March 6, 2003 6:22 PM PST

eBay to close Half.com

eBay plans to shutter its Half.com site next year, completing a long-standing plan to merge the online discount store with its popular auction site.

eBay will retire the Half.com site and brand name by the end of 2004, said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove. The company on Thursday told its 65 Half.com employees about the plan and the resignation of Half.com President Josh Kopelman, who will leave eBay next month, Pursglove said.

eBay acquired Half.com for $241 million in stock in 2000 as part of a strategy to compete head-to-head with Amazon.com. Pursglove said it was always eBay's intention to fold Half.com, a person-to-person marketplace for used books, compact discs and DVDs at fixed prices, into its main eBay site.

"From the beginning we've always believed it's a better user experience to have one site," Pursglove said. "It's easier as a seller to go to one site and list an item for one group of potential buyers, and it's easier as a buyer to go to one site to find listed items."

San Jose, Calif.-based eBay had discussed shutting Half.com down in 2001 but slowed down the transition after Half.com customers complained, Pursglove said. In the meantime, eBay has steadily merged many of Half.com's functions with its auction site, including user names, feedback, customer support and sign-in. More than 22 percent of the main eBay site's sales now occur in a fixed-price format, through its "buy now" feature and traditional retail storefronts, Pursglove said. The final step, which will begin next year, is to transfer all sale items listed on Half.com to eBay's site, Pursglove said.

The company will also shut down Half.com's facilities in Philadelphia, Pursglove said. Employees there will be offered positions in other eBay offices, he said. The company also named Mike Aufricht, a former Disney executive, as vice president of media and Kopelman's successor.

Half.com, founded in 1999, captured the spotlight for a publicity stunt in which it convinced city leaders in Halfway, Ore., to change the town's name to Half.com.

 

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