We're two months away from eBay's
Things may be humming along relatively well at some of the company's appendages, like PayPal and Skype, but the namesake site is a mess.
Folks have been complaining about the flagship auction site for years. I've been covering eBay since the 1990s, and it's rare to put out an article and not have a faction of disgruntled sellers -- or ex-Power Sellers -- chime in with complaints.
Scorched earth has never been much of a problem at eBay. If it lost a frustrated quilt maker in Des Moines, it would pick up a baseball card trader in Austin and a CD reseller in Munich. Growth was on cruise control, despite the potholes.
It's a different world these days:
- eBay's marketplace revenue fell by a sharp 16% this past quarter, during the same holiday quarter that found Amazon.com's
- Region-specific sites like South Korea's Gmarket
(NASDAQ:GMKT), Latin America's MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI), and China's Taobao are growing in their own markets, just as eBay can't grow despite its overseas push.
- Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman has gone Schwarzenegger on us, aspiring to be the next governor of California.
The last point may appear immaterial. Many of the changes that alienated sellers were initiated toward the end of her tenure. However, it will give frustrated shareholders another reason to ponder how the stock has been decimated since Whitman stepped down at the end of March last year. Shares of eBay have fallen by nearly 60% since then. Yes, it's been a brutal market since then, but not that brutal.
One has to wonder how badly the company's stock would have been roughed up if not for growing subsidiaries like PayPal, Gmarket, and its growing collection of free online classifieds sites. This only makes one wonder how quickly eBay can bounce back if it simply restores eBay to some semblance of its former glory.
Is it possible, though? Sellers have found new ways to reach audiences through niche-specific auction sites or simply reaching out to buyers directly through cost-effective paid search campaigns on Google
So here's where I hand over this column to you. I'm handing you the keys to eBay. What would you do to bring it back from the brink of irrelevance? Post your thoughts in the comment box below. Hurry, though. There's an angry mob gathering two months early.
More items in the bid basket:
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MercadoLibre is a Motley Fool Global Gains selection. eBay is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google and Gmarket are Motley Fool Rule Breakers selections. eBay and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of these Foolish services free for 30 days to see how we can help you beat the market.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a satisfied eBay user with 177 positive feedbacks 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.