eBay, the Global Online Marketplace That Revolutionized Ecommerce, Has an Uncertain Future in Korea

By Elijah Labby Thursday, January 21, 2021

eBay has been around for decades and made huge waves in the ecommerce industry when it went online, but the company’s future business in South Korea has never been more uncertain than now. The online marketplace giant released a statement recently that seemed to lend credence to the idea that a sale is imminent.

The terse statement from the online marketplace read, “eBay has initiated a process to explore, review, and evaluate a range of strategic alternatives for its Korea business. The company is considering options that would maximize value for its shareholders and create future growth opportunities for the business.”

Logo of online marketplace eBay at company headquarters

eBay’s Strategy

The company has made several moves that make the sale more likely. On January 20, it announced that its Korea branch had appointed Chun Hang-il to be its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). What’s more, eBay’s strategy has led them to spend the last year selling off many of the business’s notable elements, including its classifieds business to Adevinta for $9.2 billion and its event ticket business StubHub.

All of these actions make it likely that eBay as we know it may be coming to an end soon in South Korea, but what will take the company’s place? It’s possible that the business’s strategy could be to sell the company to another ecommerce business in Korea, but with eBay’s leadership declining to make “further public announcements regarding the strategic review unless and until the Board has approved a course of action requiring disclosure,” we may not know for some time.

eBay’s Ecommerce Competitorst

What we do know is that there is no shortage of desire for ecommerce services in the region. An online marketplace called Coupang, known for its Amazon-like all-in-one strategy, is making waves in the market and is one of the top contenders to purchase eBay Korea.

The company is rumored to have an initial public offering (IPO) in March, which sent ripples through the stock market as the stock prices of partner companies jumped. And while the business suffered losses for several years as it fought to get off the ground, some experts are saying concerns about its viability are overwrought.

“Doubts over business sustainability in regards to the cash-bleeding Coupang have run rampant for years,” an official from the private equity fund market told The Korea Herald. “A successful IPO will help the Korean [ecommerce] market earn trust from both domestic and global investors.”

This trust comes with time, but it’s a good sign that the Korean ecommerce market is strong enough to produce a company like Coupang. If the online marketplace decides to purchase eBay Korea, the latter will be in good hands.

About the Author

Headshot for author Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy website.

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