eBay sells share in craigslist back to craigslist

It’s a fairly typical sphinxlike announcement from eBay Inc.:

“eBay, Inc. announced today it has sold its equity interest in craigslist back to craigslist. In 2004, eBay acquired a 28.4% equity interest in craigslist. Under a confidential settlement agreement, craigslist has repurchased all of eBay’s equity and all litigation between eBay and craigslist will be dismissed.”

Rewind. eBay bought a chunk of craigslist back in 2004. This article considers the purchase. The idea back then was that eBay wanted to best understand how online classifieds businesses worked and craigslist led the way at that time so they wanted to be at the table. eBay owned auctions and consumer to consumer sales in 2004 and was seeking expansion. But it also didn’t appreciate the possible rise of Amazon as a B2C competitor.

Buying the substantial share in craigslist was controversial and, doubtless, eBay paid a fair chunk of millions for it. The relationship was never happy though, litigation ensued, and (I imagine) nothing much good came out of it for either party. I suppose eBay must be at least making backing the cash they spent on the purchase over a decade ago. But who knows? craigslist ain’t what it used to be.

The interesting question is whether this sale is a retreat by eBay away from classifieds. With the eBay/Paypal divorce looming, all assumptions are moot. The eBay Enterprise division, after all, is being sold too.

And don’t forget eBay owns Gumtree. Selling that would likely realise a fair chuck of change.

Has anyone heard anything?