It may be a holiday in the U.S. but eBay never sleeps. Today, the American e-commerce giant announced that it is buying 2dehands.be and 2ememain.be, the two biggest online classified sites in Belgium (their names mean “second hand” in Flemish and French). Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but we’re trying to find out (we’ll update as/when we learn more).
Belgium is not the biggest e-commerce market by a long shot in Europe — that crown is hotly contested by the UK, Germany, France and Russia. But this deal is more significant for a few other reasons: it’s a sign that eBay, even after all these years, continues to acquire companies abroad as part of its overall international growth. This was something eBay did years earlier to grow, such as buying Alando, an auction clone incubated by the Samwer Brothers, back in 2000, to crack into Europe (the price then was $50 million, a bargain).
It also points to how the company, which also is seeking to jump on to the next stage of e-commerce through businesses like PayPal, is also not forgetting less tech-forward areas of e-commerce: classifieds, one of the first and oldest print-based services to go online, are not exactly the cutting edge of online sales; early mover leading sites like Craigslist have been regularly slammed for being slow to innovate.
And it underscores how international remains an important strategy for eBay. Back in March the company noted at an investor day that 64% of revenues from another part of its business, Marketplace, come from outside the U.S., and the company reiterated that this was a strategy it wanted to continue to push, which it has done with investments in India and now this.
eBay calls 2dehands.be, which is in Flemish, and its French-language counterpart 2ememain.be a “staple in Belgian homes.” Together the pair see 5.5 million unique visitors monthly. They will become a part of the Classifieds group, which operates local sites in over 25 countries and 1,000 cities around the world. “2dehands.be and 2ememain.be will remain free, local Belgian sites and by joining forces with the eBay Classifieds Group, will benefit from the innovative technologies found across eBay’s global portfolio of classifieds businesses,” the company notes.
It looks like eBay will also use its mobile and other muscle to update the two: “The development of innovative mobile technologies is a priority for the business,” the company said in its statement.