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eBay Sells Back Craigslist Shares in Pre-Split Housecleaning

Craigslist purists are likely rejoicing at the news that eBay has sold its share in the classifieds site back to Craigslist. eBay has had some doozies when it comes to acquisitions – Skype was its most spectacular failure from a financial perspective, and eBay CEO John Donahoe now says GSI Commerce and Magento have brought limited synergies to eBay. But in terms of pure culture clash, Craigslist tops the list, with both companies ultimately suing each other.

eBay had acquired a 28.4% equity interest in Craigslist in 2004. On Friday, eBay revealed that under a confidential settlement agreement, Craigslist has repurchased all of eBay’s equity.

The move is seen as part of eBay’s “housekeeping” as it prepares to break up the company. eBay Marketplace is splitting with PayPal and selling off eBay Enterprise, which includes Magento.

Many people had been disappointed when Craigslist partnered with eBay 11 years ago, and ultimately it wasn’t a good fit – Craigslist fought eBay’s efforts to monetize the site, and ultimately eBay launched its own classifieds site in the U.S.

In 2008, eBay sued Craigslist, culminating in a corporate governance trial in 2009.

Craigslist sued eBay and its founder, Pierre Omidyar, who along with another eBay executive had admitted to using confidential Craigslist data to help eBay launch its own competing classifieds site. At one point Federal prosecutors probed into whether that was a misappropriation of Craigslists’s confidential information, according to Reuters. Omidyar had represented eBay on the Board of Craigslist in addition to serving as Chairman of the Board at eBay.

In eBay’s announcement on Friday, it said “all litigation between eBay and Craigslist will be dismissed.”

Craigslist President Jim Buckmaster quoted Shakespeare in a blog post about the news on Friday. He also linked to an post in Pando in which a writer said the deal closes the door on a “sordid” episode in which “eBay executives – including First Look Media publisher Pierre Omidyar and HP chief Meg Whitman – were directly implicated in corporate spying, stealing secrets, and exploiting Craigslist’s anti-capitalist idealism.”

The blog had previously referred to Omidyar as a “consummate passive-aggressive predator.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.