EBay CEO Devin Wenig rips Amazon's business practices in shareholder letter

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EBay CEO Devin Wenig escalated a public war of words with Amazon on Thursday, criticizing some of its e-commerce rival’s business practices just days after Jeff Bezos took a similar jab at eBay.

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In a letter to shareholders, Wenig defended eBay’s relationship with third-party sellers while ripping Amazon’s practice of selling its own branded products alongside those of its vendors. Wenig also called out Amazon’s subscription “Prime” service, which provides free shipping and discounts to members, alongside other benefits like access to its streaming video and music services.

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“Unlike other digital commerce businesses, we don’t compete with our sellers and we refuse to compromise the shopping experience to push 'house brands' and irrelevant posts,” Wenig wrote. “Millions of small businesses and consumers sell only on eBay. I believe it’s because of our purpose and policies – this matters to customers. We fundamentally object to unnaturally bundling services to overcome barriers to competition.”

The release of eBay’s shareholder letter came days after Bezos jabbed the company and other retail rivals in his own annual message. Bezos argued that third-party sellers “do so much better selling on Amazon than they did on eBay.”

The Amazon CEO said its third-party sellers succeeded because they had access to “the very best selling tools we could imagine and build,” including the Prime service and Fulfillment by Amazon for shipping. Bezos noted that Amazon’s third-party sales had a compound annual growth rate of 52% from 1999 to 2019, compared to 20% for eBay.

Originally an online auction house, eBay ranks as the world’s second largest e-commerce retailer excluding China, with gross merchandise volume of $95 billion in 2018. Amazon remains the industry leader.

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EBay shares were flat in trading Thursday.

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