eBay turns to an e-retail outsider to lead global marketplaces

Devin Wenig was an executive at business news organization Thomson Reuters.

Stefany Zaroban

EBay Inc. said today it has hired a former executive from business news organization Thomson Reuters as its new head of global marketplaces. Devin Wenig will oversee eBay Marketplaces, classifieds and eBay’s ticketing sales site StubHub.com.

Wenig was previously the CEO of Thomson Reuters Markets, a division of Thomson Reuters Corp., where he oversaw media businesses and led the integration of Thomson and Reuters after the two companies merged. EBay says the 18 years Wenig spent with the media outlet makes him qualified for the job because he knows how to develop global technology platforms amid the changing demands of consumers.

Wenig reports to eBay president and CEO John Donohoe.

“We are focused on shaping the future of commerce with retailers and sellers of all sizes across multiple formats, including mobile, local and social commerce,” Donohoe says. “Devin will be a strong leader to drive our vision of enabling retailers of all sizes to grow their businesses and enabling consumers to shop anytime, anywhere for whatever they want.”

Some analysts, however, say they are puzzled by the choice, as Wenig has little retail or e-commerce experience. “It’s interesting because he’s not from the business,” says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, which helps e-retailers sell on eBay and other online marketplaces. “It looks like they were going more for the executive checklist than they were an e-commerce veteran. For me personally, I would have rather seen a more product-focused choice.”

Others say the hire is good news for eBay and eBay sellers, because someone with a strong executive background, and not necessarily e-retail experience, will help eBay to reshape its image.

Eric Best, CEO of Mercent Corp., which also works with retailers that sell on eBay, says eBay’s marketplace growth is being thwarted by consumers thinking eBay is mainly a place to go for used and off-season merchandise. “Listening to our retail clients and looking ahead, there is still a fundamental brand identity challenge that eBay needs to overcome,” Best says. “Our retail clients are hoping that we see more investment from eBay in mass market brand positioning with consumers.  It looks like Devin, with his experience at Reuters, will be well versed in addressing these challenges.”

In 2010, eBay Marketplaces, which includes eBay.com, generated $53.5 billion in  gross merchandise volume, and the $5.7 billion in revenue those sales brought to eBay accounted for 62% of total eBay Inc. revenue. In July, the company announced that it expected to generate more than $4 billion in sales volume on its mobile apps this year, more than double the sales from last year.


branding, ChannelAdvisor, Devin Wenig, eBay, eBay Marketplaces, Eric Best, John Donohoe, Mercent, online marketplace, Scot Wingo, StubHub.com, Thomson Reuters