Fairmarket is open for bidding

WOBURN, Mass. -- FairMarket Inc. Monday formallylaunched an online auction network of electronic commerceInternet sites, including Microsoft, Excite@Home andTicketmaster Online-CitySearch, forming a rival to eBayInc.

WOBURN, Mass. -- FairMarket Inc. Monday formally launched an online auction network of electronic commerce Internet sites, including Microsoft, Excite@Home and Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, forming a rival to eBay Inc., the No. 1 online auction site.

The formation of the FairMarket Auction Network, as the alliance is called, was announced Friday.

As of Monday, FairMarket said, users will be able to access a broad auction network directly through their favorite portal, an Internet media network such as Microsoft MSN, or electronic commerce vendor.

Microsoft invests in FairMarket
As key members of the alliance, FairMarket said it would receive investments from Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) , Excite@Home and Ticketmaster. Financial terms of the investments were not disclosed.

FairMarket said the network can reach more than 46 million visitors, or 73.3 percent of all Internet users, giving it one of the largest distributions of any auction network.

The network is comprised of nearly 100 member sites, including Lycos Inc. (Nasdaq:LCOS) , XOOM.com Inc., ZDNet (Nasdaq:ZDZ) , Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq:DELL) , CompUSA Inc., PBS Online, CBS SportsLine, Boston.com and VH1.com. ZDNet publishes ZDNN.

Auctions interconnected
The FairMarket Auction Network connects all these sites to form a single database of goods and services that is shared across the network.

For example, a customer looking for a Dell computer through an MSN.com auction will also see merchandise from Dell's own auction site , as well as listings from individuals who might be selling goods through another FairMarket Auction Network site.

FairMarket provides the software and networking capabilities that fuel the network.