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eBay vs. Craigslist Courtroom Fisticuffs Start Today 129

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the grab-the-popcorn dept.
davekleiman writes with news that former eBay chief exec Meg Whitman took the stand today to kick off the battle that has been brewing between Craigslist and eBay. The waters are further clouded by Whitman's upcoming bid for governor of California. "eBay wants to shed light on the 'coercive plan' that it has said Newmark hatched with Craigslist Chief Executive Jim Buckmaster to dilute eBay's ownership stake, ultimately stripping eBay of its seat on the Craigslist board. Craigslist has hit back that eBay used its board seat to glean information to launch its own classified site, Kijiji. Craigslist also claims that eBay used deceptive tactics to direct traffic away from its site."
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eBay vs. Craigslist Courtroom Fisticuffs Start Today

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  • Cross Ownership (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Akido37 (1473009) on Monday December 07, 2009 @04:50PM (#30357576)
    It always struck me as a little weird that major competitors should have a seat on the board.

    It would be like Microsoft having a board seat at Apple. Or Google at Microsoft. It just doesn't happen.

    What made eBay and Craigslist different? Or think they were different?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Stradenko (160417)

      Google at apple? ... oh.

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday December 07, 2009 @04:54PM (#30357622) Journal

      What made eBay and Craigslist different? Or think they were different?

      It's easier to find prostitutes on Craigslist.

    • by brian0918 (638904)
      More importantly, why should it matter? If they want to do something dumb like have a competitor on their board, they should be free to make that dumb mistake. How does it become a legal matter, unless fraud or a breach of contract occurred?
      • Re:Cross Ownership (Score:5, Informative)

        by FooAtWFU (699187) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:08PM (#30357788) Homepage
        They have a competitor on the board since the competitor elected itself to the board with all the shares which they bought. No one but this competitor is happy with this setup.
        • Re:Cross Ownership (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bberens (965711) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:27PM (#30357968)

          They have a competitor on the board since the competitor elected itself to the board with all the shares which they bought. No one but this competitor is happy with this setup.

          Clarification... No one but a significant owner (who just happens to be a competitor) is happy with this setup. It sounds like a diet form of hostile takeover.

        • by brian0918 (638904)

          No one but this competitor is happy with this setup.

          Well, if the major owner doesn't take the market's concerns into account, that which they own will lose business, so they will lose on their purchase. And they should be free to fail by their mistakes.

    • Re:Cross Ownership (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:04PM (#30357738)

      It does happen in some industries, and the law on it is pretty complex and murky (and varies by country). When it's below a certain threshold, so the minority stake doesn't exercise control over the company, and has representation basically only to ensure its rights as a minority shareholder are respected, it's considered a "passive investment" and not subject to the usual antitrust scrutiny that would ensue if, say, eBay actually tried to buy Craigslist (or buy a stake considered controlling). A lot of economists are a bit skeptical of just how passive such passive investments are, though. The keywords +"passive investment" +competitors [google.com] bring up a whole pile of writing on the subject...

    • Re:Cross Ownership (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BeardedChimp (1416531) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:27PM (#30357962)
      Or even weirder, say having MPs on the board of private companies whose modus operandi directly conflicts with protecting the public... oh wait that does happen. Patricia Hewitt et al.
    • by hemp (36945)

      eBay owns 25% of Craigslist.

    • It always struck me as a little weird that major competitors should have a seat on the board.

      It would be like Microsoft having a board seat at Apple. Or Google at Microsoft. It just doesn't happen.

      What made eBay and Craigslist different? Or think they were different?

      How else are they supposed to get away with collusion and evade anti-trust laws?

      check out www.theyrule.net and see just how interconnected various companies really are. (and then implicitly the impact on free markets and fair business practice)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stephanruby (542433)

      It would be like Microsoft having a board seat at Apple.

      Microsoft did have a seat at Apple. It had to. If Apple had faltered, the Feds would have broken up Microsoft. Believe it or not, Microsoft tried really hard to keep Apple alive (during its non-Steve Jobs days).

      Same goes with VISA and Mastercard, except there the threat was explicitly stated (in the case of Microsoft, the threat was implicit), the Feds ordered that both boards of VISA and MasterCard share board members (forcing its larger member ban

    • by Atomm (945911)

      If you really want to understand how this happened, read this wired story. It will make a lot more sense.

      http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/08/craigslist-vs-ebay/ [wired.com]

    • by Ironsides (739422)
      Ebay owns about 25% of Craiglist. That's what's different. Actually, Microsoft owned about 18 million shares of Apple at one point. That would be equal to 72 million shares today due to splits or about 8% of Apples outstanding stock. If Microsoft hadn't made sure it was non-voting stock, it probably would have allowed them to have a member on Apples board as well.
    • by camperslo (704715)

      It always struck me as a little weird that major competitors should have a seat on the board.

      Here's some background on the Ebay stake in Craigslist.

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/newswar/interviews/newmark.html [pbs.org]
      http://www.craigslist.org/about/press/ebay.stake [craigslist.org]

      Interesting clip from 2nd link:
      When he originally gave a stake in Craigslist to the executive that sold his shares to eBay, Mr. Newmark said, he never expected them to be worth anything. "I made a gift of some equity in craigslist to a guy who w

  • Kijiji? (Score:5, Funny)

    by FrankSchwab (675585) on Monday December 07, 2009 @04:55PM (#30357628) Journal

    OK, I use Ebay a lot, and Craigslist even more, and this is the first time I've ever heard of Kijiji.

    Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kijiji) says it's been up since 2007 in the US.

    Sounds like an epic failure to me. I wonder if it carries any Zune ads?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ArsonSmith (13997)

      I was about to post a dupe of your post. Checked out Kijiji.com and there doesn't seem to be anything there???

      Epic failure indeed.

      • by OzPeter (195038)
        indeed it seems a failure ... I just checked my own area and virtually nothing is posted. But I also hated the look and feel of the site. It just felt like a site I'd want to avoid.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by HybridJeff (717521)
          Its a regional thing, apparently more people use Kijiji where my brother lives than Craigslist (Belleville, Ontario).
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by lytfyre (1518695)
            Kijiji is actually quite big in most of Ontario. As far as I've seen, Toronto is about the only place where Craigslist is bigger than Kijiji.
            This is really irritating, as Kijiji is stuffed with adertising, tries to upsell you for higher placement, etc. etc.
            not sure why it happened in the first place, but it's the state of things.
            • by j-beda (85386)

              I think it has to do with when craigslist created local sites - kijiji did essentially the whole world it lots of little pieces in one big creation event while craigslist adds new markets at a much slower pace. I much prefer CL but when advertising something, I will usually post on both - kijiji seems to get more eyeballs in my region.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by KraftDinner (1273626)
      Kijiji is far from a huge failure. Many people who are power posters on Craigslist also post on Kijiji because Kijiji's user base is quite large.
    • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:05PM (#30357752) Homepage

      Craigslist is big in large markets, but in small markets, no one uses it. Kijiji rules the roost in small markets.

      IE in my homedown, of about 100,000 people, there are less than 200 posts right now in craigslist ForSale section.

      Kijiji has over 24,000.

      It is because of the classic dillema that keeps users on Craigslist (despite it being a steamping pile of crap), and keeps people on eBay (despite them charging a fortune). People searching need a critical mass of people selling, and people selling need a critical mass of people searching. It is a self-renforcing monopoloy that is a tough nut to crack.

      Craigslist has always been unpopular in small markets, that is where Kijiji got its foothold.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MoxFulder (159829)

        It is because of the classic dillema that keeps users on Craigslist (despite it being a steamping pile of crap), and keeps people on eBay (despite them charging a fortune). People searching need a critical mass of people selling, and people selling need a critical mass of people searching. It is a self-renforcing monopoloy that is a tough nut to crack.

        Craigslist has always been unpopular in small markets, that is where Kijiji got its foothold.

        This makes no sense at all. Why would Craigslist benefit from th

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by schon (31600)

          I can't actually find a specific small-town environment in which Kijiji actually has an advantage. Can anyone suggest a specific one?

          http://edmonton.en.craigslist.ca/ [craigslist.ca]
          http://edmonton.kijiji.ca/ [kijiji.ca]

          In every comparable category I've checked, Kijiji has more activity (usually by an order of magnitude.) For example "Computers" - Kijiji has 17 ads in the last hour, Craigslist has 3 for the whole day. (And that's not counting "Computer accessories" which only exists in Kijiji.) "Motorcycles" - Kijiji has 31 posts so far today, Craigslist has 3. "Furniture" - Kijiji has 27 posts in the last hour, Craigslist has 4 for the day.

          Every other categor

        • by Chyeld (713439)

          It should be fairly easy, find the home towns of each of the major investors to Ebay, there are your communities that come out better in Kijiji.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Wyatt Earp (1029)

        Here in Anchorage Alaska there is nothing up on Kijiji (14 sales). Same went for where I used to live, a small market (Skagit county Washington).

        For all of South Dakota there are 29 things for sale on Kijiji and hundreds of sales on Craigslist for today alone.

        So I'm not sold on Kijiji "ruling the roost" in small markets.

        • Sidenote: When did the Fairbanks craigslist (finally) split off of the Anchorage one? Back when I lived there, it was maddening to have the entire (rather large) state lumped into one bunch.

          Now, in New Jersey I have the opposite problem. Being on the cusp of the NYC suburbs, there are 3-4 separate CL sites that post sales/jobs within 20 minutes of my house.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by voodoowizard (1557839)
        Wow, in my town of around 30,000 and the surrounding town where the sites actually point to(Total pop just over 100,000). There is nothing on kijiji. Craigslist dominates here for sure. When the site was launched I heard about it but soon forgot. Heck there is even an auction site based out of my town and I can't find anything on it, worse than kijiji here as far as users. Just my experiences, ya know, not scientific.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BobMcD (601576)

        So if we have more Craigslist than Kijiji we get to call ourselves a big city? Woot!

        As of now the December 7th tallies in all of 'for sale' are roughly -

        Craigslist - 2100

        Kijiji - 4 (yes, four)

        Population - Roughly 450,000 for the entire multi-county area

      • Did anyone else realize that Craigslist separates by city whereas Kijiji separates by state for small markets? Im in a small/medium city(Lincoln, NE), and Kijiji has some listings, but barring one, they're all NOT in Lincoln. Maybe that might explain why the small markets on Kijiji look "busier" than on Craigslist - Kijiji aggregates results from a hundred miles or so around town.
    • Where I live, and what I buy/sell, Kijiji has *way* more users.

      Compare:
      http://edmonton.kijiji.ca/f-buy-and-sell-cameras-camcorders-W0QQCatIdZ103 [kijiji.ca]
      http://edmonton.en.craigslist.ca/pho/ [craigslist.ca]

      • by Trepidity (597)

        I think Kijiji is more popular than Craigslist in Canada in general, while Craigslist tends to dominate U.S. markets. Not sure why.

      • Rooms for rent in my area yields 1 in-town location on Kijiji. Posted October 7. It provides two other offerings (also from October) that are 80 and 140 miles away.
        Craigslist has 5 in-town hits and 6 more within plausible commuting distance posted since yesterday.
    • It's the place to go for all your Zune, HD-DVD, and New Coke needs.

    • by Xoltri (1052470)
      Kijiji is picking up steam here in Edmonton, I know of lots of people that use it over Craigslist. Craigslist refuses to update their site, and as a result I am not surprised that they have been overtaken in some markets.
      • Craigslist has no service in Ottawa, so Kijiji gets all the sales here.

        But there's UsedOttawa.com that is a lot more popular, especially since Kijiji is just awful to work with... (with all this WEB TWO POINT OH garbage I'm surprised it gets used at all)

    • Maybe it's the stupid name they picked. That looks like a wheat field there are so many dots and stalks.
    • by vegiVamp (518171)
      They don't even excist outside of North America, apparently. I suppose they just counted Canada as one more state :-p
  • Governor? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Meg won't be governor, that bitch that drove HP into the ground has a better chance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Knara (9377)
      Carly? Her business/government acumen were so bad that she not only ruined HP, but got booted from McCain's staff as an adviser.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    is like watching NASCAR: people with nothing better to do with their time or money than to go around in circles for hours over something only they care about, all the while taking money from poor people who are too dumb to not want to pay for vicarious participation.
    • by Toonol (1057698)
      is like watching NASCAR: people with nothing better to do with their time or money than to go around in circles for hours over something only they care about, all the while taking money from poor people who are too dumb to not want to pay for vicarious participation.

      I understand it's way more trendy to rag on NASCAR, but how does your criticism not hold true for ALL sports?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Daniel_Staal (609844)

        In some sports they go in straight lines.

      • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:48PM (#30358172)
        NASCAR would be cooler if half the cars went one direction, half in the opposite direction. Geeks would love it because it resembles the LHC. Oooh! Look at those particles!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Knara (9377)

        Some sports are more obviously modern replacements for warfare, allowing us to indulge in human emotional conflict with little real consequence.

        And unlike the older practice of watching actual battles, the spectators are much less likely to be killed as a result of watching :)

        (except in NASCAR... maybe...)

    • Honest question: Is Craig actually rich? From what I can tell, the staff at CL actually take steps to minimize their revenues -- to make just enough to cover costs and pay their (few) employees a good salary.

  • Microsoft? (Score:3, Funny)

    by KraftDinner (1273626) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:02PM (#30357712)
    I always thought Kijiji was owned by Microsoft.
  • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:11PM (#30357816)
    Craigslist was not selling ownership and ebay bought it from a former Craigslist Employee through a suspicious deal. After how ebay has made numerous decisions at the expense of their users it is hard to believe that they would complain when someone tries to correct something they should not have done in the first place.
    • by Duhfus (960817) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:26PM (#30357948)
      More specifically, a former executive at Craigslist (suspected to be Philip Knowlton), who owned a significant chunk of Craigslist stock, decided to sell his share and shopped around. This was how ebay got ownership: http://www.craigslist.org/about/press/ebay.stake/ [craigslist.org]
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You are right. 28% share was sold by Mr. Knowlton. But why? He was disgruntled with the direction of where the other two founder's direction. Here read an article from Mercury News.

        http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_13944966

        btw, The original 28% was diluted by CL to 25% in 2007. now, ebay has one a quarter of control.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Trepidity (597)

        I might be missing something, but that doesn't sound particularly suspicious to me. Someone who owned a stake of Craigslist sold it; isn't that basically how stakes in companies work?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Tubal-Cain (1289912)
          IIRC, there are special exceptions for companies that are not publicly traded.
          • by Intron (870560)
            Many small private companies give big stock options to key employees on condition that they get rights to buy back the stock if the person leaves. Depends on the company.
  • Disclaimer:IANAL

    I think I have to side with eBay on this one... as they bought a 25% stake in Craigslist for $25 million, how that doesn't mean they should get a say in how the company is run I couldn't fathom.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:20PM (#30357904) Homepage
      Antitrust concerns.
    • Depends on the type of shares they purchased. If they were preferred shares, you get first dibs on dividends, but no votes. If they were Common Shares, then eBay would have a say in the vote of board of directors, etc..

      • by Knara (9377)

        Not only that, but I'm not aware of any rules that say that a corporation cannot run a new public offering of more shares, just because it may dilute the existing shareholder percentages (though there may be rules that way, "if you offer an IPO of (x) shares of common stock, you must also supply (y) number of shares to group (G)", ala the NYT).

        It may not be a good idea for the stock price to do such, but nonetheless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      If I was one of the owners of the other 75% of craigslist, I wouldn't be to happy with someone who has a vested interest in craigslist failing getting "a say in how the company is run". Nevertheless, as long as it is a minority stake, anything the eBay proxy advocates should be automatically voted against by the rest of the board anyway. The real issue here is whether you should be able to buy yourself a seat on your direct competitor's board in order to be privy to their trade secrets.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      If they are making decisions to purposefully harm other stockholders (and their own interest, but hoping to make it up in increased eBay traffic), then there would be issues. If you were part owned by you largest competitor, would you trust them to make the best decisions for the company?
  • Dirty Pool (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:14PM (#30357844)

    This sounds like dirty pool all the way around.

    1). Decided to Create competing site
    2). Buy shares from a shareholder to gain a seat on the board
    3). (possibly) use information gleaned from meetings of the board towards own good
    4). (possibly) use seat on board to negatively influence decisions

    As others have mentioned there is certainly a conflict of interest here and while Ebay has every right to own shares, sitting on the board is just unethical and its surprising that the other shareholders would stand for it....

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:32PM (#30358014)
    WTF is a "Kijiji"?!? It looks like a name attempt at a logo by someone with an obsession with dotted letters.

    "Ow, man! You kicked me right in the kijiji!"
    • In Chinese, JiJi is more or less slang along the lines of "willy" or other children's words for such body parts.

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        So it's more like, "I got my kijiji caught in my zipper -- can you please kiss it and make it better?"
    • "Ow, man! You kicked me right in the kijiji!"

      "right in the cijines"?

    • by meyekul (1204876)
      I think either they were fed up with every good domain name being taken and mashed some random characters with a fist of rage, or their cat stepped on the keyboard. Either way, they compiled it in Perl and it output a classified site.
  • KijijiJooJoo back together again like it was 1983.
  • .......Meg Whitman was seen out on the playground kicking Jim Buckmaster in the shins and shouting "nyah nyah nyah"!
  • When I want to advertise my *local* video production services, I use Craigslist: http://sarasota.craigslist.org/muc/1498727387.html [craigslist.org]

    When I need someone *local* to fix a problem in my living room laminate flooring, Craiglist.

    If I want to buy or sell high-end commercial video gear, eBay.

    Craigslist is local, eBay is national.

    eBay is about "things," while Craiglist is more about services and events.

    George W. Bush's VP -- nasty chickenhawk draft-dodger, don't remember his name right now -- talked up eBay but prob

  • Kijiji sucks anyways who cares
  • JooJoo (Score:1, Troll)

    by KraftDinner (1273626)
    So how exactly do you pronounce JooJoo? Is it like....... JewJew or something?

try again

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