Here comes eBay!
By David Dorf on Mar 28, 2011
Although I did not expect eBay to acquire GSI Commerce, I can't say it was a complete surprise. In 2010 eBay made some interesting acquisitions leading up to this latest one:
12/2010 | brand4friends....German flash sales site
12/2010 | Milo..................In-store product inventory
12/2010 | Critical Path......Mobile apps
06/2010 | RedLaser..........Mobile apps
03/2010 | Magento...........e-Commerce software
I previously discussed their acquisition of Critical Path Software and RedLaser as part of their mobile strategy, where they are leading the m-commerce charge. Magento and Milo certainly helped build their ability to host e-commerce sites for brick-and-mortar retailers, although I know of none that have signed on.
GSI Commerce was founded in 1995 with a focus on selling sporting goods. Today they continue to be a leader in that space but also host traditional brick-and-mortar retailer websites like Toys-R-Us, Zales, and Aeropostale.
It seems that eBay wants to not only be the online selling engine for micro-commerce but possibly move upstream and power retailer's e-commerce websites. This reminds me of the failed attempt (my opinion) by Amazon to host other retailers' websites. In fact, Toys-R-Us used to be hosted by Amazon until they had a dispute and Toys moved to GSI. I guess Target is still hosted by Amazon, but since they compete on so many items, this never made sense to me.
So will eBay be able to unfold this strategy successfully like they did with their PayPal acquisition, or will this be another Skype idea? At this point, I'm leaning toward Skype.