But I thought I would note a rather smaller, but I think still quite interesting transaction. This is the auctioning on eBay of social networking site HRM Today by YourHRGuy, Lance Haun and Punk Rock HRer, Laurie Ruettimann.
A few hours after opening, the auction of 1,200 member site is currently attracting bids of just over $300, and I’m sure this will go a lot higher – as it’s a fairly low valuation even just for a list of current HR practitioner email addresses, never mind the networking functionality on top.
So, why do I think this is interesting?
Community on sale?
Well, firstly, it will be interesting to see what happens to the community after this transaction, and how the community responds to being sold off (perhaps making it feel a little less communal?). Assuming, of course, that the new owner manages it as a going concern.
My interest here is mainly academic. I am a member of HRM Today but haven’t participated it in since its very earliest days, when I was one of the first people to join Laurie on HR Bloggers, which was then subsumed by the HRM Today site (in fact, I was briefly offered the role of co-administrator of HR Bloggers, so I suppose if I’d hung on, I’d be in line for a nice $100 fee right now!).
However, I do host two other, much smaller and currently much less active communities: Human Capital, and Moon Shots. And although I have no interest in selling these (in fact, I’ve just taken over Moon Shots at no cost), I am trying to draw lessons I can use for these from watching other communities develop and change over time.
Consulting time at auction?
The second reason I think this is interesting is that it provides further evidence of the growing use of eBay. I’m not much a eBay user myself, although my wife does dabble from time to time. But I have noticed it’s ongoing extension into new fields. For example, Jet Blue uses it auction off unused flight tickets. And during my last trip to Dubai, I noticed the Monarch hotel on the Sheikh Zayed Road was auctioning off the suite where Paris Hilton had stayed recently.
I’ve even thought about whether I should think about using it to auction off my time when I’ve got a block of spare time.
Most of my work tends to involve ongoing series of meetings spread over several months interspersed with workshops and some travel – so I do often end up with blocks of unutilised time. But then this is my business model too – I keep my day rates quite high because I think this is justified by what I know is the high value I can bring. And I accept (and appreciate!) that this means I’m not going to be running off to clients every day of the week.
So it’s really only when a unutilised block starts to run into several weeks (like it did this May), that using something like eBay to fill up excess slack might be useful enough to justify what would bound to be some tarnishing of my brand and the ability to charge what I normally do for typical project work. And even then, I’d need to maintain a decent reserve price. So I’ve not been tempted yet – but watch this space – it would certainly be interesting to see what might happen if I did.
Until then, keep an eye on HRM Today’s auction too (it’s just gone up from $305 to $315 while I’ve been writing this post)…