BBC: If the world was run like eBay


From the earliest days of the net, pioneers championed its potential for shaking-up established orders. An early buzzword was “disintermediation” – the net’s promise to cut costs by wiping out middlemen and matching consumers with suppliers. So, today, travellers book flights directly with airlines rather than travel agents.

But with the likes of eBay and Zopa the internet is the middleman, a valuable go-between that matches millions of individual buyers and sellers.