More Mobile Customers, and Many Spending 'Twice as Much': eBay CEO
"Mobile is increasingly the way people are shopping and paying," said Donahoe, who estimates that eBay will see over $20 billion of mobile commerce volume and over $20 billion in mobile payments in 2013.
"We're in the early stages of the mobile transition," he said. Retailers are leaning into the "multiple screen" experience and will begin to offer more "seamless" shopping options with interfaces such as touch screens in store windows so that customers can shop even when outlets are closed, he said.
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Donahoe said the 22 percent of eBay users on multiple screens are buying "twice as much." That means that "consumers that are using multiple devices are more engaged," he said. "I think we are in the very early days; it's a very exciting experience for consumers."
One trend Donahoe has noticed is higher use of mobile for customers in offline shopping. "Even if they don't close the transaction on a mobile device, they are doing a search or checking prices," he said. "The mobile device is really becoming the central control device of people's lives, so we're orienting a lot of our products and innovation in that area."
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PayPal, one of eBay's units, has made a number of deals in the past 24 months, many of which Donahoe characterized as "talent and capability acquisitions." Although these acquisitions may have a technology or business model that eBay finds attractive, Donahoe said it likes to bring entrepreneurial teams and their projects into the company's overall offering.
Concerning taxes on Internet sales, Donahoe said, eBay's priority is protecting small businesses, which make up a healthy portion of its sellers.
"The burden of collecting sales tax, we think, is going to be cumbersome and ultimately hurt them—we are concerned, and we're speaking out," he said, although he added that he doesn't see it as affecting eBay's ecosystem.
When asked about eBay's perspective on bitcoin, Donahoe called it "another classic case of a radically disruptive, innovative idea that is in its very, very early stages." He said that it is "interesting, and it will play its way out as the different stakeholders begin to get their hands around it."
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Internationally, Donahoe said, "Europe is a little bit softer that what we thought it would be in the beginning of the year, but I wouldn't say it's material. The strength in the U.S. has offset the softness in Europe. In actuality, the quarterly profile of our guidance this year is similar to past years."
EBay delivered a slight beat on earnings Wednesday, but its outlook disappointed Street estimates. For the full year, the company expects to post adjusted earnings between $2.70 and $2.75 a share on revenue of $16 billion to $16.5 billion. Analysts currently expect earnings of $2.74 a share on revenue of $16.38 billion.
EBay sees faster growth in the second half, CFO Robert Swan said on the earnings call. For the first quarter, earnings excluding items rose to 63 cents a share compared with 55 cents a share a year earlier. Revenue increased 14 percent to $3.75 billion from $3.28 billion a year earlier.