Back in 2006, if you wanted to virtually send money to a friend or let your website accept payments in the U.S., you were almost certainly using PayPal. The EBay unit had over 100 million accounts and an eight-year lead on Google, which was just entering the payments space with a service called Checkout.
As chronicled in the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Google has yet to find its way. Even the C-suite at PayPal expected more from the search giant. Dana Stalder, a PayPal vice president of product, sales, marketing and technology from 2004 to 2008, said his team stepped up its global efforts as a direct response to moves by Google.
"We took the threat very seriously," said Stalder, now a general partner at venture-capital firm Matrix Partners. "We accelerated international expansion, knowing they would start in the U.S. market."
In October 2006, PayPal expanded to an additional 48 markets, nearly doubling its total. At the time, users of the service could exchange money and pay for auction goods in 17 currencies.
The Google threat never really materialized, even at home in the U.S. PayPal now works in 193 markets, and more than half of its revenue last year came from users overseas.
Going global wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for PayPal. Of the countries and regions the service operates in, users in 110 of them can accept payments, "in some cases with significant restrictions," according to an EBay public filing. People living in the dozens of remaining markets can only send money.
--With assistance from Danielle Kucera