eBay and Facebook unveil e-commerce partnership

SAN FRANCISCO Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:26pm EDT

A general view of eBay headquarters in San Jose, California February 25, 2010.  REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

A general view of eBay headquarters in San Jose, California February 25, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook executive and eBay Inc board member Katie Mitic unveiled a partnership between the two companies designed to create a new crop of e-commerce applications with social networking features.

Mitic said on Wednesday that Facebook's so-called Open Graph -- the map of connections that Facebook users create with friends and online content -- will be integrated "seamlessly" into applications developed with certain eBay services and technologies.

EBay is trying to encourage outside developers to create applications for its e-commerce platforms and is making a particularly strong push in mobile commerce.

The company launched X.commerce, its new division aimed at software developers, at a conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Weaving Facebook features into e-commerce products has the potential to make online shopping a more personalized experience, by displaying people's thoughts about products on the virtual store shelves.

Speaking at the conference, Mitic said Facebook's Open Graph would be integrated into applications developed with eBay services such as Magento, a service for building online storefronts, and GSI, which handles order fulfillment.

Some analysts and e-commerce experts had expected a deeper partnership, possibly focusing on PayPal, eBay's electronic payment system.

Mitic's announcement was met with little applause from the 3,000 strong crowd in the conference hall.

"This is a positive step for merchants and developers, but the Street was likely looking for a higher-profile partnership with Facebook across eBay and PayPal," Doug Anmuth, an analyst at J.P. Morgan, wrote in a note to investors. "That could still happen down the line, but we do not expect it in the near term."

Shares of eBay slipped 0.2 percent to $32.75 on Wednesday, while the Nasdaq Composite index climbed 0.84 percent.

EBay and Facebook have an existing partnership the allows the purchase of Facebook self-serve ads and Facebook Credits using PayPal, eBay's electronic payments system.

At the end of September, Mitic, head of Platform and Mobile Marketing at Facebook, joined eBay's board of directors, sparking speculation that the two companies were working on new partnerships.

(Reporting by Alistair Barr; Editing by Richard Changa and Bob Burgdorfer)

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