Personally I stopped using Ebay over a year ago because 1) I could sell stuff just as easily on Craigslist without the fees and 2) For the last year or so I was only using their textbook arm (Half.com) for college texts and I graduated. However, with recent events at Ebay I believe they are fast heading toward irrelevancy.
Recent Ebay News
Two major events really got me thinking about this. First, StumbleUpon.com, acquired by Ebay in 2007 during their web 2.0 acquisition binge, was bought back by the co-founders and venture capital. True their traffic has been going down, but the lame reason cited in the official press release, “there were few long-term synergies between the two businesses”, is a nice way of saying “Ebay was stupid to buy StumbleUpon in the first place”.
Second, we have Skype, another misguided acquisition during Yahoo’s pre-Microsoft sellout days, getting released into the wild via an IPO despite reports that Skype’s founders were also looking for funding to buy back their baby.
What Does This Mean For Ebay?
Both of these scenarios demonstrate a vote of no confidence in Ebay’s ability to succeed long term. Skype is in fantastic shape with increasing revenues and a product that is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the increased proliferation of wireless internet devices (smart phones especially, but netbooks and GPS navigation units too) by giving them the ability to make phone calls all over the world for a pittance. StumbleUpon, despite its poor traffic numbers, plays in the “social media” arena and therefore has at least a puncher’s chance at riding the coattails of services like Twitter. In the past these companies wanted to be bought out because Ebay could take the company to the next level (and make the founders filthy rich), but now the founders see that they can do a better job (and get even richer in the process). Ouch! That’s a slap to Ebay’s face.
Returning to the question I posed in the title, yes Ebay is irrelevant to me. I don’t use it anymore and I don’t see any compelling reason I should go back. What do you think?