Labeled as auctions in Domain Industry News started by JudgeMind, Nov 24, 2014.
I hate dancing but love fishing, especially when it's for the truth.
The problem is, some people assume they know the truth already. They stand high on their pedestal and look down on a platform they've had no success with. Well, I can tell you, from my experience..."your" success on Flippa is greatly dependent on "your" ability to sell.
A lot of people blame the platform...talk to some of the most successful sellers on Flippa, they all have one thing in common. They know how to sell. Talk to some of the least successful people on Flippa...they all have one thing in common...they blame the platform.
Can't rely on parking sites and brokers to get the job done. Selling domains is the owners full responsibility, just like running a clean business is the owners responsibility.
Domaining is shady across the board and it's unfortunate. The almighty dollar makes individuals and companies make poor choices.
I agree to an extent. There are some badass brokers out there that get the job done. You are right though, if you want something done right, you have to put the work in yourself!
There is a lot of shady things in the business, much like there is with all businesses. The best part about domaining is that you can choose to be the good guy. Money is money, regardless if you are doing business right you will make it. Some people just let the greed of more get the best of them and that's when things get ugly.
Things like fake bidders, trolls, haters...they are everywhere on every site in every niche of the world. Just a part of any business. They will always be there. So will the positive, honest and badass sellers.
Just the way it is
The discussion, for the most part, does not surround the success of anything but rather the merits of the platform. If you know people that work for companies that are in the area of auctions, it's frustrating to see how much effort exists in being legally compliant, fully audited, bonded and with proper mechanics in place when others come in with a lower quality site that has bidding issues. It's annoying - not to mention puts the buyers at an enormous risk that they should not have. We keep making excuses for this by blaming scammers - that doesn't cut it in the real world. As a business your priority is to protect your clients.. not say "well there are some bad apples everywhere"...that's a BS stock answer.
The solution to this is not to label people as trolls but to actually show how you've put measures in place - are you independently audited as a platform? are you, the broker acting as auctioneer, in any way bonded or financially covered? It's the same with escrow services - half of them don't have enough insurance or capital to cover any loss.
A proper and reputable business could provide these types of things easily.
And what? Everyone just assumes that you are all the good guys?
No offence intended, but what does anyone know about KCGroup? I don't like the idea of brokers that are also investors as that creates a clear conflict of interest right off the bat.
Yep got Whisky.click and Whiskey.click for $10 each todays hand regged !
Gotta be worth a punt !
Yes, One Irish Punt which is worth.....
Some people like the "dancing" metaphor to side-step having to answer hard questions. I get that feeling from Flippa's mouthpiece here.
To me it's like that old "nothing to see here, move on, just keep walking" mouthpiece standing in front of a horrendous wreck.
Wish i would of had this domain in the portfolio ready to sell. lol
Lots of arguing in this thread.
Everyone relax and have a drink
Kevin, my own conclusion about Flippa has been this:
Flippa gives privileged marketing to a small group of sellers over and over again. This helps create the impression that "If those guys can succeed, then so can I".
In reality, Flippa's top-visibility spots are often taken up by a privileged group of sellers and by shill bidders who climb the "most active" ladder through fraudulent activities of their own (for which Flippa is not directly responsible).
Ordinary Flippa customers must pay a variety of extra fees to get their auctions seen. Essentially, these fees are Flippa's real business model. I'm guessing they account for much more revenue than percentage-based commissions from auctions that actually succeed.
6 or 12 months ago, the playing field on Flippa used to be much more level, much more fair. But in the past months, the market place has become increasingly lopsided.
In fact, the selling situation at Flippa has become so absurdly skewed that a few special Flippa sellers will contact the rest of us and tell us that we need to let them list our domains because of all the special perks they get and all the "watchers" they've accumulated.
That isn't brokerage. It's just a few people with head-of-the-line privileges shaking down the rest of Flippa customers who must stand in line behind them. Frankly, it's ridiculous.
As time goes by, the situation on Flippa will become less and less fair, less and less competitive. Why? Because people with premium domains will be convinced to give their domains to some special Flippa seller so that he can list it for them -- pretty much as they would have done themselves -- and skim off an additional 15%.
Why do those guys get that extra 15%? Not because of any special outreach they're doing. No, their "brokerage" pitch to sellers is based on the special perks they get (and the sellers can't get) from Flippa management and on the watchers they've accumulated as a result of those special perks. The deck is stacked against normal sellers.
If the owners of good domains would list their stuff themselves on Flippa, then they'd accumulate a list of "watchers" themselves. But, as things are, they simply cannot get seen! Not unless they pay for a long list of add-ons to show up alongside the special privileged sellers. Not unless they ask their friends to place lots of fake bids below the reserve.
So what happens? Premium domain owners get sucked in to the idea of letting a privileged class of Flippa sellers act as a layer between themselves and any possible success on the platform. Those sellers scrape off an extra 15% just for creating listings, which is exorbitant and unearned, in my opinion. And worst of all for Flippa customers, all the "watchers" that would have gone to them go instead to the "broker" who stands first in line. So over time, their own sales and their own success contributes to making the playing field at Flippa more unequal!
It's a very bad deal for Flippa customers. Simply atrocious, in my opinion.
Am I bitter? No, I don't think so. 6 to 12 months ago, I had some decent sales at Flippa. But since then the selling environment has gone downhill. Really downhill.
Not worth $9 to list anything. It's too much of an uphill battle to get seen -- and an increasingly unnatural uphill battle, tilted more and more steeply due to Flippa management desicions.
Kevin, I like you personally. And I've even received some free promotional upgrades in the past, which I appreciate. Auctions and sales are always hit or miss. But Flippa is stacking the deck AGAINST regular customers.
I stopped listing at Flippa not because stuff wasn't selling (from time to time it still sells if you're lucky enough to be seen through the shill bids and special "brokers" with front-of-the-line privileges). I stopped selling because I felt like I was jogging and Flippa kept tilting the slope up. At this point, selling at Flippa for most of us is like running up a 70-degree incline. Unless we agree to give 15% to special sellers with access to attention.
I certainly wouldn't want to pay extra just to even things up on a basically unequal platform. And as for surrendering to a special class of Flippa brokers in order to get a normal degree of visibility, count me out!
First of all, please edit this thread's title as it is misleading and not fair to NP users.
@ImageAuthors you are right but you just described what's bad in the world if we can do some analogies. Some intermediate guys with special skills in selling something is the definition of brokers. Best example I can have in my head right now is a real estate broker as everybody can try to sell a house but you have higher chances to find a buyer through them. Why? Because of all those special skills.
I am a new seller on Flippa but from what I read, everyone can 'rent' a main page space or upgrade their listings from $9 to $300+. And if a broker tries to sell something I believe that the broker must pay for those upgrades, right? Ow, and the fake bids thing is truly awful!
@jdab is that similar to Drambuie?
But that's not what is happening. I'm not talking about guys with "special skills". I'm talking abut guys with permanent head-of-the-line privileges (thanks to Flippa giving them free promotions and thanks to the "watchers" they've acquired through this unfair marketing advantage).
What "special skills"? Is it a special skill to get extra marketing exposure, free upgrades, and free listings from Flippa management? Favoritism isn't a "special skill". It's simply anti-competitive. And decidedly unfair for a market place that charges others extra money for every single shred of visibility -- just to claw their way up to the special sellers.
These guys act as an extra layer on top of normal listings. The more they are given extra visibility by Flippa or by sellers who give them their own domains to sell, the more the rest of us have to pay extra to compete against them for visibility.
Flippa likes these special sellers because they seem like ordinary folks to most people. But in reality they're just Flippa. They introduce an extra layer between your invisible listing and the listings that can actually be seen. Not through any "special skills" they have but on account of Flippa tilting the market place in their favor more and more.
What's the result of this uneven playing field?
(1) Regular Flippa customers pay for extra listing upgrades in order to overcome the competitive DISADVANTAGE Flippa has placed on them.
(2) Regular Flippa custmers give up on selling their own stuff. Instead, they let Flippa "brokers" charge them 15% to create listings for them.
(3) Regular Flippa customers enlist the help of their friends to place fake shill bids below a reserve amount. That way they can climb the ladder up to the first page of "most active" auctions.
Shill bidding has always been Flippa's major problem and it always will be because people are trying to get around all the upgrade fees. But now that Flippa has created a special class of "brokers" that you need to list your domains through in order to be seen, the cost of listing at Flippa has gone up tremendously; and the likelihood of selling through a basic listing has dropped equally as much. So shill bidding is almost like a democratic protest!
Anybody who has been trying to sell domains on Flippa with a basic listing and no shill bids from buddies will realize that it went from hit and miss 6 months ago to virtually impossible today.
@ImageAuthors If the things you say are true, let's see what @FlippaDomains has to say about this. I was being ironic regarding the 'special skills'.
I just saw this and am heading out of town for the weekend, but you're guaranteed a response in the coming days...
Bingo! Give this member a prize please.
All of you waiting for my response, thanks for your patience. I've been tending to some pressing matters, but plan on weighing in on all of this today.
Everyone is waiting with bated breath or maybe moved on to more interesting things. I'm not sure. I can't speak for everyone but I'm pretty sure that I had forgotten this thread existed but I see it's up to a whopping not reserve making $85,000 which has been made by a bidder 1 who has previously spent the vast fortune of $201 on prior auctions. Hopefully bidder 2 will outdo his previous activity to outbid him...
Maybe bidder 9 will come back...
Strange way to list bidders... they are listed Bidder n where n is position? Not by order they started bidding? Does this mean the bidder history gets redone each time a different bidder makes the highest bid?
No, it's by order they bid in.
I agree it is strange, I have always hated it. I think NameJet does pretty well with bidders having bidding id's, for an industry that cries out for transparency from Google, parking providers and everyone else on the planet, it would be nice to see it practice what it preaches.
Thanks, Raymond. I'm going to find out what the reasoning behind the current MO is, and weigh what a change would look like. I'm open to it.
I appreciate your sentiments towards me, and extend the same to you, but we'll probably agree to disagree on just about all else. Nevertheless, this should shed some light on where Flippa's Domains business and I are coming from.
"Flippa gives privileged marketing to a small group of sellers over and over again. This helps create the impression that 'If those guys can succeed, then so can I'. "
Privileged -- how, exactly? I extend upgrade subsidies, and sometimes free upgrades, to just about anyone willing to work with us to sell a great domain. I've extended the same to you, too, with varying results.
Absolutely anyone can succeed on our platform. We operate an active marketplace (though we have since initiated the more passive "set it and forget it" offering with the Domain Portfolio option), and success within it requires a number of ingredients that I will outline below.
"In reality, Flippa's top-visibility spots are often taken up by a privileged group of sellers and by shill bidders who climb the 'most active' ladder through fraudulent activities of their own (for which Flippa is not directly responsible)."
Since I joined Flippa this past January, I've noticed an mammoth drop in fraudulent activity -- thanks in full to our insanely diligent and detective-driven Customer Success and Marketplace Integrity teams. We still have some bridges to cross to make things even more secure, and in the case of domain sellers, protecting them against deadbeat or dodgy buyers.
Your remarks about shill bidding are a) warranted from a generic standpoint; this occurs in all online auction settings (which does not make it OK); but b) are also reckless, unless you know specifically who or what is behind these incidents and can report these people directly to our team.
Speculation is one thing, but we take this so seriously that we have since suspended and severed ties with some of our most successful (and for us, profitable) sellers -- and I'll stand by my guarantee to continue to do so, provided any inappropriate activity is taking place. So, this goes for anyone reading this: if you see something dodgy or strange, reach out and let us know. We'll stop it, provided our investigation proves more than just your hunch.
"Ordinary Flippa customers must pay a variety of extra fees to get their auctions seen. Essentially, these fees are Flippa's real business model. I'm guessing they account for much more revenue than percentage-based commissions from auctions that actually succeed."
We are striving to create new modes and methods of visibility for our sellers' inventory. With the addition of the Portfolio listing feature, whereby you can list your entire portfolio of inventory for free (and receive offers from buyers on an offer/counter-offer / Buy it Now basis, and choose to push to auction at any time), we do still charge for auction listings and for improved listing visibility. It is true that we charge a premium for exposure, but we are looking at making adjustments in the near future.
We're going to be rolling out tools to better curate and showcase our best inventory, through new features such as an expanded rollout of Flippa Exclusives and Editors' Choice for domains.
"6 or 12 months ago, the playing field on Flippa used to be much more level, much more fair. But in the past months, the market place has become increasingly lopsided."
We're exactly the same, aside from now having 130,000+ domains, (versus less than 1,000 domains last year at this time). Furthermore, we've added a remarkable Customer Success arm in the States, and a growing Domains-centric team, who are actively helping sellers list and sell their domains via strategies and tactics that are right for them.
"In fact, the selling situation at Flippa has become so absurdly skewed that a few special Flippa sellers will contact the rest of us and tell us that we need to let them list our domains because of all the special perks they get and all the 'watchers' they've accumulated."
Disclosure or proof of this would be helpful, please.
"That isn't brokerage. It's just a few people with head-of-the-line privileges shaking down the rest of Flippa customers who must stand in line behind them. Frankly, it's ridiculous."
I'm unaware of this happening, as it is not something I have approved. Are you aware of others who are partaking in this?
"As time goes by, the situation on Flippa will become less and less fair, less and less competitive. Why? Because people with premium domains will be convinced to give their domains to some special Flippa seller so that he can list it for them -- pretty much as they would have done themselves -- and skim off an additional 15%.
Why do those guys get that extra 15%? Not because of any special outreach they're doing. No, their 'brokerage' pitch to sellers is based on the special perks they get (and the sellers can't get) from Flippa management and on the watchers they've accumulated as a result of those special perks. The deck is stacked against normal sellers."
In accordance with the above, I'm not sanctioning that sellers reach out and attempt to sell on behalf of less successful / general sellers.
I am, however, quite in favor of promoting our most successful sellers to be auxiliary brokers, and by referring new sellers to these seller-brokers.
This is a two-fold tactic from my end; first, I am one guy (so far, and this will change next year) who is simply unable to reach out or work with every single person that contacts us to sell a domain. So I need help (we'll be hiring sales leaders soon -- if anyone reading this is interested, reach out...)
But more importantly:
I was working with Ali and realized he was one of the few sellers who has sold 100% of all his listings. That's not hyperbole; he's managed to sell each and every one he's listed to date.
I was also working with someone who had great inventory, but had absolutely no time or ability to tend to his own account. I married this less successful seller (who's a major investor and business owner in his main time, hence the inability to give his Flippa sales the time needed), referred ONE domain to Ali by way of introduction, and Ali turned a domain that hadn't sold in 3+ tries into a sale on his first try.
Bottom line: if everyone is happy and more people can sell more domains, then your grievances only stand on one ground -- which is the front-of-line privileges for these seller-brokers...
...which, I should state plainly, do not exist.
I work out deals for bulk-listings, bulk-upgrades, bulk-promotion -- but aside from Flippa Exclusives (the investment-grade .COMs, usually -- of which I have extended to you, Joseph, more than a few times), everyone is subject to the same standard of selling in our marketplace.
"If the owners of good domains would list their stuff themselves on Flippa, then they'd accumulate a list of 'watchers' themselves. But, as things are, they simply cannot get seen! Not unless they pay for a long list of add-ons to show up alongside the special privileged sellers. Not unless they ask their friends to place lots of fake bids below the reserve."
I'm glad you brought this up. There were a few sellers that were asking friends to bid close to the reserve for them, and they are no longer selling with us. You may have noticed their absence. It was an intentional crackdown. If there are others you are aware of, feel free to bring them to my attention personally so we can investigate thoroughly.
*My main point that needs to be made here is in regards to your first sentence: that is the crux of the problem in listing high-end domains. I've worked with dozens of sellers -- most want nothing to do with Flippa, with bettering their standing among buyers, with increasing their transaction history , getting great feedback -- essentially participating in the marketplace at all.
They just want to sell the damn domain and don't care where or how it happens.
A broker is a godsend to them and is something that is worth an extra 5% for many if not all involved.
But just to address your second sentence real quick, I've upgraded, personally -- just as an experiment -- some of these high-end owners' auctions, and it made no difference whatsoever. Exposure didn't help in those instances because there was no outreach, and no established account, and not enough watchers.
Were a high-end domain owner interested in really working to create a presence within our marketplace, then success may have been achievable over the long run. What's more important to note here is that so many of these sellers had no interest in fostering a long-term presence or commitment -- and that's fine, because we all have lives, family, careers, etc.
It requires quite a bit of effort to sell actively on Flippa, and I do not think that is a bad thing. I also think there is a market for those sellers who are unable or unwilling to put in that effort (I just signed up a major portfolio owner this week, for instance) and who need our -- Flippa's -- help.
Extrapolating this down to the lower-volume, or lower-tiered inventory sellers, I believe success is way more attainable by just being realistic, which I'll make mention of below.
I cite domain broker John Daly (NameConnect) as a prime example of someone who has bucked this sentiment -- he was wary of continuing onwards after some unsuccessful early attempts. He's now sold almost $275,000 worth of inventory over the last few months.
As for Ali, he does this full time, and uses Flippa exclusively as his platform and marketplace of choice. He works his ass off to make each sale happen, and his followers are testament to this. I'm sure he'll weigh in with his own words...
"So what happens? Premium domain owners get sucked in to the idea of letting a privileged class of Flippa sellers act as a layer between themselves and any possible success on the platform. Those sellers scrape off an extra 15% just for creating listings, which is exorbitant and unearned, in my opinion. And worst of all for Flippa customers, all the 'watchers' that would have gone to them go instead to the 'broker' who stands first in line. So over time, their own sales and their own success contributes to making the playing field at Flippa more unequal!"
If I knew a way to make each and every new seller become as successful as John and Ali and others who are making a full-time living off of domain sales, I'd do whatever I could. But after almost one solid year of tending very personally to hundreds of sellers, the secret ingredients are a combination of determination, budget to market, time spent on building their Flippa profile and stature, and pricing.
"I stopped listing at Flippa not because stuff wasn't selling (from time to time it still sells if you're lucky enough to be seen through the shill bids and special "brokers" with front-of-the-line privileges). I stopped selling because I felt like I was jogging and Flippa kept tilting the slope up. At this point, selling at Flippa for most of us is like running up a 70-degree incline. Unless we agree to give 15% to special sellers with access to attention. I certainly wouldn't want to pay extra just to even things up on a basically unequal platform. And as for surrendering to a special class of Flippa brokers in order to get a normal degree of visibility, count me out!"
While I regret that you feel this way, our brokerage efforts are only going to be expanding as we strive to become a more high-end marketplace.
If you have a good domain, and if it is priced reasonably, we will work with you. If you pay for an upgrade, it will be seen; if it doesn't get the action you're wishing for, then we will work with you until you are satisfied. Should go without saying, a seller should consider whether an asset is priced realistically and whether he or she is doing all that can be done to promote a sale.
Joe, I know you're a huge buyer and seller, and do this full time. I also know you've had mixed success on our platform. I've worked with you many times, extended subsidized upgrades for domains I have believed in, and I also know two things that inhibited your success.
You stopped building your reputation and followers after a few false starts or less-than-stellar experiences, and your reserve pricing is often unrealistic for our marketplace. Sometimes it hits, and other times it doesn't -- but the catch-22 with any (and successful) Flippa Domain seller is that he or she can build a following without massive upgrades, and can do so based solely on the inventory they can move.
This is done by outreach, by bringing outside buyers ONTO the platform to participate, and by pricing realistically for a quicker sale (< 30 days), and not for end-users that may or may not visit the auction by happenstance.
If you or anyone else thinks we should be doing things differently, I'm all ears and have been enacting changes based on customer feedback -- and will continue to do so. We take it very seriously and I for one appreciate being able to have this dialogue...
-- Kevin Fink, Director of Domains @FlippaDomains
Clearly not. Bidder 1 is leading. Bidder 9 was the first bid. It's weird.
I think bidder n is not exactly great for transparency - some places do that and switch out to the userids on completion. Obviously, some people don't like people to track what they are bidding on either so I can understand it both ways. Given that you are a platform and not an auctioneer you try to remove any legal liability so it doesn't matter... but it's not the most intuitive way of assigning ids. Usually bidder 1 would be the first bid and all his subsequent bids would be under that alias.
Interesting; I haven't actually seen it behave that way before. I'll be back with further thoughts. But thanks for bringing this up, it's important.
While we hold transparency dear, we do get requests to anonymize as much as possible on the platform.
I appreciate your taking the time to respond. However, I don't appreciate your attempt to divert attention away from my criticisms of Flippa as a venue and toward a discussion of my own track record with Flippa sales. I wasn't expressing any personal grievance at the decline in sell-through rate at Flippa. No, I was attempting to diagnose systemic problems with the Flippa platform without really referencing my own selling activities there. So when you do bring it up, that's just an irrelevant distraction. I won't even bother to dispute what you say about my Flippa sales because, honestly, who cares about me?
Kevin, you always tell me and the rest of domainers that we're obliged to document Flippa shill bidding and deliver you a report ... or else keep our mouths shut! Well, in reality, none of us have the time or interest to keep detailed records about fraud at Flippa. But most of us have seen it. Some of us can point to examples, but we have nothing to gain from pointing out something Flippa will only call a "bad apple" anyway.
Out of all of us, you're the person drawing a Flippa salary; so, in all fairness, documenting and publicly exposing shill bidding falls on your shoulders. It's not up to us to gather the evidence for Flippa for free.
Frankly, it's outright ridiculous that you ask us to police Flippa shill bidding when we cannot even identify the bidders! Flippa masks their identity, making it impossible for us to prove fraud in the majority of cases where fraud is most likely occurring.
Just because Flippa chooses to mask bidder identities doesn't mean that Flilppa can prevent the rest of us from inferring fraud EVEN when there's no specific hard evidence to draw upon. Flippa conceals that evidence behind bidder numbers. We're not fools, Kevin. Flippa is half invisible, but we trip over that invisible half every day.
When a Flippa "sale" is reported in some daily blog only to fall through without a payment or a transfer, who shows up to point out the fraud. Not Flippa, obviously. The seller and buyer won't because they are (presumably) in cahoots. Flippa could. But why incur the bad publicity? Show me where Flippa has visited the domain blogs with reported "sales" and been the first to announce them as fakes. Yet you do admit that Flippa has cracked down on fakes. Behind the scenes. That leaves the rest of us to speculate about how much fraud there was and how much fraud remains.
If Flippa wants its stance on shill bidding to be taken more seriously, then let Flippa expose the identity of bidders. Then the rest of us can keep tabs (to a limited and imperfect degree) on the shill bidding networks that most of us assume are contributing so many under-reserve bids on Flippa. There is no good faith in Flippa's claim that it wants domainers to report fraud when it hides nearly all potential evidence.
I am very confident that I can identify a large amount of shill bidding at Flippa if Flippa will give me access to data. Will you? Retroactively?
But let's set shill bidding aside. Kevin, you're a smart guy. Can you really not see how the playing field for sellers has become tilted in favor of a minority of users?
Flippa even changed its layout recently so that listings that haven't paid extra take up less visual space on the screen. That creates a very strong incentive to compensate. And the only logical means to do so are these 3:
(1) paying extra
(2) shill bidding
(3) giving up on listing your own stuff and handing it over to one of Flippa's special sellers
Kevin, you can't possibly tell me that you distribute free listing upgrades and newsletter placements equally across all Flippa customers. I myself have benefitted from some extra perks, and I'm not complaining. My understanding was that I was getting some bonuses on account of my own past sales at Flippa. It's a rewards system, and that's fine.
But here's the crucial thing, Kevin, that you seem to have fundamentally missed.
Flippa is moving away from a place for new individual sellers to sign up, list an item, and succeed in selling it... and toward a brokerage platform where older established Flippa users enjoy so much extra exposure through watchers and Flippa handouts that newer individual sellers would be FOOLISH to even try listing their own property for sale on their own.
Honestly why would they?
They'd have to pay for each upgrade, whereas a Flippa "broker" probably doesn't.
And they'd have no (or relatively few) "watchers" to begin with, whereas a Flippa "broker" will have accumulated all of the watchers due to all of the better domains from all of the real domain owners that have given up on selling on Flippa and given their property to a Flippa subcontractor.
No new seller who only sells what he himself owns can compete with a broker who has a head start in "watchers" and special access to Flippa perks.
Kevin, right now, every Flippa customer OUGHT to stop listing his own domains. You yourself have implied as much. And your Flippa brokers have stated as much explicitly. I have it in writing, but why blame them for making a buck? It's a Flippa problem that we can't make a buck without them -- or, at least, less easily than we could last year.
Kevin, this is where your logic leads. Ali NEVER fails to sell domains. Where in the real domain economy does a person have a 100% sell-through rate? I'm not insinuating anything. I'm simply pointing out that every rational domainer and every single Flippa customer OUGHT to stop listing his own stuff and give his entire inventory to KCGroup. Why would anybody even TRY to compete with that?
So it boils down to this:
1. Flippa rewards successful sellers with "watchers" and with free upgrades.
2. Brokers get "watchers" due to other people's domains.
3. Unsuccessful sellers can't get steady free upgrades.
4. New sellers can't get "watchers".
5. People who list their own stuff (as opposed to other people's stuff) can't accumulate "watchers" as fast, since they'd actually have to BUY the premium domains.
6. Unsuccessful sellers must buy upgrades to compensate for lack of "watchers" and freebies.
Those are the underlying dynamics. It's pretty much inevitable, under those circumstances, that Flippa will gradually become a brokerage platform and cease to be a venue for new arrivals or individual sellers of privately owned assets.
It's also inevitable that there will be more shill bidding on Flippa than on other platforms due to the way auctions are ranked (i.e. by most active) and due to the steep fees sellers face, which incentivize shortcuts.
You see, Kevin, I'm rational too. I know that I couldn't sell the same domains I sold on Flippa in the past -- not today. When one of Flippa's special sellers tells me that I should give him 15% to 25% so that he can list the same domains I'd just listed at Flippa ... in the same price range I listed them at ... just because he talks to Kevin Fink daily and has X many watchers ... then I know Flippa is dead for me as an individual seller.
Rationally, it only makes sense to sell my stuff through one of Flippa's brokers. Some of them bring audiences of their own -- for instance, NameConnect. And others just bring front-of-the-line privileges. Either way, I know Flippa will give them more exposure than I can get. And that has nothing to do with marketing outside Flippa. It's about the way Flippa intrinsically works -- meaning free upgrades and accumulated "watcher" notifications.
Goodbye to the Flippa where anybody with something good to sell has a fair shake at selling it! That guy might still sell it. But he'll have a much easier time selling it once he recognizes that Flippa gives advantages to "brokers" and disadvantages to individual sellers.
Separate names with a comma.