Cohort Of Equity Firms To Acquire EBay Enterprise, Including Marketing Tools, For $925M

123EBay has confirmed plans to sell eBay Enterprise, its enterprise commerce and marketing services business, to a handful of equity and commerce firms for $925 million, one day before it spins off PayPal as a standalone entity. The divestiture creates a new standalone commerce and marketing tech company.

Marketing components within the eBay Enterprise stack include database marketing through MBS, attribution via ClearSaleing, affiliate and paid search tools through PepperJam Exchange, mobile messaging via M3 Mobile, sell-side media with GSI Media, display and retargeting via FetchBack and email and agency services via E-Dialog.

The buyers are US-based private equity firm Sterling Partners, European asset management firm Longview Asset Management, American e-commerce fulfillment company Innotrac and undisclosed firms under the global investment fund Permira.

EBay’s commerce marketing arm dates back to 2011, when it acquired GSI Commerce for $2.4 billion and rebranded the company eBay Enterprise.

EBay’s intention with eBay Enterprise was to leverage its consumer data for attribution and to build out a digital marketing suite. Clients are primarily retail players, according to Forrester Research analyst Tina Moffett. About 75% of eBay Enterprise clients were retailers, Moffett said, 10% were agencies and the remainder trickled down to financial services and hospitality firms.

With eBay Enterprise, end-to-end commerce marketing was the promise. But as for attribution, the firm didn’t deliver on that pipe dream, she said, in part due to integration issues with ClearSaleing, which GSI bought in 2011 before its acquisition by eBay.

“It was difficult for eBay to integrate ClearSaleing into the GSI eBay family because there were a lot of acquisitions going on at the time,” Moffett said. “They had to look at their core product and identify where they needed to invest in strategic partnerships like [marketing services firm] FICO, and where they needed to develop in-house.”

Despite integration issues, what eBay got right with eBay Enterprises was education.

“They were able to productize the change management piece of it and provide a comprehensive training series because they have such large scale,” Moffett said. “But they fell short with the execution of attribution and measurement of marketing and media.”

It remains to be seen what the future of eBay’s attribution functionality looks like, Moffett added.

“We have to see what the investors will focus on and what their core strengths are,” she said. “From a measurement perspective, eBay still has a lot of work to do.”

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