We’ve Seen Active Buyers Consistently Grow, Says eBay CEO

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“The most important thing that we look at is the underlying health of the marketplace,” says eBay CEO Devin Wenig. “For me, that really comes down to three things. It’s how many people are shopping with us? How many people are selling with us? And how much inventory is in the marketplace? What’s on the shelves if you will. All three of those have never been higher. We’ve seen active buyers consistently grow, we added two million last quarter.”

Devin Wenig, CEO of eBay, discusses their strong Q2 earnings announcement and growth going forward. Wenig also took the opportunity to slam the internet sales tax movement, saying the “internet sales tax is a regressive tax on small business,” in an interview on CNBC:

We’ve Seen Active Buyers Consistently Grow

The most important thing that we look at is the underlying health of the marketplace. For me, that really comes down to three things. It’s how many people are shopping with us? How many people are selling with us? And how much inventory is in the marketplace? What’s on the shelves if you will. All three of those have never been higher. We’ve seen active buyers consistently grow, we added two million last quarter. We continue to see growth in business sellers and inventory. If you look in our history every time those numbers grow GMV (gross merchandise value) grows. 

What we’re facing right now is a couple of things and GMV can move up or down in the 90 day period. We are in the middle of a rollout of internet sales tax, which we know is making an impact, particularly on our US business. We’re also seeing the withdrawal of some of the marketing spend that we did last year, which was part of the plan. We said we would do that this year and we have a line of sight to it, and it’s explainable. So we’re not that concerned about GMV being soft in the short run. What we see is a healthy marketplace and we know when those metrics grow GMV follows, as it has in every year in our past 24 years.

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We’ve raised guidance now twice in the last two quarters. We don’t give GMV guidance. We give revenue guidance and earnings guidance. We started the year saying this year was about growing the underlying marketplace metrics and let’s get the two real growth priorities, advertising, and payments, going. And half of the way in I’d say I’m pleased but not satisfied. I’d say we’ve made a lot of progress against those priorities, although we still have a long way to go. But it’s given us the confidence to raise our forecast in Q1 and we raised it again yesterday. So that’s a good start, a good first half.

Internet Sales Tax Is a Regressive Tax On Small Business

At the beginning of the year, there were no states that had enacted a marketplace collection of sales tax. Now we have nine and there are 30 that have declared and 30 will be in place by the end of this year. Obviously, when a state declares an internet sales tax we must collect on behalf of the sellers. So we have a forward view as to how many states will enact that tax and where it will be in place by the end of the year. It will be 30 and it will cover the majority of our sales in the US and the fourth quarter of this year will be the peak. 

The impact of internet sales tax will make a bigger impact before it wanes. It’ll wane as we lap out of it next year. I’ll just take the opportunity to say I think it’s a bad policy. We’ve been advocating on behalf of small businesses for years that an internet sales tax is a regressive tax on small business and that is exactly what we’re seeing.

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We’ve Seen Active Buyers Consistently Grow, Says eBay CEO Devin Wenig

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