EBay CEO Weighs Local-Language Sites in Asia, Eastern Europe

EBay Eyes Expansion
EBay Inc. Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe said the company may expand its online retail efforts to offer local-language portals to shoppers in emerging markets. Photographer: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

EBay Inc. may expand its efforts to offer local-language portals to shoppers in emerging markets beyond an existing Russian site, Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe said in an interview.

The owner of the world’s largest online marketplace will look to Asia, eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East for potential new sites, Donahoe said in Paris. The local sites would give shoppers in those regions access to EBay’s global network of buyers and sellers, along the template of the Russian service, which started operations last year.

“We’ll see more and more of that, where we may take and build a local-language site,” Donahoe, 51, said in the interview. “They’ll never have the scale to have the full footprint,” making a system with local-language access to global EBay users more practical, he added.

Online retailers are looking at new countries and technologies like mobile shopping as competition intensifies in the U.S. and Europe. Rakuten Inc., Japan’s biggest online retailer, is among sites hunting for acquisition targets, especially in Europe, while Amazon.com Inc. last year acquired Spanish site BuyVIP.

Donahoe, two-thirds of his way through a three-year turnaround plan, has bought at least seven businesses in the past year to help revive sales growth and revamp San Jose, California-based EBay’s main commerce site. The company has held up its U.K. business as a model for the results it’s trying to accomplish in the U.S.

PayPal Revenue

The PayPal payment processing unit is driving growth at EBay, with revenue from the division rising 23 percent to $992 million last quarter. It accounted for 39 percent of EBay’s sales that quarter and will eventually be larger than the company’s e-commerce sites, Donahoe has said.

PayPal earlier this year hired Don Kingsborough, the founder of payment provider Blackhawk Network, to lead an expansion into physical stores. Large U.S. retailers will begin “a few pilots” using PayPal for physical transactions this year, Donahoe said today.

EBay has also pushed deeper into mobile services with the acquisitions of Red Laser, Milo and Where.com, positioning itself to benefit from a shift to shopping on smartphones.