Asian acquisition

Acquiring Victor Morris is the latest step in DoveBid's plans to expand it's base toward being a global, on-line auctioneer for commercial and industrial estate.
Written by Thomas Chen, Contributor

There is something resembling a gold rush in the way business has embraced the Internet. Not surprising, since the adage of the new economy is to get on-line or get dumped by the wayside. To succeed in the new economy, however, requires a strong business model and the take-off speed of a Concord.

With the acquisition of Victor Morris in Singapore this week, its first acquisition in the region, DoveBid continues the global expansion of its on-line auctioning and appraisal business.

Not bad for a company that was old-economy, brick and mortar just two years ago.

The Victor Morris Group is a Singapore based auctioneer of commercial and industrial real estate whose operation covers Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Founded in 1959, its approximate 100 auctions in 1999 generated asset sales of US$ 50 million.

DoveBid itself is an established old-style auctioneer of used commercial and industrial assets whose history goes as far back as the 1937. The bosses, Ross Dove, chief executive officer, and brother Kirk, were conducting auctions of used equipments on the floor until the bosses decided to take the business on-line and renamed the company DoveBid.

DoveBid follows a simple strategy. To acquire enough auctioneers worldwide to establish a base of connections, clients and buyers so as to achieve what Ross Dove described as a move to "broadbase the global redeployment of business assets to be reused."

This, for Dove, is the way business is heading in the new economy. The Internet, with the auction model of selling and buying will create a "liquid marketplace" spanning the entire world, where assets and equipments are "constantly created and constantly traded globally."

All that is needed, for a brick and mortar company to embrace and thrive with the new technology is a broad enough base to give the company scale.

"If you can put 10 to 20 of the old days company together, together you can move into the digital economy," said Dove.

In fact, the experience of a traditional company is an asset according to Dove.

The company has only begun trading on-line January this year. Using what the company calls a best-of-breed technology, DoveBid combines real-life auction and on-line auction by broadcasting live the auction event over the Internet. Through this Webcast, participants on the net are able to bid, real-time, with no latency, against on-site bidders.

The figures for Webcast events have been promising. In the second quarter of this year, gross proceeds of 13 Webcast events was in excess of $50 million. Compare that to the $15 million generated in the last quarter of 1999 before Webcast technology was deployed.

15% of the sales from the first Webcast events has been from web-based bidders, by third quarter this year, that figure has risen to 27%.

It's been two years since the Dove's decided to take their business on-line. There has been an infusion of $125 million funding from companies such as SoftBank and Yahoo. And the company has acquired 15 auctioning companies across Europe and USA.

Victor Morris is its first acquisition in Asia Pacific. Just this month, at joint Webcast auction between DoveBid and Victor Morris in Osaka Japan, web-based participants were bidding from Tokyo to California.

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