Bought and sold
Residential real estate is sold. You decide to sell your house, hire a broker and advertise and have open houses. The buyer gets the message and responds if interested.
NCAA stars are bought. The high school kids play their best football and scouts come and find them, court them and 'buy' their services.
Venture Capitalists do a little of both, but it's primarily a sell function. Entrepreneurs write business plans and pitch them.
The hottest properties in an MBA program are often bought. Big consulting firms come on campus to interview, looking for the masters of the universe.
I think it's interesting to consider flopping the buying and the selling.
Companies can go out and find startups that aren't for sale and offer to buy them. Real estate investors can write to people about buying their homes--if and when they decide to sell.
Of course, this already happens, but not so much. When I ran Yoyodyne, we sold advertising to big companies like MasterCard, Procter & Gamble and AOL. And the ads worked. We had hundreds of clients and made thousands of sales calls... and I can't remember once that someone called us up and asked to buy an ad. If they had, you can bet we not only would have been receptive, we would have been discounting our prices as well.
More important than the price break is the idea of being in control, of not just waiting for the next big thing to find you. When a buyer and seller get together, sometimes the possibilities for both sides increase.
[Kevin just riffed on a similar but different aspect of this.]