Thursday, April 19, 2007

eBay, PayPal, Skype, Stumble Upon?

EBay's latest acquisition, Stumble Upon has been purchased for $40-$45 million as reported by GigaOm. So eBay has bought Paypal, which makes great sense given their close integration with auctions and online payments, then Skype for a few billion dollars and now StumbleUpon? I'm not sure how Skype fits into eBay's core business of auctions. Would you ever Skype a person that you were buying the latest Nintendo Wii game from? And where does StumbleUpon come into play? Unless....eBay plans to take on the evil empire that is slowly brewing in Google. With StumbleUpon, which is essentially a repurposed version of Google's "I'm feeling Lucky" button, eBay users have a smart search at their finger tips. Users are taken right to a page instead of banner ads or even contextual ads, bringing some decent brand awareness at the very least. Connected with eBay's auction system, you can browse for similar items using the StumbleUpon mechanism.

As for Skype, how does this VoIP system fit in? I think that eBay wants to claim some desktop real estate similar to that annoying uninstallable Google desktop. With the acquisition of StumbleUpon, eBay's positioning of finding everything new and used, and a communication tool more intimate than IM, eBay is also building a complete desktop to compete against Microsoft and more likely Google (who announced their own "rolling of the dice" product as well). Keep this in mind as eBay who was once the garage sale of the Internet could become a viable player in the online space.

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