eBay: Once You’re Dumb, Twice You’re Dumber

Posted on September 23, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

In “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good,” Sarah Lacy of , SXSW and infamy describes the “rise” of Web 2.0.

But now that even Tim O’Reilly recognizes that the hole in the hull of the Titanic is pretty damn bad, he’s jumping ship.

So I have a suggestion for Lacy’s next book: “Once You’re Dumb, Twice You’re Dumber: How eBay Wasted Billions on Web 2.0.”

eBay’s desire to sell peer-to-peer VOIP company Skype, which it purchased for $2.6 billion in 2005, . It has more than $1 billion of that purchase as Skype has failed to live up to expectations.

Of course, eBay’s purchase of Skype could be classified as “dumb.” The company “originally believed that Skype would oil the wheels of its online markets by making communications easier between buyers and sellers, while also supporting new business models such as ‘click to call’.”

That was a real stretch.

But even “dumber” was eBay’s $75 million purchase of StumbleUpon. I saw it for what it was and left a simple comment on TechCrunch:

Skype 2.0?

Looks like it - eBay is now reportedly shopping StumbleUpon to prospective buyers who can’t think of anything better to spend their depreciating dollars on than a defective Web 2.0 acquisition.

It’s painful to be right so much of the time.

Clearly, eBay has wasted lots of money paying premiums to acquire businesseses with which it had no real synergies. Worst of all, it is highly unlikely that it will be able to sell them for an amount close to what it paid.

But while eBay shareholders take it on the chin thanks to top executives who have thrown lots of good money after bad, there’s an opportunity for Sarah Lacy to throw bad writing after good in an effort to produce a book that tells the story of eBay’s rise as one of Web 2.0’s greatest fools.

The Wall Street Journal’s Katie Hafner, in her review of “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good,” wrote:

One of these days, perhaps by the time Kevin Rose does indeed become wealthy, someone will write a richly textured book that chronicles with insight and acumen the rise of the most recent crop of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Sarah Lacy’s “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good” is not that book.

Lacy, of course, has proven that she doesn’t like criticism (she called one critic of her book sexist and seems to believe that anyone who doesn’t like her work has a personal vendetta).

But eBay’s Web 2.0 follies give Lacy the perfect opportunity to redeem herself by not only writing a book that is on the right side of history, but that is actually interesting.

After all, nobody really wants to read a disjointed book about Silicon Valley’s lottery winners (many of whom, ironically, haven’t been lucky - or good - twice).

But I just might pay for a book that reveals how eBay was suckered into spending billions on a couple of shitty and overhyped startups since that could be amusing.

Unfortunately, I suspect that Lacy is simply incapable of writing anything of this sort and whatever book she decides to write next will pave the way for a third book - “Once You’re Mistaken, Twice You’re Bad: The Tragic Story of a Silicon Valley Reporter Trying to Be Important.”

In the meantime, eBay will likely be left waiting for someone to tell its tragic story of its waste.

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4 Responses to “eBay: Once You’re Dumb, Twice You’re Dumber”

  1. Warren on September 23rd, 2008 11:00 pm

    Idea for a Web 2.0 book title:
    “Dumb and Dumbr: once you’re naive, twice you’re delusional”

  2. Warren on September 23rd, 2008 11:03 pm

    …. oh, and the book should be in blog form, by invitation only, and free (of course)! And, needless to say, in perpetual beta and full of typos like Techcrunch, because the “dying old media” had it all wrong with their “editors” and “copywriters”.

  3. Shayne on September 24th, 2008 8:52 am

    I’d like to see a book written that craps all over 2.0 buzzwords like “community.” I’ve been using the internet for 10 years now and through my eyes “communities” online have always existed in the form of message forums. What the hell is the difference between what message forums have been providing to users for years, and all these new “social” utilities? Seems like they are just repackaging the same concept that’s been online for years already. Am I wrong?

  4. Kevin on September 24th, 2008 6:15 pm

    Here’s a start on the buzzwords Shayne, courtesy of our own Drama 2.0 (though the second portion is missing a table tag, unfortunately):


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Drama 2.0 spikes the Web 2.0 kool aid by providing critical analyses of Web 2.0, its people, its startups and its impact on the world of media. Other topics are explored when Drama 2.0 has been drinking too much 1975 Dom Perignon. Read more about the Internet's version of Keyser Söze here.