eBay is an e-commerce platform, at first only providing customer-to-customer auction services, expanding into business-to-consumer shortly afterwards. In the 2000’s, eBay went on a spending spree that saw it taking ownership of PayPal, Skype and Stubhub, although it has since relinquished ownership of all three businesses.
It is one of the few success stories of the dot-com bubble, which eBay fought through after going public in September 1998. By 2001, it was considered the world’s largest e-commerce website, and a year later it purchased payment service PayPal for $1.5 billion.
In the early 2000s, purchasing items over the web from random strangers was not common. Before eBay and PayPal, scams were frequent and there wasn’t much in the way of assurances that the item would arrive and if it did, that it would match the description provided.
eBay and PayPal provided the necessary arbitration and fraud prevention systems. In eBay’s case, the review system for sellers and buyers prevented enabled both sides to feel secure in their transaction, while PayPal prevented fraud.
PayPal was the first in what would be a great expansion of eBay’s footprint. In the next five years, it spent $1.7 billion on acquisitions for classified advertising platforms, $2.6 billion for Skype and $310 for Stubhub.
This conglomeration of digital assets made eBay a larger company, but by 2010, several investors and division leaders saw eBay’s ownership of Skype, PayPal and other services as detrimental to both parties.
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Add to that Amazon had taken eBay’s title as largest e-commerce platform away and was generating three times as much revenue by 2010, and eBay’s spending spree had lost its luster.
eBay would sell Skype to a private equity group, which would then sell it to Microsoft in 2011. In 2014, eBay announced it would spin-out PayPal, which had become larger than eBay. At the time of writing, PayPal is valued at over five times eBay in market cap.
Since the PayPal split, eBay has been focused on growing advertising revenue and maintaining its base of customers, which are primarily based in the US and UK.
We have collected data and statistics on eBay. Read on below to find out more.
eBay key statistics
- eBay generated $10.2 billion revenue in 2020, a 5.1% increase year-on-year
- Gross merchandising volume on eBay reached $100 billion in 2020
- 159 million people are active on eBay, most are based in the US
- Over 19 million sellers have accounts on eBay
|Launch date||September 1995|
|HQ||San Jose, California|
|People||Jamie Iannone (president, CEO), Thomas J Tierney (chairman), Pierre Omidyar (founder)|
|Business type||Public (NASDAQ: EBAY)|
eBay annual revenue
Note: In Q3 2014, eBay started reporting revenue separate from PayPal
Note: Values are net income
Source: Company data
|Year||Gross merchandising volume|
Source: Company data
Sources: Company data, eBay forums
eBay sellers by country
|Country||Percentage of sellers|
Note: Data from June 2020
Source: Company data
How many items are shipped for free on eBay?
eBay said in 2019 that 71% of items are shipped for free. It incentives sellers to post for free on the app, claiming it attracts buyers and boosts the items visibility
What percentage of items are sold new?
80% of items on eBay are sold as new. The percentage of new items has increased over the years, as eBay switched from auctions to a more holistic marketplace
What percentage of items sell?
About 40% of items manage to sell on eBay, with used items selling at a higher rate than new
What percentage of eBay sales are on mobile?
61% of eBay’s total sales are made through a mobile device
How many eBay sellers are based in the US?
Seven million of eBay’s 25 million sellers are based in the US, or about 28%
Is eBay available in China?
No, eBay is not available, however 12% of eBay sellers are based in Mainland China
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