eBay Continues Shopping Spree With Acquisition of Where

eBay has acquired Where, a company that is focused on location-based mobile services.

eBay said the Boston-based company will assist its local and mobile commerce efforts by helping to connect retailers with consumers, and will complement its purchase of Milo last year.

Milo tracks local inventory in physical stores to give consumers an option for shopping in person in addition to online.

Where, which was started in 2004, has built a location-based advertising network, which provides deals to consumers centered on their whereabouts. Last year, the company purchased a Groupon-like offer network as well. It said today, more than 120,000 retailers, brands and small merchants use Where daily to reach local audiences.

Where’s own mobile application provides business listings for restaurants and other local services and is available on at least iPhone and Android.

The purchase of Where by eBay highlights a trend that many retailers are finding disturbing. Increasingly, as smartphones begin to dominant, consumers are visiting stores to examine the various products for sale, but uses their phone to find better selection or prices and ultimately purchase online. While that’s a big opportunity for companies, like Amazon, there’s likely also a business opportunity in directing customers to local outlets, where they get instant gratification, as well.

In a blog post, eBay said PayPal’s online payments technology will be integrated into the WHERE mobile application, allowing consumers to find local deals anytime and purchase items instantly.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, although BostonInnovation.com is reporting eBay paid $135 million. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter.

Where, previously called uLocate, has raised at least $11 million in funding from Venrock, GrandBanks Capital and Kodiak Venture Partners.

The company essentially stumbled into the mobile advertising space out of necessity. It was often struggling to keep its advertising fill rates in its own apps high enough through partnerships with mobile ad networks, like Quattro Wireless. And when campaigns ran out, it resorted to using less desirable banner ads for ringtones and wallpapers, reports mocoNews.

To remedy the problem, the company created its own local ad network, and ended seeing so much success turned it into a separate business. When it launched early last year, it was being used by sites, such as Geocade, Jambase, MocoSpace and Superpages.com. In September, WHERE said it delivered over one billion ads in 30 days and had 100 publishers.

The purchase of WHERE and Milo are only two of a number of recent acquisitions by the e-commerce giant, which also owns PayPal. It’s most notable acquisition recently was its decision to buy GSI Commerce for $2.4 billion.


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