Listia

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Listia Inc.
TypePrivate
FoundedAugust 6, 2009 (2009-08-06)
HeadquartersMountain View, California, U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Gee-Hwan Chuang, James Fong
Key peopleGee-Hwan Chuang (CEO)[1][2]
James Fong (President)
IndustryInternet, Online Marketplace
Employees70+
Websitewww.listia.com
 
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For other uses, see Listia (disambiguation).
Listia Inc.
TypePrivate
FoundedAugust 6, 2009 (2009-08-06)
HeadquartersMountain View, California, U.S.
Area servedWorldwide
Founder(s)Gee-Hwan Chuang, James Fong
Key peopleGee-Hwan Chuang (CEO)[1][2]
James Fong (President)
IndustryInternet, Online Marketplace
Employees70+
Websitewww.listia.com

Listia is a free online marketplace and mobile app for trading goods between individuals without using money. The platform has a system known as Listia credits to facilitate the trades. Users earn credits for giving away items they no longer need and can then use credits to get items that other users have listed. The marketplace uses an auction system where users bid on each other's items until the auction ends and the highest bidder wins. The user who listed the item then arranges for a pickup or ships the item directly to the winner.[3]

In addition to the web site, Listia is also available as a native mobile app on both Android and Apple iOS devices.

Users may leave feedback at the end of transactions and there is a dispute system available, should someone not follow through with stated rules. The Listia support team handle cases and acts as a mediator between the buyer and seller. Sellers have the option to charge for shipping or provide free shipping. Buyers can filter listings based on their preferred shipping method.

History[edit]

Listia was soft launched July 26, 2009[4] and publicly launched on August 6, 2009.[3][5] In 2010, the site passed the 1,000,000 auction mark and was named one of the top 100 websites of 2010 by PC Magazine.[6]

On January 31, 2012 Listia announced that they had over 1 million registered users, with listings in over 3,000 cities. They also launched their official Android app.[7]

On July 18, 2012 Listia launched their Rewards Store to allow users to get brand new electronics and other goods with their Listia credits from big online retailers. The company stated that “by creating a Rewards Store, we hope to incentivize more people to unlock all the idle value sitting in their closets and homes.” [8][9]

Funding[edit]

Listia originally received funding of $15,000 from startup funding firm, Y Combinator.[3][10] In October 2009 Listia received $400,000 in funding from Implistic Capital in an angel round with Adam Pearsall joining the board of directors.[11] In April 2011, Listia raised an additional $1.75M in funding from Andreessen-Horowitz, SV Angel and other investors.[12] They also announced the launch of their iPhone app to bring the marketplace to mobile devices. Led by General Catalyst Listia received $9M in Series A funding in October 2013, Neil Sequeira also joined the board of directors. The funding will be used to help develop their mobile apps and internationally in 2014.[13]

Partnerships[edit]

On Jan. 18, 2013 Listia Partnered with Best Buy to offer various items on Listia to its members. The users may use their virtual currency to purchase new merchandise which is fulfilled by Best Buy using the BBYOpen API.[14] The "Rewards Store" is also a tool to help control inflation on the site as the credits used to purchase merchandise from Listia's rewards store are removed from the economy instead of another user which would have the opportunity to spend them. Previously Listia used Amazon to supply their "Rewards Store" and currently still use it to fulfill Amazon gift cards.

Listia has also partnered with Walmart in 2014 to increase the types of merchandise available in the "Rewards Store" beyond electronics and gift cards.[15]

Charities[edit]

Listia has a monthly charity program[16] that donates up to $4,000 each month to two charities chosen by the company and community. In the past, Listia has raised money for charities such as the ASPCA and the American Red Cross, among others. Listia users can help raise money for the charities by purchasing stars with their credits each month.[17]

Listia Credits[edit]

Listia has created a system called Listia Credits to help facilitate trading on the site. Users earn credits during sign-up and then continue to earn more as they place items in the marketplace. Purchasing credits is also an option, and is Listia's main business model. Users may also gain credits by leaving feedback, completing offers on the site, participating in promotions, and general courtesies.[18]

Closed Loop System

Listia credits are not classified as a true currency, but are a closed-loop stored value[19] system. Credits are usable only within the limited scope of the Listia marketplace and cannot be exchanged or redeemed for money at any time.[20] Credits also cannot be gifted or transmitted between users outside of a legitimate auction in the marketplace.

Inflation and Deflation

The number of credits a particular item will sell for has fluctuated over time due to various causes such as inflation and deflation during the early part of Listia's history. As the marketplace matured and liquidity increased, the fluctuation has decreased but prices still shift up and down based on current supply and demand trends. Looking at the history of one of the most popular items on Listia (Amazon gift cards) the scale of the price fluctuations can be seen.

In October/November 2009 a $5 Amazon gift card would sell for about 300-600 credits.[21][22] By August/September 2010 $5 Amazon gift cards were going for double the price, 1000 credits.[23][24] Looking at Amazon gift cards in May–October 2011 a $5 card sold for 2900 credits.[25] Current auctions for these gift cards top 1500 credits per dollar.[26][27]

Concerns[edit]

Fraud

Listia uses a third party Sift Science which uses large-scale machine learning to automatically discover new fraud patterns. These patterns are found by checking particular page navigation sequences, IP ranges, email address patterns, graph connectivity structures, browser configurations, and various others. An example Sift Science gives is that a user who signs up and waits an hour before making a purchase is 7x more likely to generate a chargeback than a user who makes a purchase immediately after signup.[28]

Terms of Service

Listia has been known to update their terms of service (ToS) without notifying their users of the changes. Comparing the text from the ToS from August 9, 2009[29] to the current text displayed on the site using text-compare.com there are multiple instances of changes, some favorable to the company and others to the consumer. Per Douglas v. U.S. Dist. Court a company must notify their users when the site decides to update their Terms of Service otherwise the new contract cannot be enforced.[30]

Changes of significance benefiting Listia:

-the right to read private messages.

-hold a sellers credits in "pending" until items are delivered.

-only allowing a single account per computer.

-adding an exclusion where they are not liable to refund or help recover shipping expenses to a buyer.

-may remove credits from a members account.

-Listia's mediation is final and binding to all involved parties.

-removed credits having a cash value of 1/100th of one cent and the ability of a user to redeem credits for money with Listia.

-The credits are now a virtual token representing a contractual permission to access features and services on the site. Allowing them to charge fees to acquire or use credit. Listia may revoke the credit license at any time without notice for various reasons.

Changes of significance benefiting the consumer:

-ability to create four instead of two accounts per household.

-no longer have to possess the item you're posting on their site, thus allowing drop shipping options.

-no longer have to be the sole owner of an item, thus allowing digital material to be transferred if you have the right to do so.

Investigations[edit]

Listia agreed to pay $190,546 in back wages and damages to 61 current and former employees after the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor conducted an investigation. The company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime, minimum wage, and record-keeping provisions. Customer service employees were not paid overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a week and in cases minimum wage. Listia also misclassified some employees as exempt from overtime pay and considered others as volunteers. The volunteers were not paid only given credits towards purchases on the company's website.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.generalcatalyst.com/entrepreneurs/gee-chuang
  2. ^ https://www.linkedin.com/in/geechuang
  3. ^ a b c Michael Arrington (2009-08-05). "Listia Is An Awesome Way To Give And Get Free Stuff". 
  4. ^ http://blog.listia.com/2009/07/
  5. ^ http://blog.listia.com/2009/08/06/listia-official-launch/
  6. ^ Heater, Brian (2010-08-16). "The Top 100 Web Sites of 2010". PC Magazine. 
  7. ^ http://pando.com/2012/01/31/listia-reaches-3-million-users-launches-android-app/
  8. ^ http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/18/listia-rewards-store/
  9. ^ http://www.businessinsider.com/listia-rewards-store-2012-7
  10. ^ http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/listia
  11. ^ http://techcrunch.com/2009/10/13/lista-gets-an-angel-round-to-help-people-giveget-free-stuff/
  12. ^ Leena Rao (2011-04-19). "Andreessen Horowitz Leads $1.75M Round In Freebie Marketplace Listia". 
  13. ^ http://techcrunch.com/2013/10/02/lista-a-used-goods-marketplace-raises-9m-to-attack-mobile/
  14. ^ https://developer.bestbuy.com/listia-partners-best-buy-power-their-trading-marketplace
  15. ^ http://www.listia.com/support/topic/walmart
  16. ^ http://www.listia.com/charities
  17. ^ http://blog.listia.com/2011/12/12/turn-your-unwanted-stuff-into-charitable-donations/
  18. ^ Ben Parr (2009-08-19). "Listia Is eBay, But for Free Stuff". 
  19. ^ http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=19.230.010
  20. ^ http://www.listia.com/support/topic/faq_credits
  21. ^ http://www.listia.com/auction/13274-amazon-5-gift-card-amazon-com
  22. ^ http://www.listia.com/auction/16705-5-amazon-gift-card
  23. ^ http://www.listia.com/auction/723410-5-e-gift-card-from-amazon-com-amazon-5
  24. ^ http://www.listia.com/auction/800129-5-gift-card-from-amazon-amazon-com
  25. ^ http://www.listia.com/auction/2691189-1-amazon-gift-card-5-00-for-get-it-now
  26. ^ http://www.listia.com/auction/18570312-50-amazon-com-gift-card
  27. ^ http://www.listia.com/auction/18418095-15-amazon-com-gift-card
  28. ^ http://blog.siftscience.com/announcing-sift-science-fight-fraud-with-large-scale-machine-learning/
  29. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20090715000000*/http://www.listia.com/terms
  30. ^ http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1307125.html
  31. ^ http://www.dol.gov/_sec/newsletter/2014/20140515.htm#.U4AuPPldWPU

External links[edit]