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PayPal Co-Founder Launches eBay Slide Show

The tool lets sellers take pictures of products and create a custom slide show of photos, news, and other digital content to feature on eBay and MySpace pages.
Slide Inc. on Tuesday launched a free Web and desktop application that lets eBay Inc. sellers advertise their wares, and buyers keep track of favorite listings.

The tool lets eBay sellers take pictures of products and create a custom slide show of photos, news and other digital content to feature on eBay, blogs, wikis, Web sites, MySpace pages and more. Slideshow creators can incorporate photos from their collection, as well as feeds from other sites.

In limited trials since January, the service emerged with PayPal cofounder Max Levchin at the wheel. Working closely with Levchin is Slide's vice president of finance and operations Kevin Freedman, who said the photos stored in the listing template automatically update as content changes.

"The listings that expire automatically fall off, while new ones are added," he said.

Freedman says Slide could offer this service through other auction Web sites, along with ways to purchase and add audio capabilities to the slideshow.

The new tool elicited mixed reactions from buyers and sellers.

Tony Lee, a college student in Mclean, Va., who buys products from online auction sites, isn't impressed. Lee insists seeing the product in a slide show on the Web site won't influence his decision to make a purchase.

Buyers and sellers appear to see Slide from different sides. "I can see this service working better for sellers than buyers," said Ankur Pansari, who works in high-tech Silicon Valley by day, and claims to make about "six figures" selling stuff on eBay at night.

Pansari has bought and sold electronics, such as iPods and other MP3 players, on eBay since 1998. "I use Mpire's auction manager tools to do something very similar," he said. "They create the slide show for you."

Slide has competitors such as eBay developers Auctiva, Andale and Mpire, for example. And on Monday, Apple Computer Inc. previewed its new operating systems Leopard that will include Web Clips that let anyone take a part of a Web page and create a visual panel that automatically updates as information changes.

More often than not, Ed Harrison sells the same items as others on eBay, so he's always looking for a gimmick to make his stand out.

"I'm in favor of anything that can give my entries more pizzazz," said Harrison, a 35-year-old eBay seller from Somerville, Mass., who uploads stock photos to the site to give a visual of the books and the CDs he sells. "Right now, I try to be clever with descriptions or titles, but often that doesn't really do the trick."

Any type of marketing tool to attract buyers is good, said Steve Grossberg, who built Budget Video Games Inc. into one of eBay's most active online merchants by selling games online for about $15 each.

Grossberg has already begun to test Slide as a marketing tool to showcase the variety of video games offered. When a buyer clicks on the photo slide gallery it doesn't take them away from the auction page, for example. Instead, clicking on the picture opens a new browser. "That's important to me as a seller," he said. "You don't want to take the buyer off that page."

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing