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Microsoft to Buy eBay? Bold… But Futile

he NY Post reports that Microsoft and eBay have been having merger discussions, and that, ironically, the talks have cooled of late because lawyers are concerned about anti-trust issues.  Suffice it to say that if such a deal were blocked because of monopoly concerns, regulators would merely be demonstrating an astounding inability to grasp current market dynamics.

But more to the point–Is an eBay-MSN merger a good idea?  In a word, no.  It’s a bold idea, certainly, one that illustrates Microsoft’s seriousness about making MSN more than an also-ran.   But eBay doesn’t need a portal draped on top of it, especially the third-ranked portal, and owning eBay won’t save MSN.  The entity would have a fighting chance as a stand-alone company, but Microsoft seems determined to keep strangling its Internet division by keeping all its businesses all under the same roof.  As a result, post-merger, eBay’s talent would rapidly depart for greener and less-humongous pastures.  And as Microsoft struggled to integrate, staff, and manage a huge new business it knows nothing about, Google and Amazon would get a dream opportunity to chip away at the eBay seller base.

The most complementary assets Microsoft would gain in such a merger would be PayPal and Skype.  Alas, unless the company intends to spin-off eBay’s marketplace business, this seems an awfully expensive way to get them.

Concept Grades:

Boldness, Vision, Ambition, etc.: A-

Chance of Practical Success: C-

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