One year ago today, I stood on a stage in front of thousands of eBay employees from around the world and sellers from every state in the U.S. It was a day of firsts: eBay’s start of its next chapter after spinning off PayPal, and my first day as CEO of this iconic brand.
Standing there in the heat of a July day in California, I committed to certain key priorities for the coming year.
I said we would position our business for long-term growth and success, for our customers, employees and shareholders. I said we would begin by building a strong foundation to enable the acceleration of the business. And we would do this while remaining authentic to who we are.
To drive this forward, we embarked on a focused strategy to deliver the best choice and the most relevance, underpinned by the most powerful selling platform.
We have made a lot of progress. We are in the midst of an ambitious, multi-year evolution of the technology underpinning eBay’s business. This is allowing us to make significant enhancements to our shopping experience, to enable better discoverability of our vast inventory and incredible deals for consumers. It has also given us the opportunity to deliver new tools and powerful data insights to our sellers to help them scale their businesses.
And we’ve also revitalized our mobile offering. Mobile has long been a competitive differentiator for us. In order to maintain that advantage, we’ve continued to invest and innovate – including the launch of a completely redesigned mobile experience.
In parallel with all of this, we are continuing to expand into new business segments and geographies. And, we’re building a culture and an environment that attracts and retains the best talent, and positions us for success.
We have seen the pace of tech innovation advance significantly -- in artificial intelligence, cloud computing and virtual reality, all of which have the potential to reshape global technology dramatically in the next few years.
We are building eBay to be a vibrant and dynamic global technology leader for years to come, and we are starting to see results.
DELIVERING THE BEST SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
With one billion items for sale, eBay’s inventory is unmatched in scale and uniqueness.
But this vast inventory was historically as much of a challenge as it was a benefit. The ‘listings’ model that was foundational to our business was complicated, and at times overwhelming. No two listings looked the same – even when the items for sale were identical.
Over the past year, we launched an ambitious, multi-year project to provide structure to our inherently unstructured inventory. Our CTO Steve Fisher, who is leading this initiative, recently described how we are evolving our shopping platform to deliver relevant, persistent and personalized experiences for consumers.
We are also investing in artificial intelligence capabilities, including machine learning and predictive modeling, allowing vastly improved personalization and targeting.
We’ve redesigned our core mobile experience and launched a new virtual reality feature on StubHub that allows customers to experience a 360 degree view of their seats before they purchase their tickets. These are important steps, but they are also just the beginning of the innovation that we will bring to shoppers in the coming years.
MAKING SELLING FRICTIONLESS
As part of our technology evolution, we are also providing more tools and insights to our business sellers, helping them to identify opportunities, address inventory gaps and pricing trends, and scale their businesses.
Twenty years ago, consumer selling was the basis of the sharing economy, and we believe there is enormous opportunity to revitalize it for a whole new generation. Later this summer, we will take advantage of the enhancements to our platform to make selling on eBay even simpler.
And we’ll continue to build on relationships with assisted shipping partners like Shyp and our selling service, eBay Valet. Over 100,000 users have now experienced Valet, and we are expanding our drop-off sites to include all 1,600 US FedEx locations.
NEW MARKETS, NEW SEGMENTS
As we ramped up our technology, we also looked beyond eBay for opportunities to fill gaps, and strengthen our portfolio. We’ve been making strategic investments to accelerate our artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.
To this end, we recently acquired Expertmaker, which specializes in providing intelligent solutions powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics – and we announced our intent to acquire SalesPredict, which uses analytics to predict customer buying behavior and sales conversion.
In our Motors vertical, we acquired Cargigi to provide our sellers with the tools they need to streamline and enhance the vehicle selling process.
And we announced our intent to acquire two new companies to further strengthen StubHub --TicketBis and Ticket Utils. These will help expand StubHub’s international footprint and offer sellers new tools to manage their inventory, respectively.
Apart from acquisitions, we added a new category to our marketplace. We are now a new destination to browse collectible, rare and everyday wines based on varietal, region and price point. Since launching in April, our offering is growing strongly. Inventory has grown almost three-fold, with wines from more than 500 different regions and over 14,000 listings.
Throughout the rest of this year, we’ll continue to expand and explore new services and new segments. And we’ll further broaden our marketing efforts to reach new buyers on the social and messaging platforms they most like to use.
BUILDING A GREAT CULTURE
On my first day as CEO, I told employees that I wanted to build our culture to be one they could be proud of, and that positioned us to be a competitive leader into the future. We’ve made significant progress in defining who we are from the inside out, and this is helping to fuel the successful execution of our business strategy.
Inclusion and diversity have always been core to eBay’s cultural values, our purpose and our business success. Taking this commitment to a new level, this year we hired eBay’s first Chief Diversity Officer. We also began offering Parental and Family Care leave for employees in the U.S., improved our Disability and Maternity leave policies and enhanced benefits for employees in select countries outside of the U.S. We’re proud to be one of the most progressive in our industry on family leave.
PREPARING FOR THE NEXT COMMERCE REVOLUTION
Everything we’ve done so far has been about positioning eBay for a future we can see advancing quickly towards us, in which innovations in technology platforms have the power to dramatically reshape the commerce experience.
During this time, we’ve seen artificial intelligence reach an inflection point. This innovation is already beginning to take hold of the messaging space with the arrival of conversational assistants. Artificial intelligence has the potential to bring an era of deep personalization to the commerce space.
We are entering what we call the Age of Everywhere -- the profusion of cloud-connected devices that will bring the Internet to you, globalize the market, and make things faster and more on-demand.
Virtual and augmented reality will be the next platform revolution. This is already prevalent in the gaming world, but it has the potential to be far more disruptive.
These innovations will create enormous opportunity for commerce companies prepared to take advantage of them.
THE FUTURE IN FOCUS
We are effectively executing immediate strategic priorities, while knowing exactly where we are taking this business over the long-term. We have a clear vision for our company, the right strategy to get us there, and a culture that is energized to deliver on our commitments.
We have also sharpened our brand to better express what makes eBay a great technology and ecommerce company. In a world where everybody wants to do everything, there’s one thing that we can do better than anyone else. We can help every person get their version of perfect, no matter what that is.
This article contains forward-looking statements that are based on our current expectations, forecasts and assumptions and involve risks and uncertainties. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the future performance and product initiatives of eBay Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. Our actual results could differ materially from those predicted or implied. More information about factors that could affect our actual results is included under the captions “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, copies of which may be obtained by visiting our Investor Relations website at https://investors.ebayinc.com or the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. All information in this article is as of July 20, 2016. Undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements in this article, which are based on information available to us on the date hereof. We assume no obligation to update such statements.