By Leena Rao
eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) has acquired location-based media company Where.com, the ecommerce giant tells us. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed and the acquisition is expected to close during the second quarter of 2011.
Where, which has raised nearly $20 million in funding, builds location-based mobile apps across every major mobile device platform—including Android, iPhone, and Blackberry—and boasts about 4 million active users a month. The apps show local listings for restaurants, bars, merchants, and events, and also suggests places and deals for you based on your location and past behavior. Last year, Where acquired daily deals site Local Ginger, which is now WhereBuys.
Where also offers a location-based ad network, which allow advertisers to show their mobile ads only to people near their store, or perhaps near a competitor’s store (after the user opts in to see these types of ads). Currently, more than 120,000 retailers, brands and small merchants use Where’s network daily to reach new audiences and deliver real-time foot traffic to their doorstep.
The company will report to the PayPal business unit. PayPal spokesperson Anuj Nayar tells us that the reasoning behind acquiring Where focused on the Boston-based company’s talent, IP and technology. “Ebay and PayPal are both investing in multi-channel commerce and the online to offline experience,” he explains, “this acquisition represents that.”
Where will continue to operate independently but eBay and PayPal are both looking for ways to sync the technologies. PayPal will be integrated into Where’s mobile app as a payments mechanism for its local deals, says Nayar.
It’s not a surprising buy for eBay considering its massive push into local commerce and online to offline shopping. The company bought Milo and quickly added its local product results to its mobile apps and search. And eBay bought barcode scanning app RedLaser to add the ability to scan products at a store via its mobile apps and look up results on eBay properties.
What’s interesting about the deal with Where is that the company reports into PayPal, which signifies the payments unit’s push into local and location-based payments as well. Where was also granted an important patent late last year relating to geofencing, which covers 31 claims ranging from sending an alert to offering a coupon when somebody crosses a geofence with a mobile device. Where had a number of ways it was planning to incorporate geofencing, but it’s interesting to see eBay and PayPal invest so heavily in a location-based service.
Clearly, eBay is moving into the direction of serving geo-targeted ads and offers. With Paypal, they will have the ability to close the loop and purchase items as well. Theoretically, eBay can now track mobile ads from impressions to purchase. That’s pretty powerful considering the massive market size of both mobile advertising and mobile e-commerce.