eBay Getting into Micro-Finance through Purchase of MicroPlace
By Ina Steiner
eBay has purchased an organization called MicroPlace, an executive revealed during a "Town Hall" event on Thursday evening. MicroPlace was founded by Tracey Pettengill and set up to facilitate micro-finance.
eBay's Chief Marketing Officer Gary Briggs was answering a participant's question about what eBay is doing to help promote saving the planet. He said in part, "A third point to bring up is MicroPlace, which a group that we purchased that is making microfinance loans available to the developing world in particular, and we think - particularly as it relates to PayPal - that we think that's a great thing to be able to do for the global community."
MicroPlace plans to launch a web-based, eBay-like marketplace to connect "ordinary" people with micro-finance entities that need capital, according to the website. Founder Tracey Pettengill is co-founder of the Silicon Valley Microfinance Network and was previously CEO of 4charity, a technology company whose vision was "to make philanthropy accessible, convenient, and efficient for companies and their employees."
Two micro-finance marketplace sites already exist, one calling the phenomenon "social lending." UK's Zopa, which is coming the to the US market, is funded by several VCs, including Benchmark, which funded eBay in its pre-IPO days. Prosper was started by e-Loan founder Chris Larsen and John Witchel and is also backed by Benchmark Capital - and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar through his Omidyar Network.
Briggs' disclosure on Thursday was the first public mention of eBay's apparent acquisition of MicroPlace. The Town Hall meeting can be heard on WSradio (http://www.wsradio.com/internet-talk.cfm/radio/townhall-archives.html).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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