eBay spends a significant amount of money buying Google AdWords.
Google is an aggressive company. It didn’t get to where it is by being namby-pamby.
Two years ago, rumor has it that Google recruiters showed up at eBay Live in San Jose. They tried to recruit the eBay employees who were manning the booths and doing their jobs interacting with the eBay community. To me, that crosses the line. More than offensive, it is just bad business practice – you don’t show up at your customer’s offices/events and try to recruit their employees. I’m not sure eBay said or did anything.
And now, at eBay Live 2007 in Boston, Google decides to take on one of its largest customers by throwing a party to promote Google Checkout to eBay’s large sellers. This doesn’t violate any law, but it just might piss off said customer, don’t you think?
eBay finally (!!) displayed a backbone and stopped buying AdWords. Google then backed down.
About freaking time. eBay has been way too nice believing everything that Google spouts, “in good faith”. And honestly, eBay is to blame for being so trusting – this is a cut-throat business! Google crossed the line first, so screw good faith. The gloves are off, do what you do need to do.
But it seems to me that eBay has played the chip it had. And stopping advertising spend hurts eBay too – it doesn’t spend money with Google to be charitable. It does so because it brings in customers. So, now what?
eBay won the skirmish, but my guess is that Google is in the checkout game for the long-term and will keep improving its currently-sub-par-product and keep coming after eBay anyway it can. This is going to get very, very interesting – grab a seat!
Updated on 6/19: I just saw that Will Hsu has a good post on this as well.
Updated on 6/20: After reading Alex’s post on the topic, I think asking them to leave the Gala is just silly. I mean they would have been two unnoticed guys and now instead there is a bruhaha.
Note: Three points I need to make in the interest of full disclosure
1. I was an eBay employee for five years.
2. I believe Google is a cool and innovative company in many ways.
3. This post is my own personal opinion and does not reflect eBay’s point of view. It really can’t reflect eBay views since I haven’t worked there in a year, but I am still covering my ass and being really, really clear! 😀