Posted by: Rob Hof on June 23, 2005
Whatever sellers may criticize eBay for, and they always do and always will, they can’t accuse it of standing still. Today, as its annual eBay Live! members conference cranks up in hometown San Jose, the company announced yet another in a string of new places for sellers to find buyers. ProStores, developed from a January acquisition of Kurant, will let sellers—both eBay sellers and others—set up online stores outside the eBay marketplace. That follows a recent launch of a Reseller Marketplace for wholesalers, a passel of investments in classified-ad sites, and the purchase of Rent.com last December. And that’s all in addition to eBay Stores, the company’s own storefronts for its sellers.
Right now, it looks a bit like eBay’s throwing a lot up on the wall and seeing what sticks. But one thing’s clear: eBay has no intention of simply sitting and watching while rivals from Amazon.com and Overstock.com to Yahoo! and (probably) Google eat its lunch. It’s serious about making sure it can play in whatever venue sellers and buyers want to meet.
How soon that can happen is anybody’s guess. eBay CEO Meg Whitman has said that eBay is in investment mode this year, at least, which means that near-term profits may not thrill some investors. “We really are building for the long term,” she told shareholders at eBay’s annual meeting today. “It’s not about this quarter or the next quarter.” She seemed to be implying, in other words, that eBay’s not done yet.