Site to Put Knowledge On the Auction Block

Vancouver online auction developer Demand Ventures Ltd. (VSE: DVD) is looking to something much less tangible than collectibles or computer equipment for its next auction Web site. The company plans to launch, which stands for “Knowledge Exchange Auction,” September 1st, to put a value on various bits of information and business experience.

“The world is racing to the Internet in a quest for free knowledge but is instead finding itself drowning in a sea of information and waves of data,” Demand President David Brett argues. According to Brett, valuable information can be separated from drivel if people are willing to pay for it. For example, he says, a farmer who has figured out a new way to keep pests away from crops could market and profit from that discovery.

Putting Price Tags on Words

How such information can be quantified, validated and traded over the Internet is difficult to envision. Demand claims to have developed an auction and delivery process to allow buyers and sellers to exchange “downloadable knowledge items” priced through a bidding formula will provide.

The site will facilitate multi-lingual content, making the exchange of information an international business, Demand says. Demand has offered few details about how the process will work or how owners of marketable information will maintain control of their property. Presumably, any information that can be traded will first have to be patented or copyrighted, which may raise some issues of validity in international trade. The company also has not estimated how much, if any, demand the market holds for such pay-per-information services.

If the company can make the information sale concept work, it will indeed have a unique auction service. The closest top-ranked auctioneer eBay comes to hawking knowledge is a category for computer-related services, while Auction Universe has a section for business services. And of course, every auction site offers books, many of which are chock-full of someone’s knowledge.

Demand, founded earlier this year, says it hopes to become a “globally recognized Internet company that strategically identifies, creates and maintains profitable Internet properties that are unique in their offerings and demonstrate global impact potential.” The company started this campaign by acquiring a 40 percent interest in Live Auctions Online Inc., of Kelowna, British Columbia. Demand paid $350,000 for its controlling interest in the company, which is Canada’s first auction site.

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