Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos called out eBay in a letter to shareholders, with a "my site's better than your site" description of how the two marketplaces serve third-party sellers.
It's a stunning development for a leader who has always taken a "heads down focused" approach to building his business, and one that must have taken eBay's leadership by surprise.
Bezos began his annual missive by pointing out the incredible growth of sales on Amazon by third-party sellers - "Third-party sellers are kicking our first party butt. Badly," he wrote.
While first-party sales (the sale of inventory Amazon itself sells) grew 25% compounded annually since 1999, third-party sales (items sold by merchants on the platform) grew 52%, he explained.
That compares to eBay's compound growth rate of 20% in the same period, according to Bezos's calculations - $160 billion for Amazon third-party sales in 2018, compared to $95 billion for eBay.
"While I appreciate the ink dedicated to @ebay from the ceo of the company not focused on competition, think I'll dedicate my letter to customers, purpose and strategy. We don't compete with our sellers. We don't bundle endless services to create barriers to competition."
That was a reference to Amazon's long held stance that it didn't focus on competition, but rather, remained "obsessed" with serving customers. (Be sure to read the replies to Wenig's tweet.)
In Jeff Bezos's letter to Amazon shareholders, he addressed the questions, "Why did independent sellers do so much better selling on Amazon than they did on eBay? And why were independent sellers able to grow so much faster than Amazon's own highly organized first-party sales organization?
Interestingly, he said Amazon invested in offering merchants the "very best selling tools" it could imagine and build. And particularly important to helping sellers: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and the Prime membership program.
It's out-of-character for Amazon's founder to specifically call out a rival by name, indicating this is not the same Jeff Bezos of Amazon's early years. The CEO has found his company in the spotlight politically, and his personal life has also been under the microscope as of late.
Today's release of the Amazon shareholder letter
calls into question whether Bezos really did ignore competitors all those years, but makes it clear he's paying attention now, in a rather self-congratulatory manner.