Commerce is conversation

Having read through the eBay-Skype PowerPoint justification, I guess I should be ashamed of myself that I didn’t get the deal before. It’s the Cluetrain, baby: If markets are conversations, then enabling the conversation enables the market and eBay is the new market. And if trust is king, then being able to talk to the person who’s trying to sell you something enhances trust and increases value. So I finally get the theory. The practice is another matter….

  • http://www.blogads.com henrycopeland

    I disagree. If voice is all there is to it, eBay could have programmed this service itself in 15 minutes. Nope, eBay is after those 25-50 million Skype users… users it can cross-market eBay services to. The bigger the network, the less power for Google, which is networkless.

  • http://andres.bianciotto.com.ar Andres B

    I’m divided on this one. Personally, I would buy more confidently if I can talk with a human. At least I’d have a SENSE of confidence that is a powerful sales pitch for me.

    But I’m with Henry on the network thing. I don’t know what plans eBay has for the future of this buy, but hooking to a network of —-ty million individuals and their contacts sure is a Good Thing.

    I’m a skype user (abianci) and I don’t think I’ll use more eBay now, but alas, I’m just one.

  • http://www.financedition.com Wayne M

    I second that, there is no doubt in my mind that ebay are after the existing users…. That is a lot of money just for a VOIP…

  • http://unbeknownst.net KirkH

    Hmm, we told you that in your comments a few days ago. What happened to the conversation? Why did it take a corporate .pdf to tell you that?

    Seriously though, that pdf is a much better explanation, just giving you a hard time :)

  • lilj

    Just recently, Skype has started pushing Paypal for payments for out-minutes and phone numbers, to the point where you get a bonus for using Paypal for your payment.

    If in fact there is significant ecommerce coming from Skype to Paypal, that’s a set of transactions that eBay stands to enjoy.

    Also, eBay & Skype make a good marriage for audio/verbal content, considering that Skype is also into micropayment/voice services — as per their annoucement this week — and it’s concommitant payment needs.

    http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20050908005313&newsLang=en

    Selling one-on-one voice services would also be a new revenue stream for ebay.

    If you factor paypal into this, it’s not so nutty.
    -j
    ps: but voice auctions with Sothebys?? LMAO. Going, going, crackle… bzzzzzzzzzt.

  • http://marginalizingmorons.blogspot.com/ CaptiousNut

    This seems to be a bad deal based on the circumstantial evidence.

    1) EBAY has a ton of cash and were under pressure to put the money to work or pay a dividend.

    2) Google was the original rumored buyer and it looks like EBAY rushed to buy Skype before Google got the cash from its recent secondary stock offering.

    3) Skype may have a base of users, but its technology is not irreplicable.

    4) The “synergies” are redolent of those touted when AOL and Time-Warner merged.

    5) Internet telephony is by no means a new technology. I could give you a list of VOIP tickers from 5 years ago that almost bankrupted my boss. How could EBAY have just realized the benefits of imbedding VOIP in their auctions? If such a combination was a no-brainer, why didn’t they invest in this earlier and cheaper?

    EBAY is a good company and will continue to grow, but this merger seems to be a stretch.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    It’s not a merger; it’s a purchase. eBay may have overpaid, but it’s the potential ROI, not the purchase price, that matters more. There are things here we cannot see, but eBay can or they wouldn’t have done the deal. I don’t think they did it just to offer their users a more convenient service. They did it to make money and they’re very good at doing that – figuring ways to charge lots of small fees, which is something that fits nicely with a service like Skype.

  • http://www.ioerror.us/ IO ERROR
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  • http://ross.typepad.com Ross Mayfield
  • David

    >KirkH Says:
    >Hmm, we told you that in your comments a few days ago. What happened
    >to the conversation? Why did it take a corporate .pdf to tell you that?

    Umm Kirk you don’t understand when Jeff talks about “conversation” he’s talking about the A-listers talking to one another…

  • http://www.lostremote.com Safran

    Jeff, if I follow your “conversation” theory correctly, it’s not neccessarily about _voice_. eBay already enables the conversation through email and feedback forms. Voice (or video chat) is _not scaleable_.

    Suppose I am selling a $100 item that 200 people are interested in. (A small number if it were a ticket to a Sox game or such). Should I be prepared to take Skype calls for a week as people have inquiries? The cost to my time would outweigh the benefit of the sale.

    With email I can post replies to whom I see fit, and if a number of prospective clients want the same information (“Where are the seats?” “How do I know these aren’t fake?” “What’s with the bullpen?”) I can update my listing to answer many people at once. I’m not Dell – I can’t afford a call center. (Even a very bad call center.)

    To this disciple, that’s the “conversation.” No?

  • Bob Ward

    Trust is king?

    What is to prevent someone from using free skype services to suggest that a seller sell the item off ebay?

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