Half.com, the online marketplace owned by eBay Inc. that specialized in selling used CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, video games and books at bargain prices, is shutting down for good on August 31.
And this time, eBay is making good on that promise. The online company originally announced in 2003 that it would close Half.com – but reversed course a year later after Half.com sellers refused to transfer over to eBay.
For the next 13 years, Half.com continued to operate as a subsidiary of eBay, and users still sold items on the platform – which remained pretty much unchanged and even now operates with a user interface that looks straight out of the early 2000s.
But perhaps sales volume finally dipped low enough that eBay decided now was the time to do what it tried to do all those years ago, and migrate the few remaining Half.com sellers to the mother ship.
“We would like to thank you for your support of Half.com – some of you have been with us since we launched in 1999,” eBay said in a letter to users. “We have enjoyed being part of your selling journey and wish you ongoing success. For all of your future marketplace needs, visit the eBay Seller Center to learn how to grow your business on eBay.”
In a list of Frequently Asked Questions, the company said Half.com traffic will redirect to eBay.com on Sept. 1, but that returns and refunds will continue to be processed until Oct. 31. Users will still be able to access their Half.com account information until Nov. 30, which is also the final day that customer service will be available.
Why the change? “We believe we can provide a greater selling opportunity for our selling community, and a better shopping experience for our buyers, by focusing on the core eBay.com platform.”
It’s been clear for some time that eBay had grown impatient with its lingering Half.com user base. Hoping to wean them off Half.com last year, eBay dramatically marked up its commission fees for media sellers in December. Sellers started seeing hikes as huge as 200% (for sales over $500) in fees.
Half.com was launched in 1999 by Josh Kopelman, and was sold to eBay a year later for $350 million. The site developed a fan base thanks to its ease of using the item’s UPC code to help list it, and then listing a set price that remained indefinitely on the site until it was sold.
During the Internet frenzy of the early 2000s, Half.com made headlines by offering the town of Halfway, Ore., $73,000 to change its name to Half.com, Ore., for a year. It took that bet. But that was a different time – an age when most audiences still bought recorded media in stores, or on then-new sites like eBay and Half.com.