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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

  • 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.

 

  • 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.

 

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. 

  • 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.

 

  • 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.