Here we go again, eBay
This would normally be great news for a company like eBay, which is seeing its domestic auction business weaken. Overseas expansion has been a big part of the growth recipe at eBay, along with its expanding portfolio of verbs like PayPal and Skype.
However, it's easy to dismiss eBay's chances here. I don't need to pull out a map to know that Thailand is in Asia. Every company has an Achilles' heel; for eBay, it just happens to be nearly every time that heel lands awkwardly on Asian soil.
Not exactly a beast in the East
Five years ago, eBay pulled out of Japan, realizing that Yahoo! Japan -- a partnership between Yahoo!
Too many companies assume that porting stateside success into a new country will be a cakewalk. Then they slip on the frosting and resort to a messy retreat. Even the mighty Google
So why did eBay think it would be any different when it showed up late in China a few years later? eBay had a Chinese partner this time, but it wasn't the right one. With Alibaba's Taobao site entrenched as the local favorite, eBay faced another uphill climb. A familiar enemy also returned; Yahoo! paid $1 billion for a 40% stake in China's Alibaba two years ago.
Learning from its mistakes -- and Yahoo!'s successes -- eBay has realized that strong local partnerships are often at the root of success in the Far East. It recently teamed up with TOM Online
Naspers to the rescue
eBay's new site will launch as a partnership between eBay and Thailand's popular online portal, Sanook.com. Sanook isn't exactly homegrown. It's actually a subsidiary of South Africa's Naspers
Naspers has been a shrewd Asian investor in the past, despite its Cape Town, South Africa, base. It bought an early stake in China's Tencent, the company behind the QQ.com instant messaging platform. How significant is it to own a stake in the most popular IM platform within the world's most populous country? Alexa.com has QQ.com ranked as the world's 10th most visited website, trailing only Baidu.com in China.
If you've never heard of QQ, Tencent, or Naspers -- but think you know everything about eBay -- keep in mind that Alexa ranks eBay 17th, drawing less of a global audience than QQ.com.
Sanook itself is no slouch. It's the second most popular site in Thailand according to Alexa, trailing only Google's Thai-based search engine. There are 16 million Internet users in Thailand, according to IDC. The online migration is supposed to grow at a meaty 25% annualized clip in the country over the next few years.
So this is where the market has it all wrong. It completely blew off the news of this deal. Shares of both eBay and Naspers were trading lower on the news. Sure, both companies are spread out across various different geographical ventures, but this is a win-win scenario.
eBay is entering a new Asian market, but it's doing so the right way. Naspers is making a great move to get its story out to Western investors. Even if the amount of the e-commerce revenue-sharing deal proves minimal, this kind of deal needs to be applauded, not ignored.
eBay, TOM Online, and Yahoo! have been Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter selections over the years. Baidu is a Rule Breakers stock pick. Read all of the original recommendations with a free 30-day trial subscription to the newsletter of your choice.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a satisfied eBay user with 171 positive feedback ratings to show for it. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.