ebay

David Gelles

As part of his turnaround strategy for Ebay, chief executive John Donahoe has been working to revive the main Ebay shopping site. This has meant improving search results, moving to more fixed-price sales, and making the buying experience more reliable. As we reported in Monday’s paper, the strategy finally seems to be working.

Now Mr Donahoe is aiming to bring even more formality to the once freewheeling marketplace. Starting in October those sellers with the highest customer service rating will receive a Top-Rated Seller badge. The badge is more than just ornamentation. Read more

David Gelles

PayPal said in March that it planned to double revenues in two years, growing from $2.4bn to $5bn by 2011. It was an audacious goal, but today PayPal gave some indication of how it hopes to achieve as much.

With the official introduction of its platform on Thursday, PayPal invited third-party developers to tap into the PayPal experience and weave it into their own applications and websites. Called Adaptive Payments, the platform should expand PayPal’s reach, bringing it to iPhone, Facebook and Twitter applications, and perhaps into the physical retail world. Read more

David Gelles

Shoemaker Steve Madden has picked a fight with Ebay, suing the e-commerce site for allowing the sale of counterfeit watches. This is becoming a well-trodden path for retailers feeling burned by illicit activity on Ebay — Tiffany, LVMH and L’Oreal have all filed similar suits.

But if history is a guide, Steve Madden will have a hard time recouping any alleged losses. Courts have tended to rule in Ebay’s favour, arguing that the e-commerce site is not responsible for ensuring the authenticity of goods sold by outside sellers. Only LVMH won compensation, to the tune of $63m. Read more

Chris Nuttall

My BlackBerry suddenly became a Google phone today, a transformation that surprised me, but may be a cause for concern for the telecoms industry.

Google announced the Google Voice mobile app for BlackBerry and Android phones this morning. It’s a small download that can make a big difference to the phone interface. Read more

David Gelles

Ebay and General Motors might seem unlikely bedfellows, but America’s largest carmaker and the world’s largest online auction site looked poised for an unusual partnership on Friday.

As General Motors emerged from bankruptcy protection and unveiled its new corporate identity, chief executive Fritz Henderson announced an unusual piece of news. He said that GM and Ebay would be working together to sell new cars through Ebay Motors. Read more

  • In a peaceful transfer of power, Xerox on Thursday said Ursula Burns would replace Anne Mulcahy as chief executive, becoming the only female African-American chief executive among the Fortune 500’s top 150 companies. Ms Mulcahy, 56, who turned the printing company round after the dotcom bubble burst, will retire on July 1 but remain as chairman. Ms Burns, 50, currently president, is her closest lieutenant.
  • Perhaps it will be Government 2.0, after all. The Obama White House took an important step forward in its promise to use internet technology to make government more open and accountable, a move that helped to ease some of the criticism that has welled up during the administration’s early months. The new initiatives include a website, Data.gov, through which all types of government data will be released in machine-readable form, and an experimental open blog to shape the White House’s thinking on how the internet can be used more extensively in government.

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  • Look out Amazon. Scribd, a digital document sharing service, is launching an online retail market for books and documents, betting that a surge in interest in reading online will help it transform into an Ebay or an Amazon.com of text. The two-year-old Silicon Valley start-up, whose doubling of audience size every six months has been compared to YouTube’s explosive growth, will let some 60m readers of its service begin charging each other for the rights to access just about anything uploaded to the service.
  • Facebook became a relying party for OpenID, the universal web login standard that is trying to gain traction. That means, for example, that Facebook users with an associated Gmail account will be able to browse Facebook without having to login if they are coming from Gmail. But Google, an issuing party, is not likely to become a relying party anytime soon. Doing so would mean surrendering some control of access to their proprietary accounts.

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Maija Palmer

Ebay logoDespite the €1bn fine handed to Intel by the European Commission, it wasn’t all bad news for US tech companies in Europe on Wednesday. Ebay won a lawsuit in the French courts over sales of fake L’Oréal perfume on its auction site. A court specialised in trademark law ruled that Ebay was merely a host site for the sales of counterfeit goods and not a party to their sale. It also said Ebay, which has a $10m a year budget for fighting online crime, was doing all it could to combat fakes. Read more

  • Time Warner moved closer to spinning off AOL, while at the same time reporting a 14 per cent decline in quarterly net profit due to a drop in online and print advertising. Disposing of AOL would untangle what many consider one of the worst mergers in US corporate history, one that has lost shareholders more than $100bn.
  • Google lost its fourth high-profile executive since March, with the departure of display ad chief David Rosenblatt, the former chief executive of DoubleClick, which Google acquired last year. Mr Rosenblatt reportedly doesn’t have another job lined up yet, but is aiming to leave Silicon Valley and move to New York.

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  • Ebay announced plans to spin off Skype, its internet phone service, after talks to sell Skype back to its founders collapsed. Skype, purchased for $3.1bn in 2005, was meant to help buyers and sellers connect on eBay’s core e-commerce site. But there has been no synergy between the companies, and eBay chief executive John Donahoe has faced increasing pressure to sell Skype. The plan was announced one day after eBay sold StumbleUpon back to its founders.
  • Intel said the PC market has bottomed out, but offered few signs that a recovery from recent drastic sales declines was close at hand. Revenues for the three months through March slumped to $7.1bn, or 26 per cent lower than a year before, while net income fell by 55 per cent to $647m.

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  • Tech Mahindra won the auction for a controlling stake in Satyam Computer Services, the disgraced Indian outsourcing group. Tech Mahindra, which is partly owned by British telecommunications group BT, will pay $353m for a 31 per cent state in Satyam, which is still reeling from an accounting scandal that has made its former chairman the target of criminal investigations.
  • Seagate scrapped its dividend payments and raised $430m in a secured bond issue as it tried to weather the steep downturn in the diskdrive business. The latest evidence of collapsing profit margins wiped nearly 5 per cent off its share price, even as the company gained market share.

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David Gelles

At eBay’s analyst day last month, chief executive John Donahoe said he wasn’t going to force synergies between unrelated properties in eBay’s bulging portfolio of companies.

Most observers figured he was just talking about Skype, the VoIP service which Mr Donahoe has taken to calling a “great standalone business.” But if Mr Donahoe isnt quite ready yet to sell Skype, it turns out there are other eBay companies he is willing to part with. Read more

  • IBM took its offer to buy Sun Microsystems off the table when the onetime Silicon Valley powerhouse asked for more money, and said it wanted to talk with other potential buyers when IBM balked. People familiar with the negotiations said everything might still be worked out, since no other suitors are expected and the financial difference between the two sides isn’t vast.
  • The Associated Press is hoping to stanch what it claims is the rampant unauthorised republication of its content across the web. Websites – including Google News – will have to seek permission to use the work of the AP or its member newspapers, and may face legal action if they don’t comply.

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Chris Nuttall

Valley VC firm August Capital must have understood Swoopo’s business model straightaway – it’s much like its own.

The online auction site encourages users to lay out small amounts of money hoping they will win various products at a fraction of what they are really worth. Read more

  • Skype is expanding its push into mobile with the release of its iPhone application. The move is unlikely to threaten major telecom carriers, but may better position Skype for an eventual sale from parent company eBay.
  • Even as TV and print advertising shrunk during the recession, internet advertising remained strong in 2008, topping $23bn. Search remained the dominant form of online advertising, but spending on video, while still a small piece of the pie, more than doubled to $734m.

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  • You would not be reading this techfile if Sir Tim Berners-Lee had not come up with the concept of the World Wide Web 20 years ago today.  He has returned to CERN in Switzerland where it all began for a speech and celebrations and a demonstration of the original browser.
  • Time Warner hopes that Tim Armstrong will do for AOL what he did for Google. In convincing Mr Armstrong, who has been head of Google’s North American sales, to take the reigns of AOL, Time Warner is betting that the ad-sales guru who helped grow Google will be able to turn around AOL, the dial-up  service  turned online media company for which Time Warner has so far failed to find a buyer.

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