Wigix wants to kill eBay

Ever gone to eBay in search of something — an iPod, say — and had to comb through an endless array of half-literate, confusing and possibly inaccurate listings?

Or perhaps you’re a seller on eBay, and angry at its policies?

Either way, Wigix, the “Want it, got it Xchange,” hopes you’re annoyed enough to switch. The company, which launches today, offers an online marketplace modeled on stock exchanges, aimed at reducing inefficiences.

When an item is listed on Wigix, the seller won’t need to go through the task of describing it and posting pictures. Instead, they find the item in Wigix’s database, select it, and choose a price, with an eye to the average price.

Buyers, likewise, need only find the item they’re looking for through a single search on Wigix. Once they’re on the page for that item, they can see last prices it sold at, how many buyers and sellers there are, descriptions, reviews and more. If they want to buy it, they put in a bid price; when a seller meets the price, the transaction will be made.

The product pages are to be vetted by “category experts” who will take a tiny percentage of sales for their efforts, while sales fees have a set rate: Zero fees for items under $25, a fee of $1.50 each for the buyer and seller for items up to $100, a 2 percent fee to the seller for $100 – $1,000, and a one percent fee for every dollar over $1,000. Those prices are calculatedly much lower than eBay’s seller fees, and there is no listing fee at all, nor do listings expire.

As you buy items they’ll be automatically listed on your “portfolio”, or you can manually add those you already own. You’ll be able to see your portfolio change in price over time, just like a stock portfolio, and can choose to sell items anytime, or receive notifications of sudden price shifts (in case your dingy old pair of Converse suddenly acquire cult appeal).

The two founders that I met, former Charles Schwab traders James Chong and Bob Lee, have plenty of additional ideas for how to monetize and run the site — more than I can fit here. What’s perhaps more interesting is an anecdote they had to pass on about Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, which has $5.34 million invested in the company.

While I’d assumed a million eBay competitors must have been launched over the years, Lee said their initial pitch to DFJ for funding immediately got the attention of Draper, who said that out of the many thousands of pitches he’d received over the years, only three had been for competitors to eBay. Along with the investment, he joined the board of the company.

When I tried for myself to think of eBay competitors the only that immediately came to mind was Etsy, which has created a successful market for unique, hand-made items, many of which would have otherwise ended up on eBay. In a sense, what Wigix wants to do — become the marketplace for standard, mass-produced items — covers the other half of that equation. And yes, eBay irritates me enough to switch.

Wigix is based in San Francisco, and was founded in March 2007.