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APN folds auction site Sella, Bradley leaves the building

Herald publisher APN is shutting down Sella - the largest Trade Me rival.

In a parallel development, Shane Bradley - founder of Sella and daily deal site GrabOne - has left APN's orbit effective March 1.

Mr Bradley sold his final 25% stake in IdeaIQ (the holding company for Sella and GrabOne) to APN for $A3.20 million ($NZ4.18 million), the Australian media company’s 2012 interim half-year report revealed. The deal included a $A6.18 million ($NZ8.08 million) earn-out clause for if unspecified performance targets were met. Mr Bradley had earlier sold a 50% stake to APN. The Australasian media company recently reported a half-billion dollar loss.

At the time the deal was revealed by NBR, in August last year, Mr Bradley would not comment on the period, if any, he was contracted to stay on as GrabOne/Sella CEO - but said he was still having fun.

A notice to Sella members says it will cease listing auctions. March 28  was the cut off for final listings.

Sella's motoring and real estate will be moved to the NZ Herald's website "in the very near future," the notice says.

The site claimed 550,000 users*, and promoted itself as a provider of free auction listings (there were also options to promote your auction, ranging from $0.25 to $3).

But like other Trade Me rivals, Sella faced the critical mass problem. The incumbent might charge a success fee, but its larger membership tends to yield more bids and a higher price overall.

As fate would have it, Mr Bradley's departure came within hours of that of Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon - the US-founded global daily deal site on which GrabOne was closely modelled. 

Groupon made a $US81 million loss last quarter.

Last week, Trade Me CEO Jon Macdonald told NBR ONLINE that Groupon (the first and largest site of its type) "is the bellwether for the state of the daily deal market."

Mr Macdonald would not give any financials for Trade Me's Treat Me, but said it had fallen short of "bullish targets" and was not making a major contribution to Trade Me's revenue. The Trade Me boss said he said he still had an open mind on the sector.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he has embarked on a new venture, Shop HQ which "will be a collection of websites selling FMCG [fast moving consumer goods] products across Australasia. First site, launched in March 2013."

Companies Office records show Mr Bradley as the sole director and shareholder of Shop HQ.

Mr Bradley told NBR ONLINE "I'm having a rest; a rest from working 16 hour days. I need to keep the old brain ticking over, but it is my definition of a rest."

* The lack of bouhaha over Sella's closure, beyond a brief flurry of comment on Geekzone, indicates the number of active users was considerably less.

More by Chris Keall

Comments and questions

If they don't consider it can be sold, that is the really telling point. NZH/APN bought sites including Zillion for real cash. Now it is all gone?

I don't know if APN would have wanted to sell Sella, since the buyer would potentially pull away some classified revenue.

But even if it did, I don't know if there would have been any takers - at least at a meaningful price.

Sella had a shot, of sorts, at taking on the monolithic Trade Me in that it had constant exposure to the audience at fellow APN property the Herald.

A new owner would be starting from cold.

Means more opportunity for wheedle. ROFLOL.

Mmn, okay.

Wheedle has no real point of difference from trademe. Have a look at Free and open communication.

Guess those targets and extra earn out $$ have gone south for Shane to be bailing so soon

See NBR article grabone-founder-shane-bradleys-12m-payday

Well played by Shane Bradley though - out in the nick of time with his sell down last year. NZ is too small to sustain so many daily deals sites if any