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FOBO – The Auction App that Gadget Editors Are Using

Product Review

FOBO – The Auction App that Gadget Editors Are Using

Ben Roodman April 10, 2014

FOBO is the addicting auction mobile app that even has famous gadget editors hooked. Currently only available in San Francisco, FOBO has a guaranteed to sell format that removes the wariness that comes with listing on Craigslist or eBay. The name of the app itself, FOBO, is an acronym for the term Free Or Best Offer.

Ryan Block GDGT Editor and Blogger on Twitter


Every item posted to FOBO is guaranteed to sell within the 97 minute auction cycle and if there are no offers then FOBO itself will purchase it for the list price and even pick it up. The initial auction price is automatically generated by FOBO based on the item’s model number, original price, condition, and current estimated market value. This reassures the seller of a guaranteed base price that they would receive before finalizing the listing. This system does however have a caveat of not working particularly well for the seller with bundled sets of items such as a gaming system, a stack of games, and accessories.


As a FOBO user, you setup your account with the categories of electronics that you want to follow such as MacBook Pros, Xbox, iPads, etc. FOBO users are then notified that an auction featuring an electronics category they’re following has started and can follow specific item listings with real-time notifications of bids. The notification system is not without its hiccups of lagging or overly abundant notifications if you follow a popular listing category, but for right now I don’t mind, as I’m personally addicted to scoping out all kinds of gadgets for sale.


The exchange between buyers and sellers is easy. No shipping ever. Buyers are required to come meet the seller within 48 hours to pick up the item and there is no money exchanged in person. Buyer instead pays through the app with a pre-linked credit to their account which is only charged after they’ve confirmed receipt of an item. When testing FOBO, I have purchased several items flawlessly, 2 of my 3 auctions sold to other users, and ultimately I was happy about the final price I received for items that had been sitting in my closet for years. I was able to communicate directly with buyers and sellers via text after each auction had ended and meet each buyer/seller convenient nearby location. My third auction, an unopened Wii game, team FOBO purchased for $6 and promptly picked it up from the next day.

There is however a transaction fee of 15% the sale price of items sold – even on items team FOBO purchases themselves. The transaction fee is subtracted from the deposits made to your account after the receipt of an item has been marked as delivered in app. Beware that this can potentially be a large cut of $75-100 if you’re selling an old MacBook Pro, but perhaps you’re glad that it is at least sold.

Overall, the creators of FOBO have a bit of experience attempting to redefine the local listing space with their previous app, Yardsale, a Craigslist killer that never caught critical mass, but they have a new winner and local favorite with FOBO.

Ben Roodman

Benjamin Roodman
Senior Contributing Editor
Benjamin Roodman is an advocate for getting to the truth of what converts in mobile. Well versed in mobile advertising platforms with a notable aptitude and passion for analytics, he's currently putting deals together as head of partnerships at a mobile data startup. Benjamin has previously held Business Development positions at AOL Advertising and helped establish several funded location-based consumer startups.
Follow me on twitter @BRoodman

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