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The Smartest Way to Bid

By Jennifer Heckler, Contributing Reporter
October 2000

Have you ever wondered if you really got the best deal on a 'Name Your Price' site? Forget 'best' deal - have you ever wondered if you got any deal at all? MyRaptor takes the guesswork out of bidding for goods and services on these and similar sites, including Priceline, Expedia's Price Matcher, Hotwire, and Savvio.

Founded late last year in San Francisco, MyRaptor helps consumers and businesses make informed decisions when buying and bidding for products and services across a variety of dynamic price markets. The company's proprietary technology and patent-pending business model applies to nearly any online situation where buyers walk away wondering whether or not they got the best possible deal, including travel, automobiles, and business procurement. "Our learning agent technology pools the details of individual buyers' previous deals, and uses neural networks and other techniques to reverse engineer the minimum price and other data that sellers refuse to disclose," explained Akira Hirai, President and CEO. "With MyRaptor, buyers can hunt in packs and master the dynamic price jungle."

Consider, for instance, the online travel market. Currently, 'Name Your Price' sites allow consumers to 'guess' a price for travel services. Restrictions on these sites make it impossible for buyers to figure out how low they can really bid, so most buyers will either bid too low and get rejected, or too high and overpay. These sites also give buyers little or no control over flight times, connections, airlines, or other attributes - yet once a bid is accepted, there are no refunds or exchanges. Moreover, the process of placing bids is very time consuming, as buyers need to conduct significant research in order to make a reasonable bid. MyRaptor solves these problems by recommending bid amounts, specifying each bid's likelihood of success, anticipating what the buyer is likely to get if their bid is accepted, and automating the research and bidding process.

"Our technology acts as the buyer's agent, buying, negotiating, or bidding on their behalf in a way that maximizes the chances of obtaining a great deal," Hirai described. "People who have avoided bidding sites because of all of the uncertainties can now take advantage of the great deals that are available to those armed with the right information."

The company's revenue model for the travel market is based on multiple sources. First, bidders can get rebates and save on travel costs by signing up for affiliates' products and services, such as credit cards or long distance services. MyRaptor will earn fees for each promotion that is accepted. Second, the company will soon offer a unique 'Power Bidding' service that automates the bidding process for a small fee. Buyers simply indicate areas of flexibility and MyRaptor will construct and execute an optimized bidding strategy as the buyers' agent, placing sequential bids through multiple sites. Third, MyRaptor will charge ASP hosting and setup fees to websites and corporate intranets who wish to provide private label or co-branded bid optimization services. MyRaptor also has several ancillary revenue sources, including commissions and advertising.

MyRaptor is in beta testing and plans a soft launch of their travel-related service by early-November. The online travel market is just the starting point; they plan to expand quickly into other applicable markets. "As we license our technology and business model to partners in new verticals, we will earn ongoing royalties," said Hirai.

With millions of consumers already making uninformed purchases across the online travel market, there is a serious need for buyers to have an unbiased purchasing platform from which to compare the options from various suppliers, including 'Name Your Price' sites. MyRaptor will fulfill an untapped segment in the growing online dynamic price markets. "Our surveys and beta users are unanimous: people want more control and information when bidding on these sites," Hirai noted. "With our unbiased advice, we will empower buyers and save them time, money, and frustration."

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