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Tue May 20 2008 22:01:45

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Julia Wilkinson is a blogger, freelance writer, and the author of several books including "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6); Her latest ebook, "Over 500 Books that Sell for $50-$5000 on eBay," is available on her website.



The warm 'n' fuzzies are gone between craigslist and eBay. That is, assuming they were ever there to begin with. Craigslist is suing eBay, alleging that eBay used its minority shareholder status to glean proprietary information about craigslist that was used against it for the benefit of eBay's Kijiji.com classifieds site (referred to as a "craigslist killer" inside eBay, according to craigslist), unfair and unlawful competition, false advertising, and trademark infringement, among other things.

The text of the complaint unveils the juicy details. The marriage between the two sites (indeed, Meg Whitman referred to eBay's efforts to own part of craigslist as "a courtship") had issues from the start, as with many relationships where there is an unequal balance of power.

Craiglist (CL) had gotten cold feet initially, when in early discussions eBay allegedly wanted "blocking rights on all forms of corporate transactions..." and other rights not included in the minority interest. But when craigslist backed out of the deal, eBay pushed harder, inviting key CL execs to a meeting where eBay's then-CEO Meg Whitman made the case for the relationship. Whitman and other eBay execs allegedly referred to the companies' similar values and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar's "Code of Conduct."

She also emphasized how eBay could help CL on the matters of "trust and safety" and international environments.

But one of the things that impressed craigslist founder Craig Newmark and CEO Jim Buckmaster the most was eBay's "dedication to Pierre Omidyar's Community Values," with principles such as "We encourage you to treat others the way you want to be treated," which were similar to CL's own values.

(Interestingly, Buckmaster is described in his bio on the CL site as the "only CEO ever described as anti-establishment, a communist, and a socialistic anarchist.")

Newmark and Buckmaster were also swayed by Omidyar's philanthropy, according to the complaint, and found "extremely exciting" the prospect of having him on the CL board. Buckmaster even went so far as to conjecture that with Pierre and Craig on the same board, "i don't think i exaggerate in suggesting that the ensuing collaboration could have far-reaching positive implications for humanity, not to mention our respective organizations and communities." (They don't seem to like capital letters at craigslist).

But among all the kumbaya, some troubling things are alleged to have occurred which don't reflect the adage of doing unto others as you'd have them do unto you. CL says that at one point, Meg Whitman and eBay's then-CEO Rajiv Dutta purchased an option to acquire the Minority Interest from the former CL shareholder who held it, "thus precluding cl from finding an alternate home for the interest." And CL apparently had an alternative investor interested, who had already submitted a term sheet in connection with the possible acquisition.

But they still seemed off to an optimistic start, until problems arose, which CL alleges include eBay's pressuring for additional equity; planting the idea that CL would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay, as other small companies had; and a claim that eBay should not have to pay for its large volume of job-posting advertisements which they placed on craigslist.

But arguably the biggest concerns were about eBay's use of craigslist's info and name to give a boost to its own startup classifieds web site, Kijiji.com. If there is an element of humor in the complaint, it is the screen shots of the Google ads eBay allegedly ran using links to "Craigslist.org.", "Craigslist.com," and "www.Craigslist.org," with subtext such as "Compare Kijiji and Craigslist.org." The people who then clicked on the links were supposedly taken not to craigslist but to Kijiji, eBay. or eBay.ca, the eBay Canadian site.

Craigslist seeks a judgment and injunctive relief, including the suggestion that eBay may have to divest its interests in the company.

It will all get duked out (or settled) in the courts, but the questions linger in the air: was eBay's behavior disingenuous, or was it merely being aggressive? Does eBay really stand by its community values which it has held dear since the early Pierre days? Are those values only meant for the communities within eBay’s holdings, and not for corporate behavior? Who will ultimately prevail in the online classifieds space, craigslist or kijiji (or someone else)?

In her early presentation to Craigslist, Whitman had allegedly noted that one of her sons had found an apartment using the site. One is reminded of the question at the beginning of the erstwhile tv show "The Odd Couple": "Can two grown men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"




Comments (18) | Permalink

Readers Comments

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Shelly

Wed May 21 00:05:56 2008

eBay's behavior is always disingenuous- they are crude, sick, demented, demonic, vile, repulsive, cowardice, false, grotesque.... set of monsters I could never have imagined.

They would beat someone bloody for a dime and tie another to a bumper and drag them through gravel at 50 for a quarter.

Aggressive-  that is a severely generous understatement for their abhorrent behavior- shut up

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Lyn

Wed May 21 01:22:03 2008

I've said it before and it's worth repeating again and again:

You can just never be too frickin' paranoid where eBay is concerned.

Glad to see Craigslist's people taking a stand and wish them all the best of luck. I think they have a good case for the sell eBay did on Pierre Omidyar's feel good philosophy (which hasn't actually been felt on eBay in years).

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Lars

Wed May 21 01:30:10 2008

I agree with Shellys assessment of Ebays personality.

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: kerry

Wed May 21 01:32:00 2008

How come? Or how is it that on kijiji's website there is no mention of its affliations with ebay?
 

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Thumbs Up

Wed May 21 01:52:32 2008

Well said. I don't think I've seen a single positive comment to ANY article I've read about eBay in recent months. The only good things I hear are quotes from eBay execs and their constant spin. In their world, all is rosy and bright. Reality is going to bite eBay. Craigslist - STAND UP FOR YOURSELF! You have the backing of many individuals and groups, and we're cheering for you.
http://fairshake.freeforums.org

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Henrietta

Wed May 21 02:09:29 2008

Personally, if IT had eBay's name on it I wouldn't use it.

I am sure 90% of what Craigslist alleges is true.

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Mike

Wed May 21 02:30:18 2008

I now believe eBay is capable of anything. As of yesterday, eBay sellers can no longer leave negative feedback for bad buyers. Not only that, but if a seller tries to leave honest feedback, eBay has threatened to suspend their seller accounts. Check out the eBay feedback discussion board:

http://forums.ebay.com/db2/forum.jspa?forumID=113
>Biggest
mess we have ever seen!

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: BeBopDeluxe

Wed May 21 06:04:12 2008

Ebay is like one of those family pets that suddenly goes berserk and turns on the owner.  They drew us all in and then turned on us.  Even if they completely changed, I would not have any dealings with ebay or it's subsidiaries.  I hope Craigslist wins big, and I hope they are able to get ebay thrown out of their backyard!

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Lisa

Wed May 21 07:53:05 2008

Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster, these guys are heroes. Integrity, community values, ingenuous. ''We encourage you to treat others the way you want to be treated,''

They are the very antithesis of the lost souls running Ebay. Good Luck Craigslist!!

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Boycott Ebay/Paypal

Wed May 21 08:09:16 2008

Ebay has no community values. They never did. It was Pierre's big con... his grand social experiment which made him wealthy on the backs of others.

It's ALL a lie. The only values Ebay has are negative ones. Greed comes to mind first. Huge, overblown egos and total lack of concern for those who helped to make management rich are next.

You have to give them credit. They did the con very well. Look how many suckers are STILL trying to make Ebay work for them.

I hope craigslist buries Ebay in the big hole they dug for themselves. Karma, baby. Karma.

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Kal

Wed May 21 08:37:46 2008

''Pierre Omidyar's Community Values, with principles such as ''We encourage you to treat others the way you want to be treated''

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pierre Omidyar's only ''Values'' now is how much money he can make. Anything this traitor says now is worthless and a lie.

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Dennis

Wed May 21 09:41:09 2008

I hope Craigslist gets the trial by jury that they requested.  If this happens the jury will chop Ebay's head off simply because of the deep public hatred for Ebay.

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: horsemama

Wed May 21 10:27:52 2008

I would gladly buy stock in craigslist if it were available.

I'd use the sales of my eBay stock to do it, but that's pretty much worthless now.

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Raia

Wed May 21 11:26:12 2008

.... greedbay "fertilizes" their garden.... and the worldwide, self~induced, seething hatred for them grows and grows......

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Freight88

Wed May 21 12:18:00 2008

Julia, good article, we will post it on our site to get you another breed of readers. I will link back to your site.

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Melanie

Wed May 21 21:50:14 2008

I agree. There is no more "Community" within Ebay. I am forced to participate in a corporate mantra... Pay me and do as I command.

I would love to see Craiglist come out on top of the suit and then get Ebay the heck out of their business entirely.

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: Martin

Thu May 22 09:33:57 2008

I am certain that there are no shared goals between these two companies. Craigslist is about communication within a community and eBay is about owning the community...

CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville   CraigsList vs. eBay: No Kumbaya in Kijiji-ville

by: tony

Sun Dec 20 14:55:21 2009

Are we talking 2 diff. things ebay is a auction house vs. cl or kijiji are free classified sites.



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