Remy Debrant who managed all the PR for Aucland during the bubble days managed to dig up this great TV coverage on Aucland. If you are dying to hear what I sounded like 11 years ago or just to see what I looked like with a bit more hair, check it out.
Funnily enough for a country where capitalism is at best regarded as a necessary evil, Capital is an iconic show in France. Capital presents a business theme every week and enjoys a cult like following, partly because of their critical tone.
Eleven years ago we were lucky that Capital used Aucland to showcase the concept of online auctions. They filmed two bidders competing for a Palm Pilot. They interviewed the seller. The filmed the meeting of the buyer and the seller. They followed my cousin, who was head of sales, as he tried to convince one of the largest comics collectors to put some comics on the site and gave a step by step explanation of how to do that. They even followed me to the Prime Minister’s office where I went to argue that we should not be regulated like the offline auction business where you needed a government auctioneer license to operate and had to guarantee the authenticity of each item.
Let me now take you back to March 19, 2000, with CRT monitors, dialup modems and all!
Envoye Special is an investigative journalism show that covers a wide variety of topics. As the bubble inflated entrepreneurs started being celebrated, seemingly the first time in France. While Capital decided to present online auctions, Envoye Special was more interested in the human side of the story: what are entrepreneurs like and what do they do? I was lucky to be selected as one of the entrepreneurs they showcased.
In the clip below, Cyrille Devaud, the fantastic reporter who prepared the interview follows me to Spain as we deal with a PR crisis because a user tried to sell his kidney on the site. It’s funny to see us excited about our PR coup. We managed to turn the story into one about our vigilance and prompt action which led to several hundred new users that day. Somehow that seemed huge at the time! For reference, OLX now routinely gets over 8 million visitors on a good day…
Some of the themes still resonate. On the opening scene I explain how the world had changed: where the big used to beat the small, the fast now beat the slow. I also describe stock options which were a novel concept in France. Unfortunately no one made money from stock options in Aucland, but I am proud that many of the employees later became very successful either in my subsequent startups, Zingy and OLX or in other startups.
Tomorrow, Envoye Special is presenting the sequel: “11 years later what happened to him”, filmed by the same reporter, Cyrille Devaud and his loyal cameraman Cedric Foure. If you are in France you can see it on Saturday at 13:55 on France 2.
Culture Pub is another iconic show in France. Every week they showcase the best TV ads from around the world. The Aucland TV ad was amazing and even won a Silver Lion in Cannes. However, it created a huge controversy when it was introduced in France because we killed a grandmother (who kind of looked like the mascot of our main competitor) and we used the tagline: “anything can be bought it’s a matter of price”.
Because of the controversy the ad was pulled within one day of hitting the airwaves by the censorship bureau. In a way it was the best thing that happened to us. Not only did I get the opportunity to go defend freedom of speech on all the talk shows, it led us to cut the ad while the grandmother is falling and to say: “The rest of this ad has been censored. To see the rest of this ad go to www.aucland.fr”. As far as we can tell this was the first time in the world a TV ad did this (Nike later did something similar in the US) and traffic went through the roof.