Rumors: eBay, partners will take on Google

SAN JOSE, Calif. — While there have been denials from eBay’s camp since the rumors first began to surface late last year, a published report in the respected Australian business newspaper, The Australian, suggests eBay is aggressively pushing toward a partnership with Yahoo and Microsoft. The objective? To slow down the increasing runaway dominance of search-engine giant Google.

An article appearing in the April 25 issue of The Australian says talks are understood to be in progress at the moment, and that eBay could end up diverting a large percentage of its online marketing expenditure currently steered Google’s way and redirecting it to either Yahoo or Microsoft. If this were to happen, one side feasibly could pick up an equity stake in the other, which most likely would lead to scrutiny from Federal regulatory agencies.

A Wall Street darling, Google reported first-quarter net income of $592 million, numbers that surely have not gone unnoticed at eBay, whose stock fell 9 percent after first-quarter results. While on target, eBay’s results failed to indicate any substantial growth.

While eBay may be feeling the pinch of competition — including from Google’s own buying-and-selling platform, Google Base — it isn’t standing still. The company continues to make strategic inroads that could pay off. Last month, eBay announced it had purchased Tradera.com, a small online auction company in Sweden, for approximately $48 million. In a statement issued by eBay, the company noted that it has plans to expand online trading in Sweden using its new investment.

At any given time, Tradera.com, which was launched in 1999, hosts more than 750,000 listings, the statement said. The Web site’s areas of greatest strength are antiques, collectibles, home decor and electronics. EBay Sweden, which commenced business in April 2005, focuses on both auction-style and fixed-price trading.

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