April 1, 1999 3:20 PM PST

eBay finds the competition foolish

eBay's got a new competitor, and it's not Amazon auctions. It's vBay, a site that looks just like eBay--with a slight twist.

Instead of buyers and sellers, vBay gives users the chance to "sell your junk" or "buy somebody's junk." And not only does this site have an antiques section, it also has a section for "antiques that aren't fakes." (Naturally, there aren't as many items offered in the latter category.)

In contrast to typical items found on eBay, such as Canon printer cartridges and 56K fax modems, vBay offers a Hotwired 1.0 commemorative lunch box, a "drastically reduced" portal kit, and an unclaimed "Cool Shopping Site of the Year" award.

But before you get too excited about vBay, you probably should know one thing: It's a spoof.

April Fools!

It's April 1 and eBay seems to be everybody's favorite fool.

Several spoof pages poked fun at the Web's leading auction site. In addition to vBay, produced by San Francisco Web site builder Vivid Studios, other pages included faux auctions of roommates and even computer publishing company CMP.

eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove was good natured about the ribbing his company was taking, saying that eBay staffers were "getting a good kick" out of the vBay site as the URL made its way through the company's offices. But he warned Vivid Studios that there might be some good-natured retaliation.

"If I were vBay, I wouldn't accept any legal calls on April 1, 2000," Pursglove said.

Vivid Studios creative director Drue Miller, who designed the vBay site, said she chose eBay because it seemed appropriate. Joking that her mother is so addicted to eBay that her family is "considering an intervention," Miller said her spoof pokes as much fun at Vivid, as it does at eBay.

"There is such a strong culture of humor that's surrounded the Internet for years," Miller said, but added that, "hardly anyone does this anymore. People take themselves way too seriously. I think it's important to take these opportunities whenever you can."

This is not the first time Miller has taken on another Web site. Last year, she spoofed CNET, the publisher of News.com.


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