In just under 14 months, former eBay (NASDAQ:
) PowerSeller Alexander Zacke launched his own real-time auction
, and raised more than
. "I come from a family of art collectors and auctioneers that
goes back to the late 19th century," Zacke, co-founder and CEO of
Auctionata, told Benzinga. "I started my first antiques business
when I was 18, so that was 29 years ago."
In 1997, Zacke began to dabble in online auctions via eBay. He
quickly became the site's largest antiques PowerSeller and held
onto that title for eight consecutive years.
Zacke may have been able to maintain that success if he had
not decided to sell his business in 2006. That's when he started
to "kick around the idea of creating online auctions and bringing
them to a new level," he said.
"Eventually I met my co-founder, Georg Untersalmberger, in
2008," said Zacke. "We started development, the two of us. It
took a couple years for us to develop the auction system we're
Zacke said that while he has committed a seven-figure
investment to Auctionata, he ultimately had to sell a piece of
the business to continue expanding. "I think that's the most
difficult part that you have as an entrepreneur -- you don't want
to sell one percent of your shares," he said.
"You have to understand that without money the business would
not work. You need a lot of money, a lot of trust and a lot of
investors to bring this business to where we want to bring it.
We've got to do a lot more. I'm gonna have to part with a lot
more of my shares. But that's the way the business works."
While the lure of new funds may be tempting to any
entrepreneur, Zacke said that he has been "very picky" about his
"We had a lot more proposals," he said. "That's a luxury [of
having an] interesting business -- you can really select who you
want to work with. I'm very happy with our existing investor
HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, which owns the second-largest
publishing company in Germany, was Auctionata's first
"They came to us when we were basically two people and had
already developed the auction system," said Zacke. "They brought
in the Otto Group and eVenture Capital Partners, which is their
investment arm. Otto is the second-largest retailer in the world
behind Wal-Mart (NYSE:
). They have 120,000 employees, so it's a pretty large
Zacke said that Otto invests in companies that can "change the
market" from a "technological standpoint."
Bright Capital, Kite Ventures and the Raffay Group have also
poured money into the firm. Earlybird Venture Capital is the
newest investor to come aboard.
Auctionata management will not discuss the company's valuation
or its current revenue. "But as a hint, you can imagine I
wouldn't sell most of my stock in this early stage," said Zacke.
"So the value has to be significantly higher than $20
Long-term, Zacke has high hopes for Auctionata -- and dreams
of a reduced workweek.
"The problem with my personality is that I am a rather lazy
person," he joked. "Currently I am working 80 to 90 hours a week,
which doesn't match up with my personality. So obviously I don't
want to do this forever."
Auctionata's goal is to "bring the live auction format on a
global level, which means, from our standpoint, running at least
two, three, four or five auctions a day."
"That would bring the company to a very large size," said
Zacke. "I will stay in the business until we have reached this
target. We plan to achieve this within not more than five years
from now, if not even faster. I have not made any plans that go
beyond achieving this target."
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer
of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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