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Enron auction hampers DoveBid site

Auctioneer DoveBid strains under heavy Internet traffic, initially rendering its Web site inaccessible to some people as it begins to auction off the assets of Enron.

Seems like everyone wants a piece of Enron.

Auctioneer DoveBid experienced heavy Internet traffic Wednesday, initially rendering its Web site inaccessible to some people as it began to auction off the assets of Enron.

The two-day Enron auction started at 7 a.m. from the former energy trader's Houston warehouses. The Web site was intermittently accessible as of 7:30 a.m. DoveBid acknowledged the problems but didn't have immediate comment.

By 10 a.m., the DoveBid site and Webcast was operating. The Webcast of the DoveBid auction, dubbed "the auction of the year," was hard to follow given the rapid-fire bids. The Enron "E" was auctioned off for $44,000. Other items prompted the occasional squabble between live and online bidders.

The auctioneer also urged online bidders to follow instructions. "We have 13,000 of you in our system," she said. "We need your patience and we need all of you to be on the same page."

DoveBid handles the sale of surplus capital assets but has become known for auctioning off the assets of failed and struggling tech companies ranging from Webvan to Excite@Home. The company has registered to go public, although it has not yet set a date.

The Enron auction features 1,400 goodies including servers, routers, desktop computers, artwork and Herman Miller Aeron chairs.

Once the largest energy-trading company in the nation, Enron imploded last fall after repeatedly misstating its earnings. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December.

Enron paraphernalia, however, lives on. Enron items became a hot commodity on online auction site eBay, with former employees listing hundreds of items with the Enron logo or name on them, including baseball caps, ballpoint pens and commemorative stock certificates.