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Kruse firm, online auction organizer, cuts losses and shuts down

Originally published in Current, Feb. 14, 2005
By Jeremy Egner

Online auction firm Nancy Kruse + Partners went the way of many earlier Internet-based ventures last week, laying off its staff of more than 20 and ceasing operations Feb. 9 [2005].

The Washington, D.C., firm, which coordinated last fall’s national NPR auction, began doing online auctions with Washington’s WAMU in September 2002. It had roughly 15 stations as clients.

Kruse said low station fees and staff fatigue factored into her decision to shut down. “At some point, you just decide that you’re not going further into debt.”

She declined to discuss financial details or whether client stations may lose money paid toward future auctions.
The company was moving forward and planning future projects as recently as Feb. 7, Kruse said later that week. But employees had been complaining about missing paychecks for several weeks, according to a former staffer who declined to be named. Consultant Nathan Sterner says he wasn’t paid for his work between July and November.

Kruse says she hasn’t been notified of any impending legal action by former employees but claims the company has no assets that a plaintiff could recover. She lost more than $400,000 of her own funds and members of her family collectively lost even more, she says.

Even so, Kruse believes in a future for online auctions. “In terms of unearthing major donors and demonstrating how stations can work together, this experience has been great,” she says. “The bidders are there,” she adds. “Even today, as we were packing the boxes, we were getting calls from people who were thrilled to participate.”

Web page posted Feb. 21, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Current Publishing Committee


The first public TV auction in the early 1950s was one of many innovations at San Francisco's KQED, and it saved the station.

Auction stalwarts innovate to wring out more revenues, 1991.

Ethical issues in traditional pubTV auctions, based on the combo of phones and TV, were the downfall of managers in Jacksonville, Fla., and Allentown, Pa.

Moved to the Web, auctions save airtime, boost net revenues, 2002.


The auction reportedly grossed $679,000 for 25 stations, but reports indicate they may see no more than $250,000 of it.


The website of Nancy Kruse + Partners remains online more than two weeks after the firm shut down. Once it's gone, it will remain in Google's cache for a while.

Introduction to Online Auctions from A to Z, presentation at January 2005 Integrated Media Association Conference by Jim Wintner, founder of, another auction operator.

The NPR Auction website run by the Kruse firm for a number of stations that are members of NPR.