Shoppers on eBay trolling for bargains got a special treat last week: For an opening bid of a mere $2,000, they could become the proud owners of Plasticsmolding.com and join the Internet revolution.
A Lisle, Ill., company called Microthought Network posted the eBay item April 11, attempting to sell its plastics industry portal to the highest bidder. The use of eBay and the $2,000 opening asking price are miles from what Microthought wanted for the domain name in the early 1990s: The firm asked several million dollars for the site in 2001, when the Internet boom was just starting to come down off its peak.
Microthought, also called MTI, got into the game with Plastics molding.com. The firm's main business is as an Internet service provider and in developing Web sites, according to its own Web site. The company also owns domain names such as MortgageIlli nois.com and SiteRealtors.com.
MTI could not be reached for comment. Its site receives moderate traffic, the company said.
The site itself primarily links to Plastics News for headlines, ranking information and resin pricing. Several categories, such as thermoform and extrusion, are entirely blank. The injection molding link offers a diagram of a machine and an explanation of its parts. Its exchange area connects to two outside Web sites, Mfgquote.com and Ariba.com, without any explanation.
Those hot links and blank spaces are accompanied by text that heralds Plasticsmolding.com as the ``only site you will need to visit on a regular basis to keep you and your company updated on this huge industry.''
The Web site also offers to ``bring buyers and sellers together.'' An area of the site lists 15 industry contacts, an assortment of molders, toolmakers and equipment suppliers. One contact is Tiffany Sheppard, director of finance and marketing with equipment supplier Dairy Blowmolding Specialists Inc. of Tampa, Fla.
``It's the first I've seen of it,'' Sheppard said in a telephone interview. ``I'm not really familiar with the site. I don't know why I'm listed there.''
In all probability, the Plastics molding site is just a shell attempting to attract buyers, said Angela Charles, president of Akron, Ohio-based Polysort LLC, a Web portal providing information and Web marketing help to plastics companies.
In the late 1990s, there was a brief run on the purchase of URL names, and some people believed they could cash in by acquiring a domain address and then reselling it. But that phase has passed, she said.
``There used to be a big concern that we would run out of URLs, and there was a great gold rush to buy names,'' she said. ``Now, it doesn't matter what the URL is, as long as you can market the name that you have. Listing a domain name for sale and reaping thousands of times what you paid for it doesn't fly.''
It's caveat emptor for someone looking at Plasticsmolding.com. The marketplace-exchange idea that the Web site espouses also is passe, Charles said. ``You're asking people to switch the way that they buy,'' she said. ``There's no incentive to do this.''
The auction was set to expire April 16. By late last week, though, no bids had been placed.