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7/5/2007
06:28 PM
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eBay Quietly Launches Craigslist Competitor Kijiji

In addition to its investment in Craigslist, eBay has acquired a number of classified marketplace sites over the years.

EBay owns 25% of Craigslist and has a seat on its board of directors. Yet the auction company has just given Craigslist some competition, in the form of Kijiji.com, a free online classified marketplace.

Kijiji -- a name your Swahili-speaking friends may recognize as the word for "village" -- has been operated abroad by eBay since March 2005, when it launched in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. It opened for business in the United States last week.

Kijiji was developed by a small group of eBay employees and launched under the oversight of Alex Kazim, then senior VP of new ventures at eBay. Kazim is currently the president of eBay's Skype IP telephony service.

In addition to its investment in Craigslist, eBay has acquired a number of classified marketplace sites over the years including Kijiji, Gumtree.com, LoQUo.com, Intoko, Marktplaats.nl, and mobile.de. Intoko has since been merged with Kijiji.

EBay also owns another Craigslist competitor, Rent.com, which it acquired in February 2005.

Kijiji is the only one of eBay's classified sites promoted with a link on eBay search results pages, at least in the United States.

Currently, Kijiji has far fewer listings than Craigslist. Kijiji's "computers, software" category, for example, shows just 24 Bay Area listings posted since July 3. Craigslist's Bay Area "computers & tech" category includes over 700 posts just for July 5.

In May 2007, Craigslist had 20.6 million U.S.-based unique visitors, according to Internet metrics firm ComScore, enough to place first among the 25 classified sites most visited by U.S. users and a 75% increase over May 2006.

Kijiji sites, ranked 25 out of 25, saw 388,000 unique U.S. visitors in May. Given that Kijiji just launched in the United States, those U.S.-based Internet users represent visitors to Kijiji sites in other countries.

Craigslist appears not to care much about potential competition from eBay. "We assume that eBay will continue to be a steadfast member of our board, and conduct themselves honorably and appropriately," spokeswoman Susan MacTavish said in an e-mailed statement.

An eBay spokesperson acknowledged that Kijiji competes with Craigslist and said the company is retaining its board seat and equity position in Craigslist at present.

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