Time To Get Out Of eBay ($EBAY)

By: ispeculatornew
Date posted: 09.15.2014 (3:00 am) | Write a Comment  (0 Comments)

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$ebayI’ve written a decent amount about eBay (EBAY) over the years and have generally been a believer. Today, as I take a new look at things, I’m not as convinced. Why? There area few reasons that I’ll get into. But the one thing that seems apparent is that the current web ecosystem plays ($AAPL, $GOOG, $FB, $AMZN, $MSFT) are now very much ready to take on eBay and I don’t think the company has been able to properly prepare itself. It’s not impossible to survive in such a context (Netflix ($NFLX) and Twitter ($TWTR) are 2 great examples but I feel like eBAY is about to run out of time on that front.

Turns Out Carl Icahn Was Right.. But Maybe Too Late

A few months ago, Carl Icahn waged a very public war with eBay’s board, arguing that they were not doing their job and among other things, should spin out Paypal. Even at the time, I had argued that he was right but I’m believing that more and more. The company is reportedly still considering the move but at some point it will be too late. The problem isn’t so much about having both an auction store and the leading internet payment site in the same company. The issue is that Paypal didn’t get the attention it deserved. I’ve personally said for years that I was valuing eBay as a payments company because that was where the growth and the future was.

So what did Paypal need to do? It needed to quickly build a customer and offline business base that were very active, to support developers (what % of apps that you use try to get you to pay through Paypal?), etc. On those fronts, Paypal has made very little progress.

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What Just Changed?

For years, Google has been trying to build a payments solution, Facebook has built “Facebook credits” while Amazon’s “Payments” has slowly but surely continued to gain ground. But what changed was Apple’s recent “Apple Pay” announcement.

Not only does that confirm how serious Apple is taking “Payments” but it will force competing players to up their game VERY quickly because you can bet that Apple will become a major player in the payments space. Apple Pay will also be used for online payments in apps, websites, etc. That is very serious competition for eBay’s Paypal and you can bet that Amazon, Google and Facebook will react to this news very quickly.

The Game Is Not Lost… YET

Of course, Apple only offers payments to its customer base leaving a majority of users unsupported. It is likely that at least one more player will emerge in this space and eBay could certainly compete. I don’t think its chances are good compared to a few years ago when it was by far the dominant payment player. Paypal has around 150 million active users and Apple will almost reach of that number when its new operating system ships next month:

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credit Statista

 

Apple has also signed up all 3 major credit card issuers as partners, will have hundreds of thousands of retail points from the start, etc. Paypal was apparently pushing to be part of Apple’s payments effort but that has clearly failed.

And again… eBay is not so focused on Paypal. Instead last week it announced:

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An Ad Network?!?!? To compete with Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and others in an ultra-competitive business where eBay has little to no competitive advantage? I don’t think I need to argue this one. Yes eBay knows a lot about what its users like to shop for… but an ad network??? It’s even worse than the focus on same day shipping. eBay is not a technology company or an ad specialist.. so where does this make sense? Why not focus on the area where the company makes most of its money and is being targeted by the world’s leading ecosystems?

Disclosure: Long eBay (EBAY).. but not for long

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