The court case between eBay and Craigslist is increasingly beginning to seem as if it was scripted by John Grisham. It's the little guy against the big machine.
Craigslist would like us to dedicate all our sympathy to its cause, as it describes its dealings with the big, bad wolf, aka eBay. Or, as Monday's court session heard, the big, bad she-wolf.
Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist's CEO, told the court that Garrett Price, an eBay executive, had written him an e-mail that waved a large rainbow-colored warning flag, according to a Reuters story.
"He said he needed to tell me there were two Meg Whitmans," Buckmaster told Craigslist's counsel in court, according to the report. "We had met and reached an agreement with Good Meg. There was another Meg, an Evil Meg. We would be best served to know that Meg could be a monster when she got angry and frustrated."
A monster? That nice lady who, in her run for governor, promises to make California solvent without resorting to punitive taxation or pumping iron? This is surely hard to believe.
The proceedings are being streamed live by the Courtroom View Network, and one wonders just what joy the network might bring Tuesday when eBay's no doubt friendly counsel attempts to hide his fangs from the Craigslist CEO, while simultaneously snipping at his vulnerable parts.
In case you had missed the cause of this kerfuffle, eBay is claiming that Craigslist illegally diluted its 28.4 percent shareholding by "self-dealing," underhand methods.
Craigslist is claiming that eBay made a promise not to start its own Craigslist-type site and then went right ahead and created Kijiji. It seems that such a promise did not appear in what some laypersons might describe as the written form, according to the Associated Press.
Buckmaster also declared that Whitman promised him that if any problems arose between the two companies--an e-mail was produced to the court on Monday in which an eBay executive described Craigslist people as being "definitely on another planet"--then eBay would sell its shares, according to Bloomberg.
"I believed that I could rely on her statements," Buckmaster told the court, Bloomberg said.
Just as Grisham protagonists seem slightly naive to the workings of the world, Buckmaster seems to want the court to believe that Craigslist were nice guys who couldn't imagine how beastly business people could be.
In many Grisham novels, the heroes flee to freedom in some lovely place, with enough money to enjoy the rest of their blissful lives.
Has that thought never crossed the minds of Buckmaster and founder Craig Newmark? Just wondering.