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Microsoft in Talks To Acquire Ebay 235

thatedeguy writes "The NY Post is reporting that Microsoft and Ebay are in talks for the online auction house to join the Microsoft family." That said, the talks aren't going that well at the moment. From the article: " Sources indicate that the talks, while still active, have cooled somewhat in the last two weeks as executives considered antitrust issues. It is unclear what the full impact of yesterday's advertising and search alliance between Yahoo! and eBay will be for talks between MSN and eBay. One source close to the matter suggested the Yahoo-eBay tie-up would not stop Microsoft from pursuing the online auctioneer."
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Microsoft in Talks To Acquire Ebay

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  • mmmm monopolies... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:41AM (#15415434)
    With MS already in trouble over abuse of market share, I can't see any anti-monopoly commission approving a buyout of this size.
    • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:47AM (#15415456) Journal
      You make it sound like any anti-monopoly commission has any power in America.
    • A lot of lobbying money goes a long way. Right now Google is doing what Microsoft was sued for. If MS played its political cards correctly they'd be able to pull it off (the purchase of eBay). The problem with so called commissions and appointees judging what's right and wrong is that they can often be tainted with money and political influence. MS has deep reaches in Washington hence them getting away with e-Murder for years. What I find to be unmentioned is the foreign take on this. When it comes to matte
      • Right now Google is doing what Microsoft was sued for.

        Really? What precisely is google doing now that Microsoft was sued for?

      • eh? what exactly? What competitors is Google putting out of business by delivering ultimatums to their customers of "if you use our competitors products it'll be curtains for you, see, Curtains!"

        Lots of people are getting all "aww poor Microsoft, getting bullied just for a few dozen Sherman AntiTrust Violations! Is big bad Google/Apple trying to eat your pie?" What you're missing is that Microsoft is just as evil as ever (They NEVER stopped Antitrust violations!) And none of their competitors has ev

    • In short, I think the monopoly issues will likely ditch the idea of eBay being purchased by Microsoft. Especially since Google and Yahoo! doesn't have anything near the scale of eBay when it comes to online auction sites.
      • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:37AM (#15415605) Homepage Journal
        eBay is not an auction site, it's an auction-style site =)

        An auction has a legal definition, which eBay doesn't meet - that is : goods have to be available for physical visual inspection for at least 24 hours prior to auction time.

        Auctions were used to return or disperse recovered stolen property (or just stolen). Once offered at auction, stolen property is not automatically returned to its owner should it be proven stolen later, unlike other stolen property.

        This is why eBay describes itself as : "eBay, the world's largest online marketplace!"

        and ... "Experience the thrill of placing the winning bid on an auction-style item"

    • I am hereby continuing to withhold the £13.57 of eBay fees I have outstanding. That will teach them to displease people on Slashdot!

      But how will I sell my fabulous Xena: Warrior Princess merchandise now?

    • by ocbwilg ( 259828 )
      With MS already in trouble over abuse of market share, I can't see any anti-monopoly commission approving a buyout of this size.

      I just woke up, so I may be missing something bleedingly obvious, but I don't see what sort of anti-trust issues exist here. Microsoft is the worlds biggest software company, and one of the webs top 5 or so search companies. Ebay is the worlds biggest auction house (online or otherwise), and owns one of the world's biggest VOIP services (Skype) and online payment systems (Payp
    • Better still, what would the implications of Microsoft owning PayPal
      Skype be?

      Would they kill Skype to let MSN Messenger take over the IM world, or would they harness the Skype technology and incorporate it into their own IM?

      Would they make Skype anti-Linux too?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:41AM (#15415435)
    Bidding for Ebay starts at $8 billion, but you can Buy It Now for $12.5 billion.
  • doesn't make sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by free space ( 13714 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:41AM (#15415437)
    why would Microsoft want to aquire a whole company when there's nothing eBay can offer that MS can't get by investing a few hundred million in them like they did with apple?
    • by GroeFaZ ( 850443 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:49AM (#15415466)
      Because eBay has something that can't be bought with money: "eBay" is the synonym for "online auction", just like "Google" is synonymous to "web search". That's the Holy Grail of brand recognition.
      • Yes, but how would that directly benefit Microsoft's MSN strategy? I mean if eBay launched a search engine today not many people will say "gee, they're eBay..the famous auction guys! so their search engine must be good!".
        Amazon tried to use their success in ecommerce to promote their search engine and yet people didn't leave Google and flock to A9..making your brand name mean one thing is often better than making it many things.

        Sure, making MSN the default search on ebay will certainly make a proportion of
        • Re:ummm (Score:3, Insightful)

          by WindBourne ( 631190 )
          If Google has only search, and MS can buy all else, then it will be only a matter of time before they own search as well. Keep in mind, that MS is always stronger when it is them vs. 1-2 competitors. When their is real competition, then MS has a very difficult time competiting (such as what Linux and BSD does to them).

          With a different admin, I would give MS zero chance of being able to even partner with e-bay, let alone buy them. But this admin does not care about legal or moral issues. I suspect that MS
          • Re:ummm (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Woldry ( 928749 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:25AM (#15415575) Journal
            But this admin does not care about legal or moral issues.

            Has there really ever been an administration that did?
          • Re:ummm (Score:5, Insightful)

            by free space ( 13714 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:39AM (#15415616)
            The thing is, Microsoft always had a "Buy for product, not market share" mentality.

            Almost all companies they bought have been startups with a really cool product ( Hilgreave, WebTV, Bungie...). As far as I know, Microsoft has never bought a Novell or a Lotus or a Compaq, they kill competition with hard work and/or unfair practices, but not with company acquisitions.

            So when you see Microsoft thinking of buying eBay instead of developing an alternative and slowly increasing their market share( like they did with IE) you know they are very desparate and afraid of Google.
            • Bungie had over a decade of experience and quite a reputation as a game developer before Microsoft even considered buying them. So that example doesn't really fit in with your reasoning. Actually it works against it.

              As a matter of fact Bungie was bought specifically for the Halo franchise. What made the Halo franchise so alluring was Bungie's previous track record along with the tech demos they had been showing off. Microsoft bought them to make Halo an Xbox exclusive at launch.

              • "Buy for product, not market share" - buying Halo (a product) certainly fits here. Yes, along the way they killed it on other platforms (the first public demo of Halo was on Mac OS 9 on a PowerMac G3 during a Macworld Expo keynote), but killing it on other platforms wasn't Microsoft's motivation for buying it.
    • You know, how they did with HotMail...and then spent years getting it back up to speed?

  • Oh, wonderful. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SEE ( 7681 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:44AM (#15415444) Homepage
    Microsoft, running eBay, PayPal, and Skype.
    • Remember MS Bob? That's the sort-of PIM that MS was offering a few years back. If you entered your password into MS Bob wrong 3 times, you would get a messagebox suggesting that you choose a different password that is easier to remember/type. If you entered a new password into the dialog at that point, it would accept it without any further authentification.

      Is this this company you want running PayPal? Isn't PayPal screwed up enough already?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:44AM (#15415445)
    MS will spend YEARS trying to dump the *nix servers out of Ebay ;-)
    • no kidding (Score:2, Insightful)

      by free space ( 13714 )
      Microsoft has the habit of 'Microsoftizing' all software and web sites it acquires, where 'Microsoftize' means "make ugly, slow and unusable".

      Hotmail, Frontpage and Visio were all excellent, lightweight products until MS added tons of links and toolbars and menus and images and made everything crawl.

      Prepare for slower uglier eBay & Paypal.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't understand why this is rated funny. Given that ebay runs on Java switching the server OS should not be a problem at all. One question remains though: Would MS try to switch from Java to .Net?
    • -or-
      MS will forget to renew the ebay domain name.
    • Parent poster reminds /. that Microsoft WOULD replace *nix servers at eBay with THEIR
      flagship product.

      It is not outside the realm of rational thought that Microsoft will be desperate to have
      some highly visible enterprise to demonstrate the successful adoption of MS Vista OS,
      even if they have to buy the company in order for that to happen. Vista is far behind
      schedule, and this only after shedding 90% of the new "gotta-have" features they were
      touting. Many, many corporations will be unmoved to migrate to Wi
      • I recall when I used to visit eBay that a lot of the URLs had isapi.dll in them. After a while, I noticed that this had gone and there was a big 'Powered By Sun' logo on the front page. Now this has gone too.
    • They run mostly Windows 2000. [netcraft.com]
    • Actually, they run Sun Solaris. Theres an icon for it right on their main page under the search box (upper right) "Java Technology powered by Sun" The link a popup containing

      eBay is Java(TM) Powered running on powerful Sun Fire UltraSPARC® and AMD Opteron(TM) servers supported by Sun services and solutions. eBay has chosen Sun's Solaris Operating System, the most advanced operating system on the planet, and its Sun Fire servers to help power The World's Online Marketplace. If you're running a busines

  • by crummyname ( 977083 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:46AM (#15415450)
    Considering that eBay has a market cap that's 20% of Microsoft's, such an acquisition would probably cause a panic among investors and kill the stock. What they're more likely talking about is a partnership/alliance in certain areas.
  • by B5_geek ( 638928 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:48AM (#15415462)
    IMHO this is great news.

    1) It gives Google _more_ of an incentive to develop GPay and Googles Ebay (G-Bay?).
    2) Now all 3 companies that we love to hate are all in one convient package (Pay-Pal, Ebay, MS)

    This is Scary because:
    Given the excellent security record that Microsoft OSs' have do we really want pay-pal tied into the OS? OR even worse if Microsoft thinks* you are not using a "Geniune" copy of it's OS, will it put a lock you your paypal account and/or deduct the amount straight from your account.
    AND EVEN WORSE: This will make it _very_ easy for MS to start charging $xx/(day/week/month) for using Windows.

    OMG the sky is falling! =)
    Should make for interesting times.
    (The Chinese proverb: "May you live in Interesting Times" is apt I think)
    • by Aquitaine ( 102097 ) <sam.iamsam@org> on Saturday May 27, 2006 @11:16AM (#15415932) Homepage
      Microsoft has a program called SPLA (Software Provider License Agreement) that anybody who is a Microsoft Partner can join (becoming a Partner is basically filling out a form). There's a bunch of legal stuff you have to sign, but then you get access to their entire library, which you can then resell -- of course you're responsible for supporting it, but you pay MS (or one of their major contractors, like Software Spectrum) a fee per month for each piece of software you use. You can sell per-user 'subscriber access licenses' or per-CPU, unlimited-user licenses. The monthly fees you pay MS are pretety reasonable -- instead of buying SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition for $1500, you pay MS $3/mo/user and charge the client whatever you want. A lot of their commonly-used software is under $5/mo., and some of the more esoteric stuff is only a little more.

      That fee includes free upgrades, so if I sell you a Windows license at $5/mo., you would automatically get Vista when it comes out. It's actually a very reasonable program, or at least it appears to be.
  • by raider_red ( 156642 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:50AM (#15415469) Journal
    I was on the eBay sight this morning and there's a new category labeled "Vaporware". It only had listings for advance purchases of Windows Vista.
  • PayPal? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @08:56AM (#15415483) Homepage
    I doubt Microsoft is after Ebay itself. I think - for Microsoft - PayPal (owned by Ebay) is the interesting asset here, especially considering their plans for subscription models.
    • hummm. Skype? All in all, e-bay has multiple pieces that MS could use to fit into their model. Keep in mind that MS is looking for a way to stop not only Google, but Linux. Linux has strength in such things as asterisk and web servers, and coming up on the desktop.
  • by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:05AM (#15415506) Journal
    I saw it as "Microsoft in Talks to Acquire Baby"

    I need some coffee.
  • by geoff lane ( 93738 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:39AM (#15415615)
    Ebay runs on Solaris and has just bought new hardware from Sun.

    We all remember (don't we) how long it took MS to convert Hotmail?

    So either MS runs a Solaris based service for the forseeable future or breaks Ebay for months while they try to get it right.

    • Ebay runs on Solaris and has just bought new hardware from Sun.

      Things are far more complicated that than. EBay also runs primarily on Java - it is one of the most successful and high-performance server-side Java sites in the world.

      In other words, almost every aspect of the way EBay works uses the opposite strategy to those suggested by Microsoft.
    • Did they ever completely replace the BSD machines that Hotmail used?

      I read somewhere that they still had BSD, but that the servers were
      configured to lie about running a MS OS.
  • by OwnStile ( 261614 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:42AM (#15415626)
    I bet they're just trying to stop the illegal sales of MS Windows on ebay...
  • BSOD (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2006 @09:56AM (#15415676)
    Bid Screen of Death.

    In the new Vista, after a crash, you have to have the winning bid before getting your crash dump.
  • ...so it *must* be true! It's right next to the story about the bouncer accused of murder who likes Chaucer and Kung Fu!

    Chris Mattern
  • If Microsoft and eBay are indeed talking, it is proof that Microsoft has way too much money just sitting around. Microsoft will ruin eBay if they were too aquire it. I don't want everything to be either Google this and MSN that.

    -Slashdot Junky
  • You can... (Score:2, Funny)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
    eBay's CEO: You can suck my tiny red-blue-yellow-green balls, Mr. Ballmer!
  • After our successfull buyout and pending merger with the United States Government, we at Microsoft believe this merger will only strengthen our products and provide our stock holders with more added value. :P

  • CRAP -- this would mean no more Skype for Linux and OS X??? As someone living overseas, I depend on that to make calls back home.

    And no, I will NOT install Windows.
  • ...is track down anyone trying to resell Windows or selling pirated copies of Windows. Once they eliminate that threat, they can safely declare victory.

  • Too bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by woohootoo ( 904621 )
    I've enjoyed doing business with ebay, but it would be over if there's a buyout.
  • Never happen (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jasonditz ( 597385 ) on Saturday May 27, 2006 @12:55PM (#15416281) Homepage
    Microsoft probably would not be able to afford eBay. I'm a shareholder of ebay myself, and the way I see it, I would need either:

    $45 per share in cash
    2.5 MSFT shares per 1 ebay share

    Which means Microsoft is either going to have to issue $30 billion in debt and spend all their existing cash, or relinquish 30%+ of the ownership of the combined company to eBay shareholders.

    I find it hard to believe they're willing to do either.

    Now, if they want to buy Skype from us or something, that's a different matter.

  • Consider the source (Score:2, Informative)

    by sfjoe ( 470510 )
    This is the New York Post we're talking about folks. Famous for its headline "HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR" and also for extorting money to kill negative stories about people. Don't place too much faith in the veracity of this story.
  • MS would vault onto end-user level servicing big time. But the most prominent thing that makes this super-fitting is that Ebay as a Web Portal is just as shitty - or even shittier - than the Windows family is as operating systems. The whole smell of Ebay put's it right next to AOL and shady Sharespyjunkware vendors imho.
  • Maybe eBay will actually get a GOOD user interface. Say what you will about Microsoft, but their products are pretty slick looking, even if they don't work that great.

    The problem will really come when Microsoft tries to port eBay into .NET :)
  • by seanyboy ( 587819 ) * on Saturday May 27, 2006 @04:27PM (#15417198)
    A+++++++++++ Would buy out large web company to protect our monopoly again.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.