Friday, December 17, 2004

eBay bites want ads - again

Angling to take a further chunk of the classified-ad business of newspapers, eBay is buying Rent.Com for $415 million. Rent.Com has a great URL and solid business booking $40 million in annual sales, but eBay's marketing muscle will significantly elevate Rent's profile, market share and top line.

For years, eBay has plundered the "for sale" section of newspaper want-ads, peddling everything from autos to a $28,000 grilled-cheese sandwich supposedly featuring a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary. Sites like Realtor, Monster and Craig's List have taken additional gulps out of the business that used to represent 40% of a newspaper's sales and half its profits.

Earlier this year, eBay acquired a 25% stake in Craig's List to encourage mutual "creativity" between the online powerhouses. Stay tuned...


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