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eBay answers craigslist's investor request

Auction site seeks eligible portal

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EBay has purchased a 25 percent stake in one of the Bay Area's most popular web sites - craigslist.

Neither party revealed the financial terms of the deal or said exactly how they plan to link their businesses. eBay did, however, say that it hopes to "share expertise, resources, and creativity" with craigslist, which sounds a lot like kindergarten Googlespeak. It seems safe to assume eBay is looking for a solid investment that will help it learn how to tap into the "community markets" craigslist pioneered.

"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. I look forward to working with the craigslist team as its vision moves into the future."

For those unfamiliar with craigslist, the site started as a hobby for Craig Newmark during the early days of the Internet. He would help people trying to sell goods get in touch with each other. Then, in 1999, Newmark decided to make a business out of the site, letting people offer up different goods and charging a small fee for job postings.

Craigslist gained popularity as San Franciscans talked up the site. Over the years, more cities have been added to the site along with information on personals, housing and more and more goods.

Some of craigslist's finer moments come near the end of the month when women and men look to offer up their "services" in order to cover monthly rent. Other exciting posts go along the lines of "I'm seeking a man that enjoys being dressed in lacey panties, likes panty hose, wears thigh highs and heels.....and getting a good dose of makeup on before going out to play.... Bisexual men are so sexy to me, be my girlfriend ok?" You get the idea.

Like eBay, craigslist helps people move their unwanted gear. It doesn't use an auction format but instead allows users to post what they are trying to sell and an asking price. It's then up to the various parties to seal the deal.

It's touching to see a willing auction site find the community portal of its dreams. ®

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