eBay is about to branch out into the geo-location and deal market with the acquisition of a company called Where. The “Where” phone app, helps you find the best places to eat, drink and be merry based on your current location. They also run an ad publishing network that specializes in hyper-local ads.
Where has been around since 2004, and is said to have 120,000 merchants and advertisers working with them and 4 million users. (Though I must admit, I’ve never heard of them, have you?)
As a number of outlets are reporting, it appears that the merger began with the concept of adding Paypal as a payment option for Where deals and snowballed from there. Going forward, Where will be under the Paypal umbrella which could be another step toward the development of that illusive digital wallet.
The move also helps eBay bridge the gap between online and offline sales. It does seem that the auction company is much more interested in becoming a retail outlet which saddens me. As a collector of odd things, eBay auctions have been a great source of joy for me for many years, but I fear that in the future the site will be nothing but a discount version of Amazon.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the O’Reilly Where 2.0 Conference is currently in full swing in Santa Clarita. Speakers from Foursquare, Facebook, OnStar, eBay and Where, will be on hand to discuss location-aware technology.