Web auctioneer eBay
continued its expansion into classified listings late
Thursday with the acquisition of Rent.com for $415 million in cash and
stock. According to eBay, Rent.com, the most visited apartment-listing
site in the United States, will continue to operate as a separate unit.
The terms of the deal include $30 million in cash and $385 million in eBay
stock. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of next
year, subject to the approval of regulators and the Rent.com stockholders.
“The Rent.com business model is an excellent fit with eBay . . . We are
especially pleased that our customers will have the opportunity to benefit
from the power of eBay and its community of users,” Scott Ingraham,
Rent.com’s CEO, said in a statement.
Rent.com’s transaction-based business model allows apartment owners and
managers to list properties on its site free of charge and pay fees only
for leases produced through Rent.com. According to comScore MediaMetrix, the
Santa Monica, Calif.-based Rent.com is the number one third-party producer
of verified lease transactions in the nation both online and off.
The Rent.com service is available to renters and property owners and
managers in most American cities, including the nation’s top 50 metropolitan
markets. The privately held Rent.com expects revenues in 2004 to total more
than $40 million.
The Rent.com deal is the fourth buy into the classified advertising field
this year by eBay. In April Ebay paid $121 million for
Mobile.de, a German-based classified site for buying and selling
automobiles, and followed that up with the $290 million November acquisition
of Markplaats.nl, the most popular Web classified site in the Netherlands.
In addition, eBay in August took a 25 percent stake in San Francisco-based
“Rent.com has been extremely successful in the apartment rental space online
and is a great match for eBay,” Bill Cobb, president, eBay North America,
said in a statement. “Together we can strengthen both businesses and help
consumers get the most out of real estate online.”
This is not the first time eBay has jumped into the barter and trade
business. As early as 1998, the company had established several regional
sites to appeal to trade-eager customers that might usually head for the
local newspaper’s classified ads.