Ebay Back to Punching Self in Head

Havng stopped punching itself in head about Google, online auctioneer Ebay has apparently found a new reason for self-flagellation. This time it’s Ebay’s lost share to Craigslist, something that has Ebay bringing its Kijiji free classifieds site to the U.S.

Trouble is, of course, Ebay already owns 25% of Craigslist, the company causing it all the headaches. So why would it launch something directly competitive in the U.S. market? At least three reasons, so pick your favorite:

  1. Ebay remains in a monstrously deep self-flagellating funk.
  2. Ebay tried to buy more of Craigslist, was rebuffed, and is now playing rough.
  3. Ebay doesn’t think it will ever see any liquidity from the nutters at Craigslist — they’ll likely turn the whole company over to some Che Guevara preservation society or something — so it’s calling it quits on the thing.


  1. My money is on 2. The way they laid hands on that 25% is not likely to repeat..

  2. Definitely feels like a hedge to me — a “buy the bonds, short the stock” kind of thing.

  3. To me, this isn’t a brain-dead move. Craig Newmark and his colleagues, who have built a terrific service, are also idealogues (and idealistic), and cannot be easily influenced to help eBay’s strategic goals. (N.B., I’m not saying that’s a bad thing simply saying that’s the way it is.)
    Classified ads going free is part of a larger trend toward structured data (and semantic, beyond that) becoming the next major target of search engines. To the extent that eBay cares about people buying and selling goods through free classifieds (and they should!), their move to structure the data their own way isn’t such a silly move, IMO.
    I wrote about this general trend a couple months ago: “The coming demise of (paid) vertical classified directories”…

  4. eBay’s move actaully makes a lot of sense. First, they already have the Kijiji infrastructure in place in many other countries worldwide. Second, they may well do a better job than Craigslist, which, still looks like an amateur website. And finally, if its a growth segment, attacking it with multiple brands ia a good idea. Brilliant move by eBay imo.

  5. Craigslist can’t be providing any significant revenue to Ebay, so competing against it makes total sense. Analogy: If you’ve got a car in your garage that doesn’t run and you decide it can’t be fixed, you go and get another one.

  6. I find it amusing that Kijiji main difference is that there is no “personals” section. I believe this was a concious move on the part of eBay to make the grassroots marketing campaign remain PG (or PG-13) instead of drifting into the perverted trenches of craigslist.

  7. bengaltiger55 says:

    Dabbling on ebay, interviewein sellers ; you totally underestimate the liquidy of the site due to the diversity of sellers.
    Many professors, teachers, ceo’s are selling to get to the inner-seller circle.
    Ebay is not failing ; corporate ebay knows less than the core sellers.
    Many have web-sites to lead into ebay.
    Ours is better with auctions and on site store , coupled with the group of core sellers.
    The store bengaltiger55 offers good quality at low cost.
    This is the mode adopted by the long-term successful sellers.
    Web-site tie ins – hold a web of their own.
    Ebay has one killer flaw; failure to reward long term sellers.
    E-trade can be run by sellers we have studied and learned from; team work iis their secret.