Half.com will soon shrink to nothing, but don't think it was a half-baked idea. After paying about $241 million for it in 2000, eBay
Half, which allows users to easily sell books, videos, and music in a fixed-price format, had grown to be the fourth most-visited consumer commerce site on the Internet by the time of purchase. With the deal, eBay was taking direct aim at Amazon.com's
But much as Amazon's foray into auctions did little to harm eBay, Amazon has continued to grow and flourish, despite its rival's efforts. It introduced a feature, for example, that alerts potential buyers to cheaper, used versions of an item.
This is not a case of eBay abandoning a cause or getting nothing for its purchase. One of the reasons for closing down Half is the success of books, videos, and music on eBay itself. Plus, the fixed-price format now accounts for almost a quarter of its overall sales. Josh Kopelman, who will be departing as Half's head in April, told The Wall Street Journal, "Right now, when someone wants to sell a book, it's hard to tell them whether to sell it on eBay or Half." Management hopes this move will alleviate that confusion without losing sellers.
This is not to say some aspects of Half haven't been disappointing. Attempts to move into sales of electronics, computers, toys, and other goods produced mediocre results. Why split efforts between two sites when eBay itself offers ways to sell such items in either an auction or fixed-price format?
The company continues to evolve by trying new things, keeping what works, and shedding what doesn't. While the name may disappear, Half's heart lives on and its purchase made eBay a better business.