Decide's CEO Mike Fridgen taps power of data to change how we shop.
Decide’s CEO Mike Fridgen taps power of data to change how we shop.

eBay is buying Seattle startup Decide.com, gobbling up the online shopping research service that predicted whether prices were going up or down on consumer electronics, housewares and other products.

As part of the deal, the Decide.com service will shut down on Sept. 30.

Terms are not being disclosed, but CEO Mike Fridgen tells GeekWire that it is “positive” outcome for investors and employees.

“There are 25 million sellers on the eBay platform, and we are going to empower them like never before with tools and help them make smarter decisions around pricing, and formats and other things” said Fridgen.

All 26 staffers from Decide.com will join eBay’s growing Bellevue office. eBay, which is officially opening the Bellevue office today under the direction of Microsoft vet Ken Moss, now has more than 200 people in the Seattle area.

Fridgen, who previously worked at Farecast and Alaska Airlines, will remain at eBay as general manager of seller insights. Decide.com co-founder Oren Etzioni will not join eBay. Just this week, Etzioni, a former professor of computer science at the University of Washington, joined a new artificial intelligence institute bankrolled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The Decide team will be joining eBay in Bellevue
The Decide team will be joining eBay in Bellevue

eBay CTO Mark Carges tells GeekWire that they will use the “tech and talent” from Decide.com to improve how sellers glean insights from data flowing through the marketplace.

“What got us excited as we were doing these pilots (with Decide) is: ‘Gee, if we could give a seller — based on all of the past historical data that we have about what sold, how did it sell, what didn’t sell, what the different conditions were in which buyers were buying it — if we could give those insights to sellers to help them when they bring their inventory onto eBay, that’s going to help the sellers, and ultimately it is going to put the right type of prices and the the right type of listings in front of buyers,” Carges said.

Decide.com raised $17 million in funding from Maveron, Madrona and Vulcan, including an $8 million round earlier this year. Fridgen declined to comment when asked whether the company sold for more than $17 million.

Here’s the full blog post that Decide.com posted this morning.

Fridgen_BioWorldwide commerce leader eBay Inc. reported Friday it has acquired Seattle-based price research firm Decide.com, which specializes in helping consumers find the best times to buy products based on billions of data points from across the web. Financial terms were not disclosed.Decide.com’s employees, including Chief Executive Mike Fridgen, will join eBay’s new Seattle-area office, while co-founder Oren Etzioni has just taken on a new role as the Executive Director of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. He will not be part of the new team at eBay.

“Technology innovation – and the engineers behind it – are critical to eBay’s mission of connecting buyers and sellers to the things they need and love,” said Mark Carges, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President, Global Products, Marketplaces. “Our vision is only as strong as the people behind our platform, so we are always looking to bring strong technologists into our company, especially those who are passionate about data and e-commerce and have developed products at web scale, into our organization.”Immediate goals for Decide.com’s software developers and data scientists will include helping eBay build an improved pricing tool that helps sellers better price their merchandise and sell items faster, and leveraging their analytical skills to produce more detailed insights, intelligence and price guidance to sellers – information that will ultimately help sellers better compete, regardless of changing market dynamics.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring Decide’s expertise in data and predictive analytics to the worldwide commerce leader and empower over 25 million eBay sellers,” said Mike Fridgen, CEO of Decide.com. “We believe teaming up with eBay allows us to realize our mission of leveling the playing field in commerce.”The deal is the latest in a stream of targeted acquisitions for eBay, which has been actively growing its portfolio of technology in new and emerging frontiers of e-commerce, such as Social (Hunch), Local (Milo), Mobile (RedLaser) and now price forecasting (Decide.com).

Comments

  • David Shim

    Congrats to the team at Decide, Madrona, and Maveron!

    • David Shim

      and Vulcan Capital.

      • what?

        for getting some of their money back?

        • Cameron Newland

          +1

          • balls187

            Protip: use the vote up button. :)

          • Cameron Newland

            Thanks so much! ;-)

  • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

    Perhaps “‘positive’ outcome for investors and employees.” And eBay sellers. But I’m guessing not so much for consumers who used the service, if I read the announcement correctly. Which may open a spot in the market for another consumer-focused startup.

  • Huh?

    “Fridgen tells GeekWire that it is “positive” outcome for investors and employees.”

    “Fridgen declined to comment when asked whether the company sold for more than $17 million.”

    This is the line between a profit and a loss for investors. How can he say its a positive outcome yet not answer the 1 question that defines a positive outcome?

    If Madrona, Maveron and Vulcan lost money on this, they’re not going to go on unemployment. They might just be more reluctant to invest in Frank Catalano’s suggestion for a new startup.

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      Actually, without a business model, any new consumer-facing startup would be a very bad idea even if there is a gap in the market.

    • Cameron Newland

      Seems like an acqui-hire/talent acquisition to me. Perhaps “positive outcome for investors” means that investors didn’t lose 100% of their investment? I’d bet that Ebay paid less than $17M.

      • Ryanisinallofus

        What would you base that on? I no longer work there and have no inside information any longer but my more-educated-than-yours-opinion is that everybody did just fine.

        • Cameron Newland

          As was crystal clear in my comment, I said “I’d bet that…”, indicating that I don’t have any particular concrete insider (or otherwise) information to arrive at my guess at what happened. It appears that you and I are both just guessing in the dark here, and perhaps we’ll never know who was (more) right.

          The only reason Ebay might pay up for this business is if the IP and staff expertise was amazing (since they’re shuttering Decide.com, clearly that site wasn’t seen as having any prospects for profit as a standalone business anytime soon). It comes down to whether Ebay (and any other potential bidders for Decide.com) saw major value in Decide’s technology/IP/expertise, and at what number they pegged that value.

          • Thomas R.

            Cameron hit the nail right on the head. It’s highly unlikely that investors broke even on their investment. Given the size of the team, expenses and lack of revenue, they were most likely burning too much cash without any appreciable growth. Shutting down the business is also a clear sign. If it was profitable and growing, eBay would have kept it running.

            This business was always more of a feature and valued for its IP/Tech than anything else. It works best when paired with a direct retailer like eBay or Amazon, otherwise it’s too far removed from the point of purchase.

          • balls187

            So you’re saying you like to make uneducated and uninformed guesses?

            ME TOO!

            But I often consult my Magic 8-ball first.

          • Cameron Newland

            I just use a Ouija board. I find it increases the accuracy of my guesses by -14%.

  • http://blog.calbucci.com/ Marcelo Calbucci

    Congrats Mike, Brian, Oren, Shauna and the rest of the team!

  • Undecided

    I think it was the business model that failed them. Consumer reviews and price comparison of mass-selling items will always be free because there are millions of people that can offer this information on millions of niche sites. Consumer Reports is an exception because they earned trust and followers through its unbiased reviews over decades and through the extension of its magazines.

  • GoneSilent

    If you want to see how bad things have been for decide.com just take a look at the traffic on quantcast.com. Decide was killed by competition, basic simple services like camelcamelcamel.com and thetracktor.com

  • Paul Uhlir

    The URL has some decent value

    • GoneSilent

      It paid over a million for the decide.com URL

      • http://StartedinSeattle.com/ Stephen Medawar

        $400k – According to Mike at Geekwire Summit 2012

  • Thomas Franklin

    Would love Geekwire to find out exactly what it was acquired for and what investors actually got in return. Based on the comments — this is information that is actively wanted by your readers — and fits the bill for a news publication to unearth.

    • johnhcook

      Agreed. I am looking, and no one is talking. I will keep trying to find the figure, but sometimes this info is hard to come by, especially if the parties involved aren’t talking.

  • ruchitgarg

    Congrats Mike n team…

  • guest

    This is just sad. Metacrawler, Farecast, Decide.com are more or less the same idea being recompiled as vehicles for “build to flip”. Where is the real technology or real business in any of this stuff? How about build something real for a change?

  • http://bit.ly/11F2eas Philip Cohen

    eBay is demonstrably the greatest calculated facilitator of auction shill bidding “wire” fraud on consumers that the world is ever likely to know. Maybe this purchase will help eBay help unscrupulous merchants judge when to stop bidding on their own auction items … bit.ly/11F2eas

  • Burke

    This is all well and good, but what should people who actually used the service do?

  • Peon

    I’ve deleted the email that Decide was shutting down for us consumers. That didn’t stop them from just charging my credit card $30! Will fight & get it off of course.

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