eBay Going Global: International Revenues Rule

First of all, I must admit that I’m a year off on predicting when eBay’s international revenues would surpass domestic revenues. I had predicted 2006. I underestimated how quickly eBay’s domestic revenues would continue to grow — and for the past year they kept growing at a fairly decent pace (though financial analysts might disagree).

But international revenues have grown at a faster pace — and this is despite eBay’s comical missteps in China.

So here we have it:

ebay US vs international revenues

I’m a little surprised that none of the media I’ve read so far have picked up on this financial benchmark. It is significant.

Now where does eBay go from here? For starters, I have to believe that eBay is planning to enter Russia and the sooner the better. But even more important, I would like to see eBay seeding a number of emerging markets with localized Web sites — such as Ukraine and Turkey. These markets may take five years to begin really paying off — but then the UK and Germany were not overnight successes either.

India is already an important market for eBay — but infrastructure and Internet access are developing more slowly than in China.

And then there is Japan — the market that eBay ceded to Yahoo! years ago. eBay now offers Kijiji for Japan, which is something of a start in terms of readdressing this market. But the big question remains: Can eBay be a leader in Asia without leading in Japan?

Which brings me back to China. Not much was said in eBay’s Q2 call about China. eBay is far from alone in learning the hard way in this market. I read that eBay China is going to refocus on the small business market — which is really where the money is in the auction business right now, and where eBay’s competition has been focused from the beginning. I do see an opportunity for eBay to help small businesses facilitate international trade within Asia as well as outside of Asia.

For now, it’s simply important to recognize that, revenue-wise, eBay is now more of an international company than a US company. This is an exciting achievement.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.