|Mon June 22 2015 17:10:59|
Is Sale of 11 Main a Hint of Alibaba's Interest in eBay?
By: Ina Steiner
Now we know why Alibaba laid off staff at its subsidiaries, which we reported in April - the Chinese ecommerce giant has sold its 11 Main marketplace along with its two subsidiaries that provided tools to eBay sellers, according to media reports.
But if Alibaba sold its only U.S. marketplace, does that mean it's not interested in buying eBay Marketplaces once it splits from PayPal later this year? Or could it be part of a larger strategy with the new owner of 11 Main (now partially owned by Alibaba) getting ready to make a bid for eBay?
Alibaba laid off employees at its U.S. subsidiaries Auctiva and Vendio in the spring, confirmed by spokesperson Abbygail Reyes. "We have made changes that align the organization with the needs of our business and our long-term growth strategy," she told us at the time.
Reyes' phone number is now non-working,* and we've got inquiries in to Alibaba and 11 Main's new owner to learn more about the fate of the three companies.
What may be most worrying to eBay sellers is the possible loss of eBay tools provided for free or low cost by Vendio and Auctiva.
Sellers had been initially optimistic when we reported last February on the pending launch of 11 Main, many of whom were hopeful that Alibaba could provide an alternative to eBay. But the site had an identity crisis from the beginning, and its highly selective "curation" approach proved frustrating to sellers, and the site failed to gain critical mass.
One such seller wrote to EcommerceBytes today and said sales were nonexistent on 11 Main. "Since Feb. 27, I've had exactly 6 sales out of more than 1,800 items, with 5 in April, NONE in May and 1 in June. During that time, their order numbers have increased at a rate of less than 400 a day. I have sent an email to my supposed customer rep and filed a trouble ticket with customer service and have not even received the courtesy of an acknowledgement. I think that everyone assumed that with Alibaba behind it, 11Main would make a splash, but apparently Alibaba gave them a budget of about $12 and told them to sink or swim."
If Alibaba was planning to acquire eBay, it would seem it would not sell its own marketplace to rival OpenSky. However, TechCrunch, which broke the news, said as a result of the transaction, Alibaba will become a 37 percent owner of OpenSky.
Could an OpenSky-eBay combination make sense? We honestly don't know much about OpenSky, but we can say that the 11 Main brand is not enough to guarantee it will keep the site operating separately.
We'll provide updates as we learn more. You can read the TechCrunch post here.
Update: Abbygail Reyes of 11 Main reached out to let us know her phone number is working, apparently we had a number that no longer works - we've asked for some further information and will report back.