eSnipe serves one primary purpose for power buyers on eBay: it places bids for them during the last few seconds of the auction, a practice known as “sniping” in the online auction world. eSnipe reduces bidding wars by masking interest in auction items until the last possible moment. Because auctions on eBay take three to 10 days to close, emotional overbidding can start soon after the auction opens and last until the auction closes, instead of mere minutes as is the case in traditional offline or “outcry” auctions.
eSnipe protects bidders’ privacy. For example, eSnipe is popular among buyers of collectibles, who treasure the anonymity it brings them. Even on the Web, news travels fast in communities of collectors, who prefer to avoid triggering interest in an item by bidding on it too early.
eSnipe allows users to place bids when it’s convenient for them. Overseas users, for example, do not have to stay up to the middle of the night just to place a bid. Other users like eSnipe because it allows bids to be "canceled" up until five minutes before the auction close, whereas eBay’s terms of agreement treat any bid placement as a contract to buy.
Manual sniping has been widely practiced for years, often by auction enthusiasts who keep multiple browser windows running with one hand and stopwatch in the other. A class of utilities that ran on the users’ machines started the automated sniping trend, but they weren’t reliable because of inaccurate system clocks, unpredictable computer performance, and outright crashes at inopportune times.
eSnipe pioneered the concept of a sniping service run on high-speed dedicated servers with 24-hour support. Building on its existing success, the site’s new ownership has enhanced eSnipe with a more appealing, easier-to-use interface and optimized the automated bid-placing engine, which now manages bids more efficiently and executes them faster. eSnipe is the clear market leader with 50,000 registered users, placing more than 10,000 bids a day that average about $16 million per month.
eSnipe's founder placed the site for sale on eBay in December 2000. The auction was won by an eSnipe user—using eSnipe to place the winning bid.
eSnipe, Inc. is a privately held company.
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