Word came this morning from TechCrunch that eBay has agreed to buy GSI Commerce for $29.25 a share, or total consideration of approximately $2.4 billion. The news comes on the heels of Oracle’s November 2010 announcement that they are purchasing ATG, and the acquisition of Fry Inc. by MICROS in 2008, among others. Whether GSI, which recently completed its purchase of WebLinc client Fanatics Inc., will change its business model remains to be seen.
Acquisitions can ultimately mean expanded reach and a wider range of services. However, it may come at the risk of current client satisfaction. Brian Walker of Forrester Research noted on his blog that the move could mean “that customers of GSI will find their key account management people laid off or even busier, placing their business priorities in further question.”
By all appearances, eBay has been on an acquisition streak, most notably (and arguably most successfully) with PayPal, but also with Skype (later sold to a private equity firm in 2009); online ticketing marketplace StubHub; brands4friends, Germany’s largest online fashion club; and RedLaser, a barcode-scanning application for Apple’s iPhone.
Given the explosive growth in the private sale arena, it’s interesting to note that eBay will divest itself of 70 percent of Rue La La and ShopRunner, both of which the company says are “not core to its long-term growth strategy.” These assets will be placed into a new holding company run by GSI founder Michael Rubin.