eBay’s Kijiji Launches in the US

The image “http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/classifieds/en-US/home_logo.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Modeled on Craiglist, eBay has been operating classifieds marketplace Kijiji for some time outside the US. Now the company has entered the competitive and somewhat crowded “classifieds” marketplace here. Offering free classifieds, the site (without eBay branding) seeks to make inroads vs. vertical competitors and marketplaces such as Oodle, MSFT Expo and LiveDeal (now owned by YP.com) as well as newspapers (online and off).

This is an uphill battle but it also raises ethical questions regarding how eBay has been operating vis-a-vis Craigslist. Since its acquisition of a 25% stake in the company several years ago (from an early investor/employee who’d since left) eBay has had a board seat and essentially been looking at the way Craigslist operates from the inside.

Even though Craigslist operates in many non-US markets one could “rationalize” the potential conflict on the grounds that the US was the primary Craigslist market and Kijiji wasn’t in the US. But now that it is it would certainly appear that there’s a pretty massive conflict of interest for eBay given that it will effectively be competing with Craigslist. This CNET article quotes Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster as follows:

Buckmaster said in an e-mail to CNET News.com that because of Craigslist’s public service mission and disinterest in things like “market share and revenue maximization,” the company doesn’t really care who hops into the classified business.

“I’m not a legal expert,” Buckmaster wrote, “but I think it’s safe to assume (eBay) will continue to conduct themselves appropriately with respect to their responsibilities to Craigslist.”

Having a board seat on a company you’re directly competing with would seem to be a direct violation of eBay’s fiduciary obligations to Craigslist. In one sense the ultimate expression of Kijiji’s success would be to take Craigslist’s business — which by the way I don’t think it will be able to do. Google Base didn’t kill Craigslist or eBay, Kijiji won’t kill Craigslist.

Let’s see how much promotional muscle and effort eBay puts behind Kijiji.

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11 Responses to “eBay’s Kijiji Launches in the US”

  1. yhurg Says:

    This demonstrates a few things. It reveals the modest roots of CraigsList and the boldness of eBay. I applaud Buckmaster’s statement and gather that this is a natural evolution of eBay and CragisList that those on the board and elsewhere comprehend. Sort of in the lines of Google’s acquisition of FeedBurner – http://blogproautomotive.com/2007/06/22/a-google-feedburner-acquisition-gets-major-publicity/.

  2. BlogPro Automotive Says:

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  3. Gumtree and Kijiji to Compete in US? « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] and Kijiji to Compete in US? Recently eBay brought its Craiglist clone Kijiji to the US. But the company also owns the UK-based Gumtree [...]

  4. eBay-Craigslist Suit Details Out « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] interest from the original 28% share to 25% and eBay also lost its ability to seat a director. I wrote at the time that Kijiji entered the US that eBay’s board position now had a fundamental conflict of [...]

  5. Craisglist v. eBay: What’s at Stake? « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] what I wrote in July, 2007 when eBay’s Kijiji entered the US market: Having a board seat on a company [...]

  6. eBay-CL: Smoking Gun? « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] to school” on CL and better compete with Kijiji and other classified assets abroad. As I said in mid 2007, having a board seat on a company you’re directly competing with would seem to be a [...]

  7. Internet Listings Says:

    [...] Kijiji is a site you may not have heard about before – it’s online marketplace eBay’s community based classifieds service. The site has been operating in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, and Taiwan since February 2005, and has now just launched in the US. [...]

  8. Kijiji Becomes ‘eBay Classifieds’ « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] brand. Outside the US eBay operates multiple classifieds sites, some of which it acquired. Kijiji launched in the US in July 2007, sewing the seeds of discord with Craigslist that turned into [...]

  9. YPG Buys Canpages, Consolidates YP Biz « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] publishing rival, Canpages in a $225 million transaction that includes US assets. According to the press release out this morning: Yellow Media Inc. (“YPG”) announced today that it has reached a definitive [...]

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