November 20, 2000 7:15 AM PST

eBay bids for expansion with programming gambit

Net giant eBay on Monday launched an initiative to bring its proprietary technology to Web sites and programmers, aiming to become the de facto operations system for online auctions.

Through the new plan, known as the eBay application programming interface (API) and developers program, companies would gain use of eBay's auction marketplace technology.

The initiative will be presented at first to a select number of licensed eBay partners and developers, the company said.

San Jose, Calif.-based eBay, which last month reported stellar third-quarter results, has been aiming to find additional revenue streams to help it live up to its huge valuations. It has optimistic earnings goals, and success with this latest plan to expand its technology to third parties may point it in the right direction.

In September, eBay representatives told analysts and investors that the company expects to reach $3 billion in revenue by 2005. To hit that figure, the company would have to report an average of 50 percent growth each year until then.

"By openly providing the tools that developers need to create applications based on eBay technology, we believe eBay will eventually be tightly woven into many existing sites as well as future e-commerce ventures," chief operating officer Brian Swette said in a statement.

With the new program, Web sites will be able to tightly integrate with eBay's marketplace and thus see the potential to tap an estimated 19 million registered users.

An API is a series of functions that software programs can use to make an operating system, such as Microsoft Windows, perform tasks including opening and closing windows and files. Use of APIs is thought to assist programmers in setting up systems without having to do the dirty work of coding basic features from scratch.

The eBay API plan is also intended to make it easier for the company and its commercial partners to expand eBay services to new devices, such as wireless telephones and handheld computers.


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