BRIC-A-BRAC SELLER Ebay is being investigated over claims that its employees took confidential information from Craigslist prior to setting up a rival website.
Craigslist and Ebay have been at each other's throats for years with the former claiming that Ebay bought a stake in Craigslist and then used its position to take confidential information out of the firm. Ebay then launched its own classifieds website called Kijiji.
Reuters has obtained a copy of the subpoena issued by a San Jose federal grand jury, which seeks information on several key Ebay board members including founder and chairman Pierre Omidyar and Joshua Silverman. Silverman is perhaps best known for his stint as CEO of Skype, but the subpoena is more interested in his time as Ebay's representative on Craiglist's board of directors.
The subpoena seeks documents regarding allegations that Silverman provided an Ebay employee "with insider information about Craigslist management and provided recommendations to the Ebay team responsible for the launch of Kijiji".
According to the subpoena, in 2005 "Omidyar requested information about Craigslist's approach to adding new cities as well as advance notice of plans to launch in new cities". It seeks documents regarding that allegation.
Amanda Miller, an Ebay spokeswoman said, "Ebay believes that Craigslist's allegations against Ebay are without merit ... we will continue to vigorously defend ourselves, and we will aggressively pursue our claims against Craigslist."
What makes this subpoena all the more surprising is that Ebay won the right to keep its 28 per cent stake in Craigslist. Effectively it is being forced to defend itself against allegations from a company in which it already has a considerable ownership stake. µ