Is a Fungus Among Us?
Now these two highly questionable organizations are in a fascinating death struggle.
In 2004, eBay bought out a former employee of Craigslist and wound up with 28.3% ownership. The two companies said that deal would allow eBay and Craigslist to “share expertise, resources and creativity.”
“Craigslist is an excellent example of how the Internet brings people together,” said Meg Whitman, president and CEO of eBay. “Whether it’s to trade goods, help neighbors or speak out on important issues, Craigslist has become the online gathering place for local communities.” eBay was given two seats on the Craigslist board.
Fast forward to the next year, 2005, and eBay announced that it was starting Kijiji—a series of 50 Web sites around the world offering free classified ads in direct competition with Craigslist. Alex Kazim, senior VP of eBay’s new ventures, proudly announced, “Kijiji builds local communities online, giving neighbors a way to come together around local needs and interests.”
On April 30, 2008, eBay filed a 29-page complaint against Craigslist in the Delaware Court of Chancery, claiming in essence:
NEWMARK AND [JIM] BUCKMASTER [CRAIGSLIST CEO]
CRAFT A PLAN TO DILUTE AND DISENFRANCHISE EBAY
Let me say, if I were Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster, I would sure as hell do everything possible to disenfranchise eBay after buying into the company, learning the business and starting a competitor.
Craigslist filed a countersuit suit in California State Superior Court in San Francisco requesting a jury trial with the following complaints:
* UNFAIR AND UNLAWFUL COMPETITION UNDER CAL. BUS. AND PROF. CODE §17500
* FALSE ADVERTISING UNDER CAL. BUS. AND PROF. CODE §17500
* CALIFORNIA TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT AND UNFAIR COMPETITION
* CALIFORNIA PASSING OFF AND UNFAIR COMPETITION
* DILUTION UNDER CAL. BUS. & PROF. CODE §14200
* BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY
A Personal Digression
In the 1960s, I was at Grolier Enterprises, which was run by four dynamos: founder Elsworth Howell, whose real love was judging dog shows; VP Bob Clarke, a lovely human being who started in the Grolier mail room and died young; Ed Bakal, a rough-hewn ex-paratrooper; and Lew Smith, a brilliant, low-key marketing genius who went on to become Lester Wunderman’s creative director.