FORTUNE -- eBay CEO John Donahoe today appeared on stage at Fortune BrainstormTech alongside Airbnb founder Brian Chesky, to discuss how the two have become sounding boards for one another. It was a very candid conversation, until Donahoe was asked why eBay hasn't offered to buy Airbnb.
"We can't afford it," Donahoe said.
Really? As of last check, eBay (EBAY) had more than $9 billion in cash and short-term investments. Not to mention a market cap in excess of $67 billion. Airbnb may be one of the fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley, but it's still nowhere near those levels.
So what's really going on? Is it possible that the two companies actually are discussing some sort of deal, or that Donahoe wants to do so in the future. After all, it does make sense for the leading stuff marketplace to buy the leading places marketplace. Maybe that's why Donahoe backed off an earlier notion to add Chesky to the eBay board of directors ...
To be clear, I have no inside info suggesting that such a move is afoot. But I do know that Donahoe didn't want to honestly answer the question.
For the past year, the two leaders have been meeting regularly to share ideas and to offer advice on everything from how to be more innovative to how to hire a CFO. Chesky said the reason the relationship works so well is that neither one of them has a stake in the other executive's company.
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eBay (EBAY) today announced plans to significantly expand the reach of its PayPal unit, by agreeing to acquire a company that lets users make payments by simply entering their mobile phone number. The $240 million cash deal is for Zong, a Silicon Valley company that raised $27.5 million in venture capital after spinning out of Switzerland's EchoVox in early 2010.
One MOREDan Primack - Jul 7, 2011 11:52 AM ET
Meg Whitman will become the latest Silicon Valley star to draw a paycheck from VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as first reported earlier today by Fortune's Pattie Sellers. But the former eBay boss wasn't always the darling of those based at 2750 Sand Hill Road.
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