It was announced today that EBAY has struck a deal to buy GSI Commerce (GSIC) for $2.4 billion. This is a 51% premium on Friday’s closing price (although shares of GSIC are up by that much in this morning’s trading). As part of the deal, it appears GSI CEO Michael Rubin will lead a new subsidiary involving Rue la la (private sales) and Shoprunner (member-based marketplace).
This comes after a series of M&A deals at GSI over the past few years, including a strategic partnership with Intershop in 2010. GSI is still in the midst of introducing these technology upgrades to its client base.
Is this a move on Amazon’s territory? Of course it is. Ebay lacks the fulfillment, marketing services or customer care capabilities of Amazon — all of which Ebay gains with GSI Commerce. Also new to Ebay is a web store targeted at bigger retailers. For years, Ebay has had its own SMB ecommerce platform (prostores.com) that never really took off.
Over the years, Ebay has had mixed results with its acquisitions. It snatched up PayPal for $1.5 billion in 2002, which has blossomed into the world’s leading alternative payment service. But Ebay also acquired Skype in 2005 for $2.5 billion, which floundered before Ebay sold it to a private equity firm in 2009. This acquisition seems much more aligned to Ebay than VoIP.
What does this mean for GSI clients? Well, GSI routinely signs imposes terms of five years or more on its clients. That’s a lifetime for the online world. GSI clients facing contract renewal should proceed cautiously, and use extra care when considering long term agreements.
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