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eBay vs. Craigslist Courtroom Fisticuffs Start Today 129

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?
  • by MoxFulder ( 159829 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:16PM (#30357870) Homepage

    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 the network effect [], but not Kijiji?

    Example: We have a huge, active Craigslist in DC. By contrast, Kijiji has practically nothing. On the other hand, my hometown of Lansing, Michigan has a small and anemic Craigslist. Not many postings in the for sale section, for instance. The Kijiji site for Lansing is also very sparse.

    So I don't get it... I can't actually find a specific small-town environment in which Kijiji actually has an advantage. Can anyone suggest a specific one? I also don't know of any marketing or technical reason why Kijiji would have gotten a foothold where Craigslist hasn't...

  • 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 LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:41PM (#30358086)
    I wonder if Edmonton, Ca is an anomaly.
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:43PM (#30358122)

    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.

  • by KraftDinner ( 1273626 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:46PM (#30358152)
    I think Kijiji is bigger in Canada, but I have no stats to back up my claim. Just speaking with friends and family. Even my non-technical family have heard of Kijiji and not Craigslist.
  • by Knara ( 9377 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:50PM (#30358188)

    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...)

  • Re:Cross Ownership (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @06:51PM (#30358882)

    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 banks to have membership in both), which in hindsight was a bad idea, now instead of having one monopoly called VISA International, now VISA and Mastercard are two monopolies that pretty much march in sync with each other (that the Feds don't really want to complain about, since it was basically their miscalculation that made the mess even bigger).

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

    Craigslist has large private investors. It's not a publicly traded company. If Microsoft tries going after Google. Microsoft would have to notify Google as soon as it accumulates 5% of the company. Plus, also the Feds would almost certainly block any attempt from Microsoft to get any board seat on Google.

    And in the case of Google and Apple, the Google board member actually resigned from Apple's board citing conflicts of interests. Initially, the Google guy would just seat out the parts of the discussion on the board that involved the competing business units. Personally, I doubt Ebay gave the same courtesy to Craigslist, since Craigslist has essentially only one business unit and only twelve employees.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault