bidding in auctions, more feedback posted to the forum – in short, a more valuable site.

This phenomenon – the more users something has, the more valuable it becomes – is what economists call network effects. On the web, accommodating growth was fairly easy: increasing one’s hosting capacity was a simpler and cheaper proposition than the brick-and-mortar equivalent. And doing so was well worth it because, at a certain size, network effects locked in advantages that were hard for a competitor to overcome. A second, related strength was the site’s role as a middleman. In an era when many dot-coms were selling goods directly – paid a fortune on postage to ship pet food to people’s doors – Omidyar’s company connected buyers and sellers instead, and pushed the cost of postage on to them.

This enabled it to profit from users’ transactions while remaining extremely lean. It had no inventory, no warehouses – just a website. But AuctionWeb was not only a middleman. It was also a legislator and an architect, writing the rules for how people could interact and designing the spaces where they did so. This wasn’t in Omidyar’s plan. He initially wanted a market run by its members, an ideal formed by his libertarian beliefs. His creation of the feedback forum likely reflected an ideological investment in the idea that markets were essentially self-organising, as much as his personal interest in no longer having to mediate various disputes.

Contrary to libertarian assumptions, however, the market couldn’t function without the site’s ability to exercise a certain kind of sovereignty. The feedback forum is a good example: users started manipulating it, leaving praise for their friends and sending mobs of malicious reviewers after their enemies. The company would be compelled to intervene again and again. It did so not only to manage the market but also to expand it by attracting more buyers and sellers through new categories of goods and by expanding into new countries – an imperative that shareholders imposed after eBay went public in 1998.

“Despite its initial reluctance, the company stepped increasingly into a governance role,” writes the sociologist Keyvan Kashkooli, in his study of eBay’s evolution. Increasing profitability required managing people’s behaviour, whether through the code that steered them through the site or the user agreements that governed their activities on it. Thanks to network effects, and its status as both middleman and sovereign, eBay easily turned a profit. When the crash of 2000–01 hit, it survived with few bruises. And in the aftermath of the crash, as an embattled industry, under pressure from investors, tried to reinvent itself, the ideas that it came up with had much in common with those that had formed the basis for eBay’s early success.

For the most part, eBay’s influence was neither conscious nor direct. But the affinities were unmistakable. Omidyar’s community market of the mid-1990s was a window into the future. By later standards it was fairly primitive, existing as it did within the confines of an internet not yet remodelled for the purpose of profit maximisation. But the systems that would accomplish that remodelling, that more total privatisation of the internet, would do so by elaborating the basic patterns that Omidyar had applied. These systems would be called platforms, but what they resembled most were shopping malls.

The first modern shopping mall was built in Edina, Minnesota, in 1956. Its architect, Victor Gruen, was a Jewish socialist from Vienna who had fled the Nazis and disliked American car culture. He wanted to lure midcentury suburbanites out of their Fords and into a place that recalled the “rich public social life” of a great European city. He hoped to offer them not only shops but libraries and cinemas and community centres. Above all, his mall would be a space for interaction: an “outlet for that primary human instinct to mingle with other humans”. Unlike in a city, however, this mingling would take place within a controlled setting. The chaos of urban life would be displaced by the discipline of rational design.

As Gruen’s invention caught on, the grander parts of his vision fell away. But the idea of an engineered environment that paired commerce with a public square remained. Gruen’s legacy would be a kind of capitalist terrarium, nicely captured by what urban planners call a “privately owned public space”. The systems that dominate life at the upper end of the stack are best understood, to borrow an insight from the scholar Jathan Sadowski, as shopping malls. The shopping malls of the internet – Google, Facebook, Amazon – are nothing if not privately owned public spaces. Calling themselves platforms, they are in fact corporate enclosures, with a wide range of interactions transpiring inside of them.

Just like in a real mall, some of these interactions are commercial, such as buying clothes from a merchant, while others are social, such as hanging out with friends. But what distinguishes the online mall from the real mall is that within the former, everything one does makes data. Your clicks, chats, posts, searches – every move, however small, leaves a digital trace. And these traces present an opportunity to create a completely new set of arrangements. Real malls are in the rental business: the owner charges tenants rent, essentially taking a slice of their revenues. Online malls can make money more or less the same way, as eBay demonstrated early on, by taking a cut of the transactions they facilitate.

But, as Sadowski points out, online malls are also able to capture another kind of rent: data rent. They can collect and make money from those digital traces generated by the activities that occur within them. And since they control every square inch of the enclosure, and because modifying the enclosure is simply a matter of deploying new code, they can introduce architectural changes in order to cause those activities to generate more traces, or traces of different kinds. These traces turn out to be very valuable. So valuable, in fact, that amassing and analysing them have become the primary functions of the online mall. Like Omidyar’s community market, the online mall facilitates interactions, writes the rules for those interactions, and benefits from having more people interacting with one another.

But in the online mall, these interactions are recorded, interpreted and converted into money in a range of ways. Data can help sell targeted advertising. It can help build algorithmic management systems that siphon more profit out of each worker. It can help train machine learning models in order to develop and refine automated services like chatbots, which can in turn reduce labour costs and open new revenue streams. Data can also sustain faith among investors that a tech company is worth a ton of money, simply because it has a ton of data. This is what distinguishes online malls from their precursors: they are above all designed for making, and making use of, data. Data is their organizing principle and essential ingredient.

Data is sometimes compared to oil, but a better analogy might be coal. Coal was the fuel that powered the steam engine. It propelled the capitalist reorganization of manufacturing from an artisanal to an industrial basis, from the workshop to the factory, in the 19th century. Data has played a comparable role. It has propelled the capitalist reorganization of the internet, banishing the remnants of the research network and perfecting the profit engine. Very little of this vastly complex machinery could be foreseen from the vantage point of 1995.

But the arrival of AuctionWeb represented a large step toward making it possible. The story of the modern internet is often told through the stories of Google, Facebook, Amazon and the other giants that have come to conquer our online life.  But their conquests were preceded and prefigured by another, one that started as a side project and stumbled into success by coming up with the basic blueprint for making a lot of money on the internet.


Source: ‘Wallets and eyeballs’: how eBay turned the internet into a marketplace | eBay | The Guardian

More contents:

eBay, Inc. 2021 Annual Report (Form 10-K)”. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Global Trade: 1. Finding International Items On eBay”

Skype and PayPal – A Different Set of Rules”.

PayPal Spinoff Day Has Arrived — What Does It Mean for Investors?”.

The Perfect Store.

How did eBay start?”

The perfect store

The eBay Business Model”

The Myths of Innovation

Ebay Enters The NFT Space, Launches First NFT Collection

“EBay Founder Pierre Omidyar Steps Down From Board”.

“Brand New: eBay Settles for Lowest Bid”

eBay selling fees”.

Ebay’s history – know your roots!”.

eBay Guides – Tickets Buying Guide”.

Taxes and import charges”.

eBay Inc. – eBay Inc. Outlines Global Business Strategy”

The brand that auctioned the www: eBay

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Five Oversold Small Cap Stocks And One Mid Cap For Bear Market Bargain Hunters

The S&P 500 is hitting new 2022 lows in this year’s brutal selloff leading up to Wednesday’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting where the Federal Reserve’s policy committee is expected to hike short-term interest rates aggressively to tamp down inflation. The large cap index is down 22% from its peak on the first trading day of the year and tumbled 10% in just the past week as the latest readings on inflation showed price increases accelerating. For small caps, the market’s stumble into bear market territory has been exceptionally severe, with the Russell 2000 index down 30% from its peak last fall and back to pre-pandemic levels.

There could be plenty of near-term volatility ahead as the Fed accelerates its rate-tightening cycle. JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs both expect a hike of 75 basis points this week, even though Fed chair Jerome Powell dismissed that possibility at its last meeting a month ago. Last week’s 8.6% inflation reading put central bankers on their heels. But with the stock bloodbath already well underway, investors and asset managers are licking their chops at some valuations, if they have dry powder to deploy.

“The risk in the stock market is far lower today than it was six months ago just by virtue of the correction that we’ve seen. A lot of the excesses are being flushed out as we speak,” says Nicholas Galluccio, co-portfolio manager of the $57 million Teton Westwood SmallCap Equity fund. “We think it’s a perfect setup for possibly a strong 2023.”

Galluccio’s fund has outperformed the market, losing 13% so far this year after a 30% gain in 2021, to earn a 5-star rating on Morningstar. He’s been on offense this year adding to his positions in several small caps trading at low valuations, including Carmel, Indiana’s KAR Auction Services, which builds wholesale used car marketplaces and generated $2.3 billion in 2021 revenue.

Used car retailer Carvana bought its physical auction segment for $2.2 billion in February, larger than the market cap of the company at the time, though the proceeds were used to pay down debt. The acquisition prompted a 38% one-day pop in KAR’s stock, but it has given back most of those gains in the recent correction. The deal hasn’t been as kind to Carvana, which has lost 91% of its value this year.

“We got very lucky that Carvana we believe overpaid for their physical auction business for $2 billion, which is an enormous sum,” Galluccio says. “Now they’re strictly digital with a virtually debt-free balance sheet.”

Another of Galluccio’s picks is Texas-based Flowserve (FLS), which manufactures flow control equipment like pumps and valves. Many of its customers are petrochemical refiners and exploration and production companies in the energy industry. Most energy-linked businesses have had a strong year with the price of crude oil surging, though Flowserve has lagged with a 5% decline. Its bookings rose 15% in the first quarter to $1.1 billion, and Galluccio expects its margins to improve as it builds its backlog.

Value investors are also looking at oversold areas of the market for stocks trading at tiny multiples and now offering attractive dividend yields. John Buckingham, portfolio manager and editor of The Prudent Speculator newsletter, likes the Whirlpool Corp. (WHR), a century-old home appliance manufacturer headquartered in Benton Charter, Michigan. With home sales falling, Whirlpool has exposure to an anticipated recession, but its stock is down 34% this year, trading at six times earnings, with a dividend yield over 4% and an appetite for buying back shares. While not a small cap, at $8.7 billion in market capitalization, this mid-cap has long been a favorite of value investors.

“Lower home sales are certainly a headwind, but the market has already discounted something far worse than what we think will ultimately occur,” Buckingham says. “If we have a quote-unquote ‘mild recession,’ I think that many of the businesses have already been priced for a severe recession.”

Another consumer business Buckingham singles out from his portfolio: Foot Locker (FL). The shoe retailer is down 36% this year, including a 30% drop in one day on February 25 when it said its revenue from its biggest supplier Nike NKE +2.5% would decline this year as the apparel giant increasingly sells directly to customers. Now, Foot Locker trades at a tiny 3.5 times trailing earnings, with a 5.7% dividend yield to attract income investors.

While those value plays are cheap, Jim Oberweis, chief investment officer of small-cap growth firm Oberweis Asset Management, makes the case that growth stock valuations are even more attractive after taking the worst of the selloff so far. The Russell 2000 growth index is down 31% this year, and Oberweis’ small-cap opportunities fund has declined 22%. One outperformer is its top holding, Lantheus Holdings (LNTH), which has already more than doubled this year.

Lantheus makes nuclear imaging products that can be injected into patients and make body parts glow during medical scans to help diagnose diseases. It received FDA approval last year for a product called Pylarify which can identify prostate cancer, and fourth-quarter revenue rose 38%. The Massachusetts-based company trades at about 20 times expected 2022 earnings.

“It’s very hard to find a company at 20 times earnings with those growth numbers and those kinds of moats in terms of patents and defensible market positions that are very difficult for competitors to attack,” Oberweis says.

Oberweis boasts that Lantheus has no correlation to the broader economic environment and recessionary fears. Some of his other top holdings do have some inflation exposure but have already been deeply discounted this year and are trading at multiples more typical of value names. Axcelis Technologies (ACLS), which sells components to chipmakers like Intel INTC and TSMC to make semiconductors, grew its revenue by 40% in 2021 and another 53% in the first quarter of 2022, but has declined by 25% this year and trades at 15 times trailing earnings.

“Small growth stocks, which have been bludgeoned, I think have much better prospects to do well in an inflationary environment because many more innovative companies have pricing power, the ability to quickly raise prices and get the customers to actually pay them,” Oberweis says. “I don’t know if it’ll be this year or next year, but I think people buying right now are likely to earn significant positive returns because of the low valuations.”

I’m a reporter on Forbes’ money team covering investing trends and Wall Street’s difference-makers. I’ve reported on the world’s billionaires for Forbes’

Source: Five Oversold Small Cap Stocks And One Mid Cap For Bear Market Bargain Hunters

In trading on Tuesday, shares of the Vanguard Small-Cap ETF (Symbol: VB) entered into oversold territory, changing hands as low as $180.29 per share. We define oversold territory using the Relative Strength Index, or RSI, which is a technical analysis indicator used to measure momentum on a scale of zero to 100. A stock is considered to be oversold if the RSI reading falls below 30.

In the case of Vanguard Small-Cap, the RSI reading has hit 29.8 — by comparison, the RSI reading for the S&P 500 is currently 33.6. A bullish investor could look at VB’s 29.8 reading as a sign that the recent heavy selling is in the process of exhausting itself, and begin to look for entry point opportunities on the buy side.

Looking at a chart of one year performance , VB’s low point in its 52 week range is $180.29 per share, with $241.06 as the 52 week high point — that compares with a last trade of $183.66. Vanguard Small-Cap shares are currently trading down about 0.5% on the day.

ACV Auctions (ACVA)

The company has been public for just under one year, having held its IPO on March 24 of last year. The initial offering saw ACV put more than 19 million shares on the market, at a price of $25 each, and the company raised $414 million in new capital. Since the IPO, however, ACV stock price has fallen by 63%.

Despite the fall in share price, ACV has been reporting solid year-over-year revenue gains. In the last quarter reported, 3Q21, the company showed $91.8 million at the top line, up 36% yoy. This included a 41% gain in Marketplace and Service revenue, which accounted for $78.3 million of the total.

Arbe Robotics (ARBE)

The company entered the public markets in October of last year, completing a SPAC combination at that time with Industrial Tech Acquisitions. The ARBE stock started trading on the NASDAQ on October 8, and the company realized $118 million in gross proceeds from the transaction. The stock quickly surged to a peak above $14 in November, and has since fallen 48% from that level.

Even though the stock has fallen, Arbe has had some solid wins to report in recent months. BAIC Group, a Chinese auto manufacturer, announced in November that Arbe’s radar systems are expected to be installed on BAIC Group’s new vehicles going forward, and that same month, Weifu, a Chinese tier-1 auto parts supplier launched a customer road-pilot phase of Arbe’s radar systems and chipsets. Weifu expects to have the systems in full production by the end of this year.

ALX Oncology Holdings (ALXO)

The company has had several recent updates on its evorpacept programs, and released the announcements in January. The updates include the expected initiation of a Phase 2/3 clinical trial for the treatment of great gastric/GEJ cancer. This trial will evaluate evorpacept in combination with several other therapeutic agents, including Herceptin (trastuzumab), Cyramza (ramucirumab) and paclitaxel.

Another upcoming catalyst announced in January concerns the Phase 1b trial of an evorpacept-azacitidine combo in the treatment of MDS, myelodysplastic syndromes. The company will be releasing the dose optimization readout of this trial during this year.

The final January update came from the FDA, which granted evorpacept its Orphan Drug Designation in the treatment of gastric cancer and gastroesophageal junction cancer. Orphan Drug Designation comes with financial benefits, including tax credits and user fee exemptions for the company….

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Why Jack Dorsey’s First-Tweet NFT Plummeted 99% In Value In A Year

In December 2020, Jack Dorsey created a non-fungible token (NFT) out of his first-ever Twitter post. He turned a static image of a five-word tweet into a digital file stored on a blockchain, and voila, an NFT was born. A few months later, the image sold for a stunning $2.9 million. Yet in an auction this past week, no one bid more than $280 for it. And even current bids on OpenSea only amount to about $10,000, a 99% drop in value. What happened?

Dorsey’s NFT initially garnered little interest, with some people bidding a few thousand dollars in December 2020—a time when NFTs still had few believers. But in March 2021, the market entered hype mode, with monthly sales on OpenSea jumping to nearly $150 million, up from just $8 million two months prior.

Iranian crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi got swept up in the frenzy, buying Dorsey’s NFT for $2.9 million. He tells Forbes he paid such a hefty sum due to the NFT’s uniqueness and association with such a valuable company as Twitter.

While you could argue that Dorsey’s first-tweet NFT has historical significance, the $2.9 million price tag is nearly impossible to justify. The bubble price Estavi paid epitomizes the greater fool theory at work. “What is the utility of that NFT?

Does Jack Dorsey take you out to dinner in Silicon Valley?” says Mitch Lacsamana, an NFT collector and head of marketing for an NFT trading group. “What is the real value proposition here? I think time has probably told us, and it’s probably nothing.”

On April 5, Estavi put the NFT up for auction for 14,969 ether, or about $50 million. Embarrassingly, no one bid more than $280. Estavi says “no one knows” why the bids came in so low. It seems that few people took it seriously. “Bidders just realized what it was–a publicity stunt. A way to get exposure,” says Blake Moser, an NFT collector who has nearly 400 NFTs. “I do think Sina Estavi accomplished what he was looking for–exposure to his NFT.”

Estavi has indeed gotten attention, but he seems severely out of touch with the rapidly changing NFT market. “The market isn’t ready to jump into literally anything that a celebrity or someone of high stature might release,” Lacsamana says. “I think last year was a really good time for that, but a lot of people have grown weary of cash-grab tactics.”

While the failed auction shows that NFT hype has waned, the market is still very active, with trading volume hovering between $2 to $3 billion a month on OpenSea, up from $150 million a year ago. Prices for some NFT collections like the Bored Ape Yacht Club remain near all-time highs.

Estavi’s NFT saga seems to be a case of an ill-advised $2.9 million purchase, buyer’s remorse and a new bid for attention. Estavi himself has a sketchy history. His startup, Oracle Bridge, says it will allow blockchain platforms to ingest data more easily, but today it seems to be little more than a white paper.

Estavi also claims he was arrested last year in Iran and had to shut down the company for nine months while he was in prison. “They accused me of disrupting the economic system,” he says vaguely. Now he’s trying to start the company up again. Over the past day, bids for the Dorsey tweet NFT have risen to about $10,000. Estavi says he won’t sell for anything less than $50 million.

I lead our fintech coverage at Forbes and also cover crypto. I edit our annual Fintech 50 and 30 Under 30 for fintech, and I’ve written frequently about leadership and corporate

Source: Why Jack Dorsey’s First-Tweet NFT Plummeted 99% In Value In A Year


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NFTs are traded in NFT marketplaces, which have structured platforms like eBay’s. Most NFTs are sold via auctions, although some sell at fixed prices. Some marketplaces specialize in a type of NFTs, e.g., art, games, sports, whereas others sell everything.

If you wish to create a new NFT (called minting) you can do so through any of the marketplaces. The largest marketplace is OpenSea, which in 2021 had about a 90% market share by dollar trading volume across marketplaces. 

There are fees for creating and trading NFTs, from upfront account setup fees and minting fees to sales fees. If you are going to create or trade NFTs, make sure you know a marketplace’s fee structure. To get a sense of fees collected, OpenSea collected about 8% of its sales volume in fees in January.

There may also be royalty fees (usually 10-30% of the sales price) that go to the original creator of an NFT every time a transaction in that NFT takes place. 

Through 2021, the top ten NFT collections had over $15 billion in historical trading value and around a 60% share of the total NFT market. The dominance of a few collections in the market is most likely due to a preference by NFT speculators to trade within collections. It is easier to value an NFT from a collection because there are other NFTs to compare it to.

It follows that, of the money a minority of traders make speculating in NFTs, most of it is from trading within collections. Clearly, informed traders know where the money is, but it is hard to believe that the market can absorb as many collections as there are today: 3,264, up from 193 a year ago. At some point, having so many collections defeats their purpose.

The evidence from the previous study is clear: most NFT speculative traders do not earn a positive return. From an investing perspective the results are unfortunate, but not surprising. Another aspect of trading in NFTs is that fraud within the NFT ecosystem is said to be rampant. The potential for “bad actors” to engage in nefarious selling and trading of NFTs (including counterfeit tokens or assets they don’t actually own) was described as a “contagion” by the CEO of one NFT platform.

The result is a situation where your NFT purchase could end up being worthless. Combining the difficulty of earning a positive return and the inherent risks, NFT trading is not a good proposition, so stay away. They have all the signs of being an investing fad that will likely pass.

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NFT Of The World Wide Web Source Code Sells For $5.4 Million

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet

On Wednesday, 32 years after English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee penned “Information Management: A Proposal,” the genesis of the World Wide Web, Sotheby’s auctioned the Web’s original source code for $5.4 million. It was, of course, in the form of a nonfungible token aka an NFT.

The source code for the Web was sold to an anonymous buyer, according to Sotheby’s. There were a total of 51 bids on the NFT.

“NFTs, be they artworks or a digital artifact like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists, Berners-Lee said in a statement about the auction. “They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the Web.”

Sotheby conducted the auction, titled “This changed everything” from June 23 through June 30 with the bidding starting at $1,000. The British-founded global marketplace for art collectibles has recently added digital collectibles such as NFTs to its offerings. The proceeds from the $5.4 million will go toward initiatives that Tim Berners-Lee supports, including his open source technology Solid.

NFTs are rapidly becoming a way for members of the digital community to create a virtual museum and document historic moments on the internet, whether that was the $4 million sale of the Doge meme NFT or when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold an NFT of his first tweet for $2.9 million or when digital artist Itzel Yard sold an NFT art made from the key of the first Tor Browser, making her the highest-selling female NFT artist.

Gauthier Zuppinger is the co-founder of, a database that tracks the sales of NFTs and crypto collectibles. He compared the source code to CryptoPunks, one of the first non-fungible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Zuppinger says the code’s singularity and its monumental role in the foundation of the digital world contributed to the skyrocketing bidding price for the NFT.

So what exactly does the anonymous buyer receive? It doesn’t receive any unique usage rights because the source code for the web has been public domain since 1991 when CERN released the worldwide web code library.

The NFT itself contains a myriad of technical tid-bits and gemstones in the history of the Web. The four elements include the original time-stamped files containing the code that was written between October,1990, and August, 1991. The 9,555 lines of code written in the Objective-C programming language depicts the application of three inventions made by the physicist-turned-software engineer: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language); HTTP (Hyper Transfer Protocol); and URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers). The buyer will also receive a letter from Berners-Lee, an animated visualization and a digital poster of the code.

“As people seem to appreciate the autographed versions of books, now we have NFT technology, I thought it could be fun to make an autographed copy of the original code of the first web browser,” Berners-Lee’s statement reads.

Apart from being the man behind the Web, Berners-Lee is also a director of the World Wide Web consortium, which looks over the development of the Web. As the co-founder and chief technology officer of Inrupt, he is honing open source technology called Solid to come closer to his original vision for the Web to be a shared information space for all members of the society.

Dr. Merav Ozair, an expert on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology and a fintech faculty member at Rutgers Business School, compared the NFT sale of the World Wide Web source code to the historic moment when the founding fathers of the United States of America signed the Declaration of Independence. The only difference is that the code that created the web also changed the way the world functions today.

“This was also a historic moment when he created a code that initiated everything, and this is not something only for the U.S. it’s for the global community, everywhere,” she says.

Ozair says the auction marks the kick off of Web 3.0, a version of the web where cryptocurrencies thrive.

The source code for the web is already public domain. In fact, Berners-Lee fought with CERN officials for it to be that way, says Marc Webber, the curatorial director of the internet history program at the Computer History Museum.

“It’s a little bit paradoxical. You know, you’ve got an NFT on this completely public domain open thing,” says Webber, who has been researching the history of the web since 1995.

The auction has instigated curiosity about web history, Webber says. But the commodification of computer and technology history could make it difficult for museum curators like him to procure such digital artifacts when NFTs offer the owner lump sum pay-offs and a wide audience.

Webber says that Berners-Lee has had multiple opportunities to cash in on his invention but has always chosen not to so that the web remains in the public domain. “I do know that this is not like a simple ploy to get money,” he says.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I write about tech startups and innovation. I am receiving my master’s degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri. I’ve previously written and worked for Vox Magazine in Columbia, Missouri and Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City.

Source: NFT Of The World Wide Web Source Code Sells For $5.4 Million



A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files. Access to any copy of the original file, however, is not restricted to the buyer of the NFT. While copies of these digital items are available for anyone to obtain, NFTs are tracked on blockchains to provide the owner with a proof of ownership that is separate from copyright.

The NFT market value tripled in 2020, reaching more than $250 million. During the first quarter of 2021, NFT sales exceeded $2 billion. A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, which can be sold and traded. The NFT can be associated with a particular digital or physical asset (a file or a physical object) and a license to use the asset for a specified purpose. NFTs (and the associated license to use, copy or display the underlying asset) can be traded and sold on digital markets.

NFTs function like cryptographic tokens, but unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, are not mutually interchangeable, in other words, not fungible (e.g. one bitcoin is equivalent to any other bitcoin while every NFT may represent a different underlying asset and thus have a different value). NFTs are created when blockchains string records of cryptographic hash, a set of characters identifying a set of data, onto previous records therefore creating a chain of identifiable data blocks.

This cryptographic transaction process ensures the authentication of each digital file by providing a digital signature that is used to track NFT ownership. However, data links that point to details like where the art is stored can die.The speculative market for NFTs has led more investors to trade at greater volumes and rates.The buying surge of NFTs was called an economic bubble by experts, who also compared it to the Dot-com bubble.

By mid-April 2021, demand appeared to have substantially subsided, causing prices to fall significantly; early buyers were reported to have “done supremely well” by Bloomberg Businessweek. An NFT of the source code of the World Wide Web, credited to internet inventor computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, was auctioned in June 2021 by Sotheby’s in London, and was sold for USD$5.4


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