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6/14/2006
02:57 PM
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eBay Is Sold On Wikis

eBay is partnering with JotSpot to offer a wiki where buyers and sellers can exchange best practices. The auctioneer is also joining with Kaboodle to offer a site for collectibles fans.

EBay is teaming up with wiki application provider JotSpot to offer the eBay Community Wiki, a Wikipedia-style information resource where buyers and sellers can exchange information about best practices, tips, and tricks.

Wikis are collaborative Web sites that can be edited by their users. They're structurally better suited to serving as a persistent information resource than online threaded discussion forums.

"[eBay has] always viewed [itself] as a community-driven company," says JotSpot co-founder and CEO Joe Kraus. "Community is at the heart of what they've done."

The announcement comes after eBay executives on Monday said that the company planned to enter the online advertising market with a service called eBay AdContext.

In the way that Google's AdSense lets affiliated publishers host Google ads on their own Web sites, AdContext will let eBay members promote auctions on other Web sites in exchange for a sale commission.

In another community-related announcement on Monday, online information sharing service Kaboodle said that it's partnering with eBay to provide a new "social collecting" destination called MyCollectibles. It's a service designed to facilitate the promotion and sharing of information about assorted collectibles like comics and sports memorabilia.

Finally, eBay's preoccupation with the health of its community is evident in the multi-year strategic partnership eBay and Yahoo announced toward the end of May. The arrangement appears to be designed to defend against the encroachment of Google as much as to improve life for eBay and Yahoo members.

Yet at eBay's 2006 Analyst Conference in early May and again on Tuesday in Las Vegas at its annual shareholder meeting, company executives talked up the power of eBay's three flagship brands -- eBay, PayPal, and Skype -- to increase revenue by complementing and reinforcing one another.

"Together, they're working to turbo charge one another," said Meg Whitman, eBay's president and CEO, at the 2006 Analyst Conference.

Speaking to eBay shareholders at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel on Tuesday morning, Whitman reiterated that point. "We want to build the synergies between these businessesso that one plus one plus one equals a lot more than three," she said.

Never mind that PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel this week told Newsweek, "It's not clear to me that there are any synergies at all between eBay and Skype."

But eBay's real focus isn't "the power of three." It's the power of its 193 million of members. EBay's focus is turbo charging the company's online community by providing buyers and sellers with new technology. It's what Whitman described as "making the platform more valuable for buyers and sellers."

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