Plug Pulled on ‘Dot-Com Doom’ Auction

The eBay auction of F**, a three month-old satiric Web site that tracks the demise of dot-coms, has been canceled after sparking a media frenzy and attracting bids in excess of $3 million (US$).

The “dead pool of dot-coms” drew 68 bids Monday, its first day up for sale. The auction had been scheduled to close September 20th.

The frenzy included several bids in the $10 million range, which were withdrawn after company officials confirmed that the bids were fraudulent. Bidding for the site started at $1, with a reserve price of $500,000.

Elusive Record

As of late Tuesday, a $3,000,300 bid by “GTChang” appeared to be the legitimate high bid. However, both the bid and the auction had disappeared by Wednesday morning, leading to speculation that the entire affair was a well-orchestrated hoax.

According to eBay spokesperson Kevin Pursglove, the record sale on eBay is $1.265 million, for a Honus Wagner baseball card sold in July.

eBay has listed GTChang as a registered user since October 1998.

Surprised Founder

Philip Kaplan, a 24 year-old Web designer, launched F** in June, inspired by the high-profile demise of British e-commerce site

The Web site publishes rumors and insights into struggling dot-com companies, with information supplied by insiders. Using a point system, the site gives a numeric value to the negative news about a company. Firing a few executives might only garner 20 points, while shutting down operations nets 100 points.

There is also a score sheet for insiders who submit the most valuable tidbits.

Kaplan claimed to be stunned by what appeared to be multi-million dollar offers, according to eBay.

“My guess is the seller was also caught off guard by the number of bids,” Pursglove told the E-Commerce Times, adding that auction officials later advised Kaplan to subscribe to a bid verification feature to weed out the prank offers.

Sold Out of ‘Boredom’

In the sale notice on his Web site, Kaplan said he initiated the auction because he was “bored” Monday morning.

Kaplan had offered to remain after the sale as a consultant to the new ownership, and continue the scathing commentary that has made F** a starting point for investors and analysts.

The site now requests that serious suitors contact the company directly.

Much Applause

In the seller’s description on eBay, F** noted that Forbes Magazine said the site is becoming “the site du jour of Silicon Valley,” and that Rolling Stone named it the “hot Web site.”

Despite its brief existence, F** is a popular water-cooler destination. According to PC Data, the site gets 2,646,000 page views a week from 124,000 unique users.

Ironically, another site that charted the demise of dot-com companies,, shuttered its doors this week after burning through $2.6 million in three months.

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