Whoever came up with Swoopo.com is a GENIU$. The site bills itself as an “entertainment shopping” experience, here’s how it works:

  1. Swoopo.com creates an auction, starting at 15 cent, and closing in 24 hours.
  2. For a 75 cent fee, you can bid on auction driving the price up 15 cents, and the clock by an additional 20 seconds.

Thats it. 

Typically auctions end at a HUGE discount over the MSRP of the item. If you’re the winner, you win big. Of course, if you lose, you are out all your transaction fees. Swoopo usually wins big though and here’s how to calculate it:

  1. Take final item cost, divide by 15 cents to uncover the number of bids.
  2. Multiply that number by 75 cents to get the amount paid in transaction fees.
  3. Add final sale price to that number to calculate Swoopo revenue for that item.

An example: even if a Nintendo DS lite sells for $22 dollars (as opposed to street price of $130), Swoopo breaks even. I recently saw someone win a DS for $70 (that’s still nearly 50% off) meaning Swoopo takes in $420. Wow.

So is it gambling? Not really… it’s definitely an auction, even though it taps into the same dark impulses that gambling does. Is it entertainment? You betcha. Is it a reasonable way to buy things? HELL NO. Are people likely to play? Duh.

Why didn’t I think of that?