Executives from eBay and Craigslist testified in a Delaware court over the course of the week over the auction giant’s stake in the classifieds leader. If you didn’t fork over $400 to watch today’s live stream of the culture clash between the folksy Craigslist and pragmatic eBay, I’ve pieced together what you missed:
- According to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, Google had tried to buy early Craigslist employee Phillip Knowlton’s shares, but Craigslist became more interested in eBay because it would be satisfied with a minority stake, whereas Google wanted to buy the whole company. Buckmaster said he also discussed selling the shares to Yahoo, Salon.com, the venture arm of Bertlesmann, Warburg Pincus and Kleiner Perkins. (AuctionBytes)
- Craig Newmark testified that then-eBay CEO Meg Whitman assured him that eBay would not use the confidential information about Craigslist it had access to as a shareholder to compete with the site, however the contract the two companies signed in August 2004 for 28 percent of the company at a price of $32 million did allow eBay to compete, with the exception that it would lose shareholder rights if it offered online jobs postings in the U.S.
(The Associated Press)
- In fact, eBay was at the time pursuing a classifieds business in 10 countries in Europe that fall and acquired a classifieds company, but current California gubernatorial candidate Whitman admitted she did not tell Buckmaster and Newmark of those plans. eBay said Craigslist’s board meetings were “amateurish,” while Newmark said eBay chose to be the goliath in the situation. (court video clip)
- Both Buckmaster and Newmark charged that Whitman was “not trustworthy.” When Buckmaster complained to Whitman after eBay launched competing classifieds site Kijiji, she replied that eBay did not want to part with its shares, and would in fact like to take over the whole company if possible. Buckmaster, who will continue testifying on Monday, described this as “a slamming of the door in the face.” (The AM Law Litigation Daily)
- Emails shown in court revealed that eBay anticipated that it would lose its board seat as a result of violating shareholder agreements by launching Kijiji. (The Register)
Testimony continues next week, and Craigslist has filed a countersuit alleging that eBay stole confidential information for the Kijiji launch — though Newmark admitted at the Delaware trial that he has never seen Kijiji.