See update to this post below. eBay may breakup the company with the help of outsiders, a move that has been seen as a possibility since January 22nd. Under pressure from activist investors demanding eBay improve its lackluster performance, the company announced today it will explore the sale or spinoff of its assets.
"eBay, with the assistance of external financial advisors, has initiated a strategic review of its asset portfolio, including but not limited to StubHub and eBay Classifieds Group," eBay wrote. The words "not limited to" are important, since it leaves open the possibility eBay could sell off its eBay Marketplaces business.
In its announcement, eBay states, "There can be no assurance that the strategic review being undertaken will result in a sale, spin-off or other business combination involving eBay's assets. eBay does not intend on making further public announcements regarding the strategic review unless and until the Board has approved a course of action requiring disclosure."
EcommerceBytes surveyed sellers
last month about a possible breakup of eBay business units. The issue of whether eBay should sell StubHub or eBay Classifieds seemed to come down to whether the ticket marketplace or classifieds business were contributing revenue or whether they were distractions from the core Marketplaces business.
The survey found that 59% of sellers said eBay should sell StubHub, while 54% of sellers said eBay should sell its classifieds business.
We also asked readers their opinion about potential acquirers of the eBay Marketplaces business in the event eBay was forced to sell it.
Sellers said they would prefer Google over Amazon as a possible acquirer of eBay by a wide margin - 18% and 5%, respectively. But slightly more sellers (20%) would rather see the board take eBay private. See this EcommerceBytes Blog post
for the complete breakdown.
In another concession to activist investors, eBay agreed to add three members to its Board of Directors, including Jesse Cohn of Elliott Management and Matt Murphy of Marvell Technology.
While many sellers blame former CEO John Donahoe for the problems eBay now faces, today's announcement
cements Devin Wenig's legacy as the CEO who failed to turn around the company, or at least failed to do so on his own.
Update 3/1/19: After reading this post, an eBay spokesperson said the sale of the core marketplace business has not been part of the discussion.