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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 970 - March 09, 2005 - ISSN 1539-5065    4 of 4

Launch of Kijiji Reveals Entrepreneurial Unit Inside eBay

By Ina Steiner
March 09, 2005

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It's official, Kijiji is eBay's new venture. eBay issued a press release Tuesday 7 hours after AuctionBytes outed (in the U.S.) its new international classifieds site called Kijiji. What's most intriguing about the announcement is the news that eBay launched an entrepreneurial unit in December headed by Eskander E. Kazim.

eBay's not telling much about the unit, other than telling the Mercury News that the group works independently of other eBay employees. eBay's own press release stated, "Kijiji is a start-up within eBay created by a small team of entrepreneurial employees."

Whether the eBay New Ventures group was formed to launch Kijiji, or whether Kijiji was the first project to come out of a group that has other plans, is unknown to the outside world. But the fact that the group was able to launch the new site in 3 months is telling. In a corporation known for drawn-out meetings and Powerpoint decision-making, the lightning speed with which Kijiji launched may indicate New Ventures will give eBay the ability to compete with smaller, more nimble companies.

A key difference between Kijiji's launch and that of a start-up is the promise of monetary rewards. eBay granted Kazim stock options on December 7, rewarding Kazim before its known whether Kijiji will be a success or failure.

eBay acquired a 25 percent stake in online classified site Craigslist last year. Kijiji seems to mimic the community nature of Craigslist (Kijiji means village in Swahili, according to the site). But Craigslist's secret sauce is Craig Newmark himself, who founded Craigslist and answers emails personally. eBay lost its founder's personal touch many years ago, and is often accused of having less than adequate customer service.

Kijiji needs more than a fast launch to see it compete successfully in the online classifieds arena. Whether Kazim and his band of entrepreneurs can find a winning recipe remains to be seen.


About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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