February 17, 2010, 12:00 AM

Google hires an eBay veteran to fill a new e-commerce post

The search giant has appointed Stephanie Tilenius, a nine-year eBay veteran, to become the company’s first vice president of commerce. Her appointment seems to confirm that Google is looking to become a force in Internet retailing, experts say.

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Search giant Google Inc. has taken another step toward becoming a direct participant in online retailing by creating the position of vice president of commerce. It has appointed Stephanie Tilenius, an eBay Inc. veteran, to the post.

Last month, Google began selling the Nexus One mobile phone-which runs an operating system built in part by Google-on its own e-commerce site. Also last month, Google dipped its toes in video when it offered $3.99 rentals of independent movies from the Sundance Film Festival. And Google plans to launch during the first half of the year Google Editions, an e-books online store. The company also has indicated it plans to create another online store to sell web-based business software.

Tilenius most recently was head of global product and North America at eBay, where she served for nine years in various executive positions, including as head of PayPal, eBay’s online payment service. Her appointment seems to confirm that Google is indeed looking to become a significant force in the world of Internet retailing and to expand its revenue base beyond search advertising, experts say.

“It shows they actually have a serious plan in operation to become a retailer,” says Udayan Bose, founder and CEO of NetElixir Inc., a search engine marketing firm. “Google has always been a one-trick pony when it comes to revenue. Appointing Stephanie to spearhead commerce demonstrates very seriously their commitment to online retailing.”

Bose also believes that hiring a nine-year veteran of eBay may provide a clue as to which online retailers are in Google’s sights. “Given that Stephanie has so much experience at eBay,” Bose says, “it seems likely Google ultimately wants to build an online retail platform that can compete with eBay as well as Amazon.com.”

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