Online Purchasing Simplified By Swaptree

    May 12, 2006

A new online bartering service is hoping to simplify the way people get (and get rid of) used goods. Swaptree intends to let consumers directly trade books, CDs, DVDs, and videogames, with up to four users able to participate in a single transaction.

Although Swaptree isn’t the first Internet bartering program, creator Greg Boesel can boast of producing the first site that enables exchanges between more than two people. An algorithm Boesel wrote compares user-created “want” and “have” lists to match up potential trading partners.

The algorithm will result in trades where one person could ship a book to another user, who would mail a CD to a third, who would in turn send a DVD to the first user. Although the first four-way swap, an even more complicated venture, took 20 minutes of computing time to be realized, Boesel and his team have now reduced that to about one-fifth of a second.

Swaptree is possible thanks to 18 original investors who contributed a total of $300,000. A handful of programmers, recruited from India, have since joined Boesel’s team, and the company recently received $1.4 million in funds. A beta version of Swaptree has become available at, and trading will initially be limited to books, CDs, DVDs, and videogames. Other Web bartering services have allowed more categories of items (if they placed any limits at all), but Boesel is open to adding other groupings.

The website will not charge users any fees; instead, it will generate money through advertising. Shipping charges should be the only cost to individuals.

Swaptree is an interesting and promising concept, and may do quite well among eBayers who wish to cut out the middleman.

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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.