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eBay sells StumbleUpon back to its founders

by Scott Bicheno on 14 April 2009, 10:51

Tags: eBay, StumbleUpon

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On second thoughts...

A short entry on the official blog of website recommendation engine StumbleUpon has revealed that online marketplace giant eBay is selling it back to its founders, having paid them $75 million for it less than two years ago.

"StumbleUpon is now backed by myself and co-founder Geoff Smith, along with several great investors who've backed companies such as Google and Facebook," said the blog post, signed "gmc", which we assume stands for Garrett Camp, the other founder.

When eBay announced the $75 million acquisition on 30 May 2007, senior director Michael Buhr said: "StumbleUpon is a great fit within our goal of pioneering new communities based on commerce and sustained by trust. StumbleUpon's downloadable toolbar provides an engaging and unique experience to its users, but it is the similarities in our approaches to the concept of community that make it such a compelling addition to eBay."

At the time, Camp said: "We're excited about joining eBay, as we share the same values around community and we look forward to working with them to accelerate our growth." In his blog post, however, he said: "This change will help StumbleUpon move quickly and stay true to its focus - helping people discover interesting web content."

While this must be a rather embarrassing, and presumably expensive, failure by eBay, it deserves some credit for recognising the mistake quickly and doing something about it. It now remains to be seen whether the founders can make a commercial success of a service that essentially exists in the same social media space as sites like Digg, Facebook and Twitter.

It has also been rumoured that a similar type of deal is being explored for Skype, which eBay bought for €2.1 billion in 2005, but nothing appears to have happened yet.

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