(eBay acquisitions updated with Zong deal.)
NEW YORK (
has been gobbling up new assets in 2011, as it aggressively makes purchases that fit its new local strategy.
The e-commerce giant said in February that it is eying deals that more closely link the online and brick-and-mortar shopping experience, expand its global footprint and utilize its highly-successful PayPal unit.
Hyper-local has become a common phrase for eBay, as it targets firms that can connect shoppers to local merchants.
eBay's acquisition strategy comes partially out of necessity, as the company continues to work to turn around its marketplace division. Over the past year, eBay has attempted to bolster sales at its marketplace by cutting upfront fees it charges sellers, revamping its site and expanding categories like fashion.
eBay has, to a significant degree, relied on the success of PayPal to drive growth, and management has predicted that PayPal's revenue will surpass that of its marketplace business over the next several years. Its recent acquisitions present an opportunity for PayPal to reach an even broader market and attract new users.
eBay is building upon last year's acquisitions of
, a local shopping engine; Germany's fashion shopping site,
, a bar code scanning application. Already in 2011, the company has announced four acquisitions.
It's expected that eBay will make other strategic buys this year and that Wall Street will wait to see how much these assets affect the bottom line.
Read on for a look at eBay's acquisitions in 2011 and how they fit into the company's overall strategy.
eBay announced on July 7 that it is purchasing billing company, Zong, for about $240 million in cash.
Zong is connected to 250 mobile carriers around the world, providing a system for making payments through cell phones.
Zong users click to purchase an item on their mobile phone, TV or gaming console and are then prompted to enter their mobile phone number. A text message is sent to the phone and the buyer replies to the message to confirm the account and billing to their monthly cell phone account. This eliminates the need to enter credit card information.
The deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter, should provide a boost eBay's PayPal unit.
"With Zong, PayPal will have greater ability to offer consumers even more choices in how they want to pay - virtually anytime, anywhere," eBay said.
"We believe the deal beefs up PayPal's offering of mobile services globally and should provide greater traction in markets that are mobile dominated," Janney Capital Markets analyst Shawn Milne wrote in a note.
eBay agreed to acquire Magento, an open-soruce e-commerce platform, on June 6. The company previously held a minority stake in Magento.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"Technology-driven innovation is blurring the lines between online and offline commerce, changing the way consumers shop, and enabling retailers of all sizes to benefit from the latest innovations from the developer community," said eBay CEO John Donahoe. "The feedback we've heard from external developers has been clear -- they don't just want payments or an e-commerce site; they want access to a full set of commerce capabilities to build complete shopping experiences for merchants. We believe the acquisition of Magento and creation of our X.Commerce group will enable us to meet developers' needs and drive global commerce innovation for retailers and consumers."
X.Commerce, eBay's newly created integrated open commerce platform group, is focused on leveraging the company's assets and partner technologies to build a developer community as a resource for merchants and retailers.
eBay does foresee the acquisition of Magento to have a material impact on its financial guidance it issued in April.
eBay announced the acquisition of the non-profit,
, on May 2.
MissionFish has been powering eBay's Giving Works program, which allows sellers to donate items and proceeds from sales to charitable causes and enables buyers to donate to these causes as well. The company, which is a collaboration between Points of Light Institute, Pew Charitable Trusts and The Case Foundation, screens non-profits that are interested in becoming members and processes the donations.
eBay has been working with MissionFish for eight years and the partnership has raised nearly $250 million for U.S. and UK charities.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
eBay's PayPal division said on its blog on April 29 that it is purchasing the mobile startup,
Fig Card makes USB sticks merchants can use to accept payments from smartphones. The USB stick attaches to the retailer's cash register, which allows it to receive payments from smartphones on which the FigCard app has been downloaded.
"We loved their approach to point-of-sale, particularly because it was driven by the same vision that we have at PayPal" in the future, transactions can be as smart as a computer and not as dumb as paper. We won't need our physical wallets. We'll be able to pay any way we want, from any device, anywhere in the world with both flexibility and privacy," said Peter Chu, PayPal Mobile's senior director.
This acquisition fits eBay's strategy of turning PayPal into an electronic wallet.
eBay took its hyper-local initiative to a new level with the acquisition of
Where, a mobile advertising provider, creates applications that provide local listings for restaurants, stores and other services. It also makes recommendations and offers deals to users based upon their location. The company, which was founded in 2004, operates a location-based ad network that lets advertisers send out mobile ads to people near their stores.
Currently, Where offers information and deals from 120,000 businesses to more than 50 million mobile phone users every day. This could provide eBay the opportunity to provide Groupon-like deals to users in the future.
In the past two years, Where's revenues have grown 30% quarter-over-quarter.
"By giving people hyper-local, relevant retailer information and deals on their mobile phones, we see a huge opportunity for local merchants to reach more buyers, and for consumers to get more choice and value when they shop," eBay said on its PayPal blog.
eBay did not reveal the financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter.
The e-commerce giant will integrate PayPal into the Where application to allow users to not only receive deals, but purchase them immediately using their PayPal accounts.
eBay upped its stake in
, a Turkish online marketplace, in April, making it the majority shareholder of the company.
GittiGidiyor, which is essentially a clone of eBay for the Turkish market, launched in 2001 and currently touts more than 6.4 million registered users.
eBay previously held a minority stake in the company, which it acquired in 2007. With the new investment, eBay now owns about 93% of the outstanding shares of GittiGidiyor. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
eBay is looking at Turkey as a formidable emerging market, as the country is the world's 12th largest market for Internet usage and has a penetration rate of 45%.
With the recent purchase of
for $2.4 billione, Bay made its largest acquisition since that of
GSI is the parent of private sale retailer Rue La La and ShopRunner, a members-only shopping service. It has also helped manage Web sites and online marketing campaigns for companies like
Toys 'R' Us
, with services such as payment processing, order management and customer service.
eBay plans to shed both Rue La La and ShopRunner by putting them into a holding company that will be run by GSI's CEO Michael Rubin.
Through GSI, eBay gains the ability to expand its network of sellers to larger, more formidable retailers, putting it in closer competition with rival
GSI could allow eBay to manage orders for these larger retailers, a process the company has typically left up to its sellers up until this point.
This could also provide yet another platform for its PayPal business.
In 2010, GSI Commerce reported a loss of $36.5 million on revenue of $1.36 billion.
eBay purchased a 20% stake in
, a Vietnamese online retailer.
The deal reportedly cost eBay $2 million.
In 2008, eBay and Peacesoft formed a partnership that allows Peacesoft to manage eBay's business in Vietnam through co-branded online auction site chodientu.com.
Peacesoft will use the deal to strengthen its financial position and to expand its online business in the country. eBay and Peacesoft will work together to grow chodientu.com's online payment, advertising and price viewing options, and connect the site to other markets in the region.
--Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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