eBay founder Pierre Omidyar can breathe a sigh of relief. eBay announced today it sold its equity interest in Craigslist back to the classifieds site, and as part of the deal, all litigation between the two companies will be dismissed.
The case stems back to 2004 when eBay purchased almost a third of the classifieds website, but there was a clash of cultures, and the companies ended up suing each other. eBay filed a corporate governance lawsuit against Craigslist - we covered the Delaware trial in 2009. (Who won? See this AuctionBytes Blog post
The following year, Craigslist added eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to its lawsuit, which had yet to be tried.
Omidyar had represented eBay on the Board of Craigslist in addition to serving as Chairman of the Board at eBay, and Craigslist charged Omidyar, along with former eBay executive Josh Silverman with disseminating and misusing Craigslist's confidential proprietary competitive information in order to compete unfairly, among other allegations.
In a statement
published on its website today, eBay said it had acquired a 28.4% equity interest in craigslist in 2004, and, "Under a confidential settlement agreement, craigslist has repurchased all of eBay's equity and all litigation between eBay and craigslist will be dismissed."
said eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff declined to disclose terms of the latest sale, "indicating that the company considered the amount insignificant to shareholders."
One analyst called eBay's sale of its shares back to Craigslist a "presplit housecleaning" as the eBay board prepares to break up the company. Interestingly last February (2014), Omidyar had defended himself
and other eBay board members against Carl Icahn's campaign to get eBay to spin off PayPal. The board capitulated in September.
As for Craigslist, its President Jim Buckmaster reacted to today's news by quoting Shakespeare:
Love all, trust a few
Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemy
Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend
Under thy own life's key: be check'd for silence,
But never tax'd for speech.
The verse is from "All's Well That Ends Well," Act I, Scene I, per the Craigslist blog