Code Conference

We have AI, too—and we'll find you: EBay CEO

EBay CEO: Our brand stands for the unique items

Someday, eBay wants to be able to find its more than 162 million active buyers wherever they are online, its chief executive said.

Devin Wenig, eBay president and CEO, told CNBC's "Fast Money: Halftime Report" on Thursday that he has a vision for how artificial intelligence will help eBay ahead of the commerce field in the next three to four years.

Jeff Bezos
Amazon's Bezos sees AI at early stages of decades-long trend
A delivery staff of hands goods to a customer
Amazon counterfeiters wreak havoc on artists and small businesses
Kermit Washington
Former NBA player Kermit Washington charged by the Department of Justice

"There'll always be an eBay destination, or an app, but there's a fabric that lives beyond eBay," Wenig said. "It'll find you where you are. You may be in a social network, you may be in a messaging application, you may be living in other digital properties. As long as you express intent, I'd like eBay to come to you and bring you the right item."

Wenig spoke from Rancho Palos Verdes, California, where the technology industry has gathered this week for the annual Code Conference. Earlier in the conference, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos described a golden age of artificial intelligence, and revealed that the eBay-rival has 1,000 people dedicated to its Alexa voice-powered platform.

But Wenig jabbed at devices like Alexa, saying that he feels eBay has a winning strategy by focusing on vertical artificial intelligence — using data about what users intend to purchase and what they actually buy to deliver the right product for each person.

An employee stacks items to be shipped at the fulfillment center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Amazon's big secret: Prime has nearly 70 million members, Bernstein analyst says
Employees at a Walmart in Los Angeles.
How Wal-Mart will keep slashing its prices: Drones

"I absolutely think that we can be a leader in artificial intelligence, and I think its future importance to commerce is significant," Wenig said. "I think horizontal use cases of AI are very far away — this idea that you'll talk to something and it will do anything for you. ... It's the vertical use cases that are going to win overall."

Amazon and eBay aren't alone in the field of artificial intelligence, as both technology companies and retailers experiment with new ways to monetize the web's most popular destinations.

Though both Wenig and Bezos have hammered the importance of artificial intelligence, Wenig said eBay will stay away from other Amazon strategies, like ramping up faster delivery. Instead, eBay will focus less on speed and more on providing unique products and breadth of selection, Wenig said.

"My entire philosophy is to be less like our competitors, and not more like our competitors," Wenig said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with fast shipping, but I don't think 100 percent of a $17 trillion commerce market will be defined by it."

— CNBC's Ari Levy contributed to this report.

CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode's parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.