RealTime IT News

EBay Launches International 'Village'

Online auctioneer eBay has launched an international network of free classified-ad Web sites in six countries, after acquiring a number of similar sites over the course of the past year.

The latest brand from the San Jose-based company, launched in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, will operate under the name Kijiji, which means "village" in Swahili.

Alex Kazim, senior vice president of new ventures at eBay, said the Web sites, which are currently available in more than 50 cities, will provide a convenient and free way to meet, share ideas, trade goods or find information.

"Kijiji builds local communities online, giving neighbors a way to come together around local needs and interests," Kazim said in a statement.

The move comes less than a year after eBay scooped up a 25 percent stake in San Francisco-based Craigslist.org, a classified site that operates in 100 cities around the world.

Craigslist charges employers for help-wanted listings, as well as real estate broker listings in three major cities. That particular service, as reported by internetnews.com, is siphoning tens of millions of dollars in revenue from traditional classified sources in the Bay Area, especially newspapers.

The San Jose-based company has also purchased several classified advertising-related companies in other countries, including Mobile.de in Germany and Marktplaats.nl in the Netherlands.

The Craigslist activity has been fueling speculation that eBay would attempt its own move into the seemingly complementary classified business. Classified ads are considered an adjacent market for the online auctioneer, because consumers often use the Web site locally due to the nature and size of some of the items they purchase.

eBay has also been looking to expand into burgeoning online markets, especially China. After ending 2004 with record revenues, the company announced plans to invest $100 million to increase its online presence in China.

Kazim said the company would ideally like to replicate the Craigslist model in other countries around the world.

And like Craiglslist the Kijiji sites will also provide a place where people can meet, trade ideas and goods, Kazim said. Individuals can list and find items on Kijiji free of charge.

EBay said the launch of Kijiji will not have a material impact on 2005 revenues.