EBay To Let Half.com Stand Alone – Sort Of

Auction giant EBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) on Tuesday said it will begin integrating its Half.com fixed-price site with its main operations in coming weeks, but will not push forward right away with plans to entirely eliminate the Half.com brand.

In a note to users on its site, EBay said it plans to keep the Half.com site running as a separate entity, though it will be known as “Half.com by EBay.”

“After carefully considering ways to offer more options to users of both sites, we have decided to align the two communities more closely together while maintaining the uniqueness of each,” the company said.

Changes Coming

EBay said users of both sites will begin to see changes in the next two to three weeks. In order to enable buyers and sellers to switch back and forth more easily between sites, users will be given a single account that will work on both sites.

Half.com also will be converted to the EBay feedback system — which uses ratings of positive, neutral and negative — from the existing Half.com scheme, which enables buyers and sellers to rank each other on a scale of 1 to 5.

Those changes likely will be followed by others, but the company said it plans to stop short of eliminating the Half.com brand altogether.

Integration Slowdown

“While our strategy and commitment to fixed price remain the same, we are not planning to rename Half.com as EBay Express Buys at this point,” EBay said.

EBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove told the E-Commerce Times that the change reflects a modification of the timetable for integration, not a change of focus.

“The goal remains the same and the integration process continues,” Pursglove said. “Our users have been telling us that a common registration, user ID and feedback process were the more immediate issues to be addressed.”

Best of Both Worlds

EBay bought Half.com in June 2000 for US$350 million in stock and took a largely hands-off approach to running the fixed-price site, which specializes in connecting buyers and sellers of used items.

Last year, EBay CEO Meg Whitman said Half.com would be more closely integrated, with some Half.com features — which users say make it easier to list items for sale — duplicated on EBay.

Moving Quickly

In October, EBay said it had moved up its integration timetable. The auction giant cut 18 jobs from Half.com and offered another 27 workers the option of moving from Half.com headquarters in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, to EBay facilities in San Jose, California.

At the time, Pursglove told the E-Commerce Times that the integration would “likely result in dropping the Half brand altogether in favor of an identity directly linked to EBay.”

But in its note to users posted early Tuesday, EBay said plans now call for Half.com to “continue to function as a separate site, although it will be more closely aligned with EBay.”

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