EBay, StumbleUpon in talks on $75 mln deal: source

SAN FRANCISCO Wed May 9, 2007 2:10am EDT

Online auction company EBay Inc.'s Chief Executive Meg Whitman looks on during a news conference in Brussels, in this February 7, 2006 file photo. Web auction leader eBay is in talks to buy Web surfing review site StumbleUpon in a deal worth roughly $75 million, a source familiar with the talks said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Online auction company EBay Inc.'s Chief Executive Meg Whitman looks on during a news conference in Brussels, in this February 7, 2006 file photo. Web auction leader eBay is in talks to buy Web surfing review site StumbleUpon in a deal worth roughly $75 million, a source familiar with the talks said on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Web auction leader eBay Inc. is in talks to buy Web surfing review site StumbleUpon in a deal worth roughly $75 million, a source familiar with the talks said on Tuesday.

Any potential deal remains tentative and could break down, the source said. It could be weeks before a deal is announced.

"I really don't want to comment," said Garrett Camp, StumbleUpon's chief software architect, when reached by phone.

EBay spokesman Catherine England declined to comment. "We don't comment on rumors and speculation."

Silicon Valley technology blogs TechCrunch and GigaOm reported on April 18 that eBay was in talks to acquire StumbleUpon in a deal worth between $40 million and $75 million.

StumbleUpon Inc. is an online review site that recommends interesting pages within sites like Flickr, MySpace or YouTube, based on the "thumbs up" or thumbs down" votes of other Web users with shared interests. It counts 2.3 million users.

It combines a social review site with search features and as such presents an alternative to Web search leader Google Inc.. The recommendation features built into the service could serve as a referral system for eBay users to locate Web auctions that interest them, analysts say.

Earlier this year, eBay acquired sports and entertainment event ticketing site StubHub for $307 million.

StumbleUpon, which helps Web users discover new sites based on the ratings of users with similar tastes, was founded in 2001 in Calgary, Canada. After one of its three Canadian founders completed his graduate thesis, the company relocated last year to San Francisco.

Late last year, StumbleUpon introduced a video-watching site that automatically finds and plays videos that match one's interests to other viewers with shared tastes. The service makes watching short videos on the Web into the equivalent of online TV channels with an endless stream of programming.

Self-funded for next five years, StumbleUpon received a little under $1.5 million in funding in a year ago from investors including Google Inc. director Ram Shriram and Mitch Kapor, creator of the pioneering Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet software program.

Other investors were Josh Kopelman, founder of Half.com, which was acquired by eBay in 2000, and angel investor Ron Conway.

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