Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
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by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Apr 18 2019 16:07:07

eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay CEO Devin Wenig told shareholders today that 2018 was a transition year for the company, and he said in his annual letter that eBay's purpose and policies are what help retain loyal sellers. Millions of small businesses and consumers sell only on eBay, he said. 

The CEO reaffirmed his commitment to "transform" eBay despite the fact that the marketplace saw some "challenges with the pace of adoption of some of our transformational changes" in the second half of 2018, accompanied by a slowing pace of growth. "It would be an enormous strategic mistake to not transform the business," he said.

A big part of that transformation is moving to a managed marketplace. What does that mean for sellers?

"Managing our marketplace means building a foundational product catalog, increasingly playing a role in package delivery and returns, and managing the end-to-end payment process," he told shareholders.

The CEO has previously discussed his efforts to build a catalog and launch managed payments, but less clear is what he means by his plans for eBay to take a bigger role in package delivery and returns, though eBay has quietly launched a fulfillment service.

And while Wenig didn't mention Amazon by name, he expanded on his Twitter response to Jeff Bezos who had compared Amazon favorably to eBay in his letter to Amazon shareholders.

Wenig wrote in today's letter:

"Unlike other digital commerce businesses, we don't compete with our sellers and we refuse to compromise the shopping experience to push "house brands" and irrelevant posts.

"Millions of small businesses and consumers sell only on eBay. I believe it's because of our purpose and policies - this matters to customers. 

"We fundamentally object to unnaturally bundling services to overcome barriers to competition. At eBay, we empower third party sellers to thrive, which actually serves consumers seeking value and selection. We are a benchmark on this. We always have been."

Wenig talked about the level playing field that eBay provides sellers. "We are innovating, investing and transforming the business not only to win in the marketplace, but also to level the playing field for tens of millions of people who operate on our platform and depend on it for their livelihood." 

But he went on to highlight programs that do the opposite: eBay Deals; eBay Authenticate; and eBay Retail Revival; all of which are open to only a tiny percentage of eBay sellers. Some have also pointed to eBay's specialized services that help Chinese companies compete against domestic sellers in the US and elsewhere.

Among his accomplishments since taking over the company in 2015, he described the following:

"In the three years after completing the spin-off of PayPal, we have added 20 million new buyers to a total of 179 million and grew our inventory to 1.2 billion listings from 850 million. In those three years, the volume of transactions on our platform - gross merchandise volume (GMV) - increased to $95 billion, up 16% from $82 billion. Over the same period, we have returned $11.3 billion to shareholders, which is 140 percent of our free cash flow."

He also detailed some of the initiatives of 2018, putting them in the following buckets: Platform Innovation; Payments Debut; Geographic Expansion; StubHub & Classifieds; Capital Allocation; and Employee Experience, Diversity and Inclusion.

And Wenig talked about what's ahead for this year, including what's in it for shareholders: advertising revenue (a $1 billion opportunity) and payments revenue (a $2 billion opportunity), both of which, of course, come in the form of seller fees.

Among the gains for sellers in 2019: "Sellers will gain access to more data and tools, with enhanced protections," he said. The latter may be protections that eBay could offer to sellers who opt in to managed payments, which will eventually become mandatory for all sellers.

Some parts of Wenig's letter left us wondering what he had intended to convey, such as when he told shareholders that last year "was a year of reckoning for many consumer tech companies, with a breakout of societal issues around privacy, trust, trade and immigration." And when he said, "Our marketplace is growing, resilient and steadily profitable in a hypercompetitive industry, and not many can claim this. It would be easy to rest on those accomplishments,..."

It would actually be impossible for Wenig to rest given the interference by activist investors who have already forced eBay's board of directors to make changes - including giving them some seats on its board and forcing eBay to review its portfolio.

We published the fulltext of Wenig's letter on EcommerceBytes Newsflash, take a look, and let us know what you think.



Comments (56) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: notfunanymore This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 16:42:40 2019

Delusional. All he and everyone else who’s had his position chase Amazon. It’s laughable.  

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Thu Apr 18 17:18:53 2019

Delusional is right.  I really do wonder what percentage of seller accounts will just disappear when Derpy comes demanding bank access.  If you're selling one or two items per month, it's hardly worth the bother.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Apr 18 17:29:18 2019

@RKTOYS

"I really do wonder what percentage of seller accounts will just disappear when Derpy comes demanding bank access."

Hobby sellers many

Full time sellers not so many

When the time comes I will have no choice but to do what eBay wants

But in 2 more years I'll be collecting Social Security so I won't be as dependent on eBay as I am now.

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: Freeeeeeeee This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 17:48:14 2019

Delusional

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Thu Apr 18 19:11:52 2019

NONE of these corporate a$$holes "Get It".

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 20:10:20 2019

"Our marketplace is growing, resilient and steadily profitable in a hypercompetitive industry,..."

IF that were true, then why does it require "transformation"?

Again.  And again.  And again.

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 21:14:48 2019

Wenig has a lot of nerve.

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by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 22:42:30 2019

179M buyers....how much of that number is multiple counts? 10%? 25%?
He's a worthless politician who can't be straight.
The master of polysyllabic words who leaves you bug eyed and confused.

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 22:50:39 2019

The entire letter is complete fabrication.

Its the old misdirection "trick", since not one part of any of it is real.

In politics its called "getting ahead of X", X being what ever bad thing is coming NEXT.

"It would be an enormous strategic mistake to not transform the business,"

From what to what? From "just a venue" to a "managed marketplace? If so dont just tell us - tell the SEC in your next filing. Tell the courts that you lied to, tell your sellers - the ones you defraud.

"Managing our marketplace means building a foundational product catalog" - well then why didnt you do it? You had/have 5 billion sitting offshore - should it be spent on your private jet or licensing Icecat or a UPC database (upcdatabase.org).

" increasingly playing a role in package delivery and returns" ... ok well Amazon owns planes and trucks, and you eBay own .... what? You dont deliver anything and as it is your "returns program" is just one big fraud from beginning to end - are you planing on eliminating "no returns"? what other evil horror show do you have planned?

"and managing the end-to-end payment process" ... do you think we arent smart enough to know what this means? do you think anyone with a brain cant figure this out? Its about A) making money by keeping the float and B) using it as a weapon to fight sellers .... You spent years telling anyone that breathes how great and awesome Paypal is/was - so now its junk? If it was so great - you wouldnt need to be "in payments" ... except for the above 2 things.

"He also detailed some of the initiatives of 2018, putting them in the following buckets: Platform Innovation; Payments Debut; Geographic Expansion; StubHub & Classifieds; Capital Allocation; and Employee Experience, Diversity and Inclusion."

Platform Innovation? - your platform is stuck in 1998
Payments Debut ? - its about theft and control - its not like you chose Apple or Google
StubHub & Classifieds - its only "a thing" cause you are being forced to divest it - otherwise you would still be using it to prop up your failing marketplaces
Capital Allocation - you mean you measly stock payout? please.
Employee Experience - alot of them left - who are you "allocating"?? Uncle Griff? FIRE 1/2 of them to start with - it will help sellers and help your bottom line.
Diversity and Inclusion - got nothing to do with selling online - stop reading Oprahs blog and get back to business 101.

"Sellers will gain access to more data and tools, with enhanced protections" 1) theres NO SUCH THING as seller protection - please stop spreading lies. 2) if you really cared about sellers - you would have had the tools ready BEFORE you made the unwanted changes - not months after - its just another LIE.

"last year "was a year of reckoning for many consumer tech companies, with a breakout of societal issues around privacy, trust, trade and immigration."

NONE of those things have anything to do with selling on eBay. Whether you are pro or anti illegal immigration - SNAD returns are still mostly fake and sellers are always still at fault. As far as trust - NO ONE trusts eBay, stop dreaming.

"eBay Deals; eBay Authenticate; and eBay Retail Revival; all of which are open to only a tiny percentage of eBay sellers. " Correct - %99.9 of all sellers get nothing out of ANY of those programs - they are all just money grabs - and we know it.

Millions of small businesses and consumers sell only on eBay. I believe it's because of our purpose and policies " .... no its DESPITE your policies niot because of them.

"We don't compete with our sellers" ... except thats NOT what you said about the Chinese Sellers - who even now get special treatments, its not for the big guys who post 1000s of listings (aka VIM Innovations), its not the brands whom get special treatements like erasing negatives, doing their own CS, and your scrubbing of thier feedbacks ....

In short - he was a liar, he is a liar, and beyond fee increases, nothing will change.

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 18 23:19:16 2019

"The master of polysyllabic words who leaves you bug eyed and confused."  Amen!

Who writes this cr@p for him??

He can't dazzle us with brilliance so he baffles us with BS

"managed marketplace" . How much more MANAGEMENT can sellers stand? If ebay does any more "managing", I am going to demand a paycheck and a w-2!!  LOL, and I don't come cheap ;)

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 05:46:34 2019

EBAY CATALOG?  Lord have mercy !   The CATALOG is going to be the DEATH of eBay... not it's SAVIOR.   It is RIDDLED with inaccuracies and does NOBODY any good.  Not Buyers and certainly NOT SELLERS.
Right now for EBAY to keep its head in the sand and PROMOTE that FUBAR idea is Just as if Coca-Cola had introduced NEW Coke, seen their SALES plummet for months on end, and then YEARS into that plummet ardently REFUSED to do what their CUSTOMERS wanted and KILL "New Coke".
Coca-Cola didn't ROLL OVER instantly, but they DID pretty quickly realize that their Marketing GENIUS MOVE to try to COPY the sugar-water taste of PEPSI had come a cropper.

Honestly, of the FEW TIMES I've gone INTO Amazon and BOUGHT anything the AMAZON Catalog system is among my LEAST FAVORITE things about the experience.

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: plcombs This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 06:45:31 2019

He also said "we returned $4.5 billion of capital to shareholders through the repurchase of common stock," ...maybe the silliest comment he made.

eBay returned nothing, they bought stock, they didn't enable investors to sell their own shares.  eBay stock can be sold anytime, without any expenditure by eBay to make it happen.  

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 07:57:48 2019

This is laughable:  eBay's purpose and policies are what help retain loyal sellers.

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Fri Apr 19 07:58:06 2019

That is a weird metric to tout.  Typically it would be dividends paid.  That's a more sellable number and stands more on its own than shares repurchased (you'd have to know the cost basis to determine gain or loss).

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

This user has validated their user name. by: NoMoreEbay

Fri Apr 19 10:36:32 2019

So DW believes that sellers sell on their marketplace because of ebay's ''policies.''

One of if not the most outrageous statement to ever come out of a CEO's mouth.

''Unlike other digital commerce businesses, we don't compete with our sellers''

Is that not counting the thousands of offsite ads, the Chinese packet agreement, the pay to play promoted listings, the throttled listings, the 'select few' in various programs.

I wonder, does the board really buy this delusional crap. Elliott Management sure doesn't.  

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: fAlken This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Apr 19 10:41:50 2019

Looks like I'll finally be closing my store on ebay after more than a decade of terrible changes.  I'm sick of this company now.  Why ANYONE would go out to social media and advertise their items to bring people into ebay is beyond me.  Why don't they direct that traffic to their commission free fully controlled by the seller websites?  Ebay's CEO has no idea what he's doing, this company is circling the drain as it is.  When they stoop to the level of enforcing a GTC policy clearly to catch sellers slipping so they get automatic relist fee revenue is the epitome of shady business practice, it's only going to get worse from here....

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 11:39:24 2019

Unlike other venues we don't compete with out sellers.

We just hinder them at every turn. Such as:
hiding their listings,
giving them invisible limits on how much money they can make,
giving special information to china sellers who don't have to play by the same rules,
directing views to china and big box retailers,
urging customers to scam sellers and steal from them.


Ebay is full of it, wenig is so full of hot air he should float away, I literally hate that man.



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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 11:42:43 2019

also diversity and inclusion just means hiring more offshore cheap work and calling it hiring minorities lol, its just a buzz word meaning we will hire someone not based on their applicable skills but on the color of their skin.

no thanks ebay


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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 13:02:23 2019



When you sell on ebay, you are locked into an unfair competition with ebay itself,

this guy is a professional liar,

Perminate Link for eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year   eBay CEO Devin Wenig Calls 2018 a Transition Year

by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 19 16:41:54 2019

seems like the delusional idiot likes using the term "a transition year".

every year is a transition year for the moron. maybe the bod will finally wise up and get rid of the pathological liar.

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