eBay owns payments giant PayPal, and PayPal is deeply integrated within eBay’s marketplace but both companies have operated fairly separately when it comes to APIs and developer relations. But interestingly, eBay and PayPal are announcing that its API teams are joining into one combined open platform business, made up of the assets of both eBay and PayPal platforms.
The idea, according to PayPal’s head of platform, Matthew Mengerink (who lead the new joint platform), is to offer developers one ecommerce solution that will offer a “complete approach” to online and offline business. And PayPal Innovate X, the payments company’s popular developer conference, will now also include eBay’s developer conference as well.
So why are eBay and PayPal joining forces on API and developer efforts? The company says that it makes sense to pool resources to create a platform that brings together online and offline commerce, shopping and payments, with mobile, social and local components. I guess there could be some interesting APIs that could combine a payments platform with eBay’s local initiatives, which include recently acquired Milo.
But it does make me wonder whether eBay is attaching itself to PayPal’s developer conference and platform because the payments company has a stronger developer community with a more widely-used API. This is purely speculative, but PayPal has been eBay’s crown jewel for some time now, and marketplace hasn’t really been growing all that much.
eBay could see a collaboration as a way to bring more developer attention to its own offerings, especially as the ecommerce giant looks to local commerce to bring new life into the marketplace.
And in terms of the conference, it should be interesting to see how the split is in terms of announcements and activities between the two companies. Innovate has always been a high point in the year for PayPal, when it releases its most innovative new products. Hopefully, eBay’s participation won’t take attention away from this.