ebay-organizational-structure

eBay Organizational Structure

eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization with semi-autonomous units grouped according to the services they provided. Today, eBay has a single division called Marketplace, which includes eBay and its international iterations.

eBay Origin Story

Founded in 1995 as AuctionWeb, the online marketplace now known as eBay became one of the earliest success stories on the internet. Two years after it launched, the platform sold its millionth item and an IPO soon followed in 1998.

While eBay’s premier online marketplace is now available in 180 countries, it’s important to mention that the company has also acquired various ancillary products and services over the years. These were once reflected in eBay’s organizational structure and served to streamline processes and management between the company and its subsidiaries. However, in recent times, the company has returned to its roots and its composition has changed accordingly.

So how is eBay structured, exactly? Let’s begin.

Multi-divisional operations

eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization. This meant that the company was split into several semi-autonomous units that were ultimately guided and controlled by headquarters.

eBay’s divisional units were grouped according to the services they provided and consisted of Marketplace, StubHub, Payments, and Classifieds.

Today, it is thought that a sole divisional unit remains:

  1. Marketplace – the most profitable division for the company which includes eBay.com and its various international sites.

As part of a move to focus on its C2C and B2C business, eBay either sold or spun-out companies across its other divisions between 2015 and 2020. 

Perhaps the most high-profile of these was PayPal, which became an independent company in 2015 after thirteen years as an eBay subsidiary. StubHub was also sold for $4.05 billion in 2019 and the entire Classifieds unit – which once included Craiglist and Kijiji – was divested in 2020.

Geographic divisions

In 2019, eBay announced it would be placing the company’s geographic divisions in a new structure under the leadership of Jay Lee, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Markets.

This new structure consists of the following regions:

  • Americas.
  • APAC (Asia-Pacific). 
  • UK.
  • Central and Southern Europe, and
  • Cross-Border Trade.

Leadership of function-based units

eBay has a hierarchical leadership structure with the current President and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Iannone at the helm. 

Before eBay divested most of its divisions, it was noted there that was a duplication of many management, administration, and staff activities.

Today, the company is smaller and arguably more efficient. Senior vice presidents manage the following functional areas for the company’s Marketplace division:

  • People.
  • eBay Europe.
  • Legal.
  • Growth.
  • Business and Strategy.
  • International.
  • Financial.
  • Technology, and
  • Product.

Board of Directors

eBay’s Board of Directors consists of 13 individuals who comprise four different committees:

  1. Audit Committee.
  2. Compensation & Human Capital Committee.
  3. Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee.
  4. Risk Committee.

Key takeaways:

  • eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization with semi-autonomous units grouped according to the services they provided. Today, eBay has a single division called Marketplace, which includes eBay and its international iterations.
  • In 2019, eBay announced it would be placing the company’s geographic divisions in a new structure under the command of SVP Jay Lee. 
  • eBay has a hierarchical leadership structure with various senior vice presidents in charge of function-based groups. There is also a 13-member Board of Directors responsible for audits, compensation, human capital, corporate governance, and risk.

Read Next: Organizational Structure.

Read Also: eBay Business Model.

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eBay Business Model

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eBay’s core business is a platform business model that makes money from transaction fees through its marketplaces. In short, eBay primarily makes money by charging fees on successfully closed transactions. For instance, in 2021, on an $87 billion worth of gross merchandise value sold on eBay, the company generated $9.77 billion in transaction revenues at an 11.19% take rate (fee).

eBay Revenue

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In 2022, eBay generated $9.79 billion, compared to $10.42 billion in 2021. A 6% decrease year-over-year.

Is eBay Profitable?

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In 2022, eBay reported a net loss of $1.27 billion, compared to a net profit of $13.6 billion in 2021.

eBay Revenue Breakdown

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In 2022, eBay generated $9.77 billion in transaction revenue and $650 million in marketing services revenue.

How Much Does eBay Take?

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In 2021, eBay’s take rate was 11.19%. It means that eBay takes a cut of over 11% for each transaction happening through the platform. For instance, in 2021, on a total of over $87 billion in gross merchandise value on top of the platform, the company generated almost ten billion in transaction revenues.

eBay Bidding System

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eBay bidding is a way for buyers to bid on a product whose sale price is decided by auction. The bidding process itself is automated, with eBay acting on the buyer’s behalf.

eBay Organizational Structure

ebay-organizational-structure
eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization with semi-autonomous units grouped according to the services they provided. Today, eBay has a single division called Marketplace, which includes eBay and its international iterations.

Etsy vs. Ebay

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eBay vs. Amazon

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In 2021, Amazon generated almost $470 billion in revenue, vs. eBay’s over $10.4 billion. In comparison, looking at revenues, Amazon was 45x times larger than eBay.

Amazon Business Model

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Amazon has a diversified business model. In 2022 Amazon posted over $514 billion in revenues, while it posted a net loss of over $2.7 billion. Online stores contributed almost 43% of Amazon revenues. The remaining was generated by Third-party Seller Services, and Physical Stores. While  Amazon AWS, Subscription Services, and Advertising revenues play a significant role within Amazon as fast-growing segments.

Amazon Revenue By Country

Amazon Revenue By Country
In 2022, most of Amazon’s revenue came from the US, with over $356 billion in revenue, followed by Germany with $33.6 billion, the UK with $30 billion, Japan with $24.4 billion, and the rest of the world generated almost $70 billion in net sales.

Amazon Cost Structure

amazon-cost-structure
Both the North American and International segment of Amazon are running at negative margins. Indeed, in 2022, for the North American segments, of almost $316 billion in revenue, Amazon spent almost $319 billion in operating costs to run it, thus it generated $2 billion in operating losses in 2022. For its International segment, of $118 billion in revenue, Amazon spent almost $126 billion to operate it. Thus, it reported a $7.7 billion operating loss. While for AWS, with $80 billion in revenue, Amazon spent $57 billion to operate it, thus generating almost $23 billion in operating income. The high operating costs are primarily due to the high cost of running Amazon’s inventory and fulfillment infrastructure behind its e-commerce operations. Indeed, Amazon is as much as a physical player as a digital one.

Is Amazon Profitable Without AWS?

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Amazon was not profitable once AWS was removed in 2022. In fact, Amazon, without AWS generated $10.6 billion in operating losses. While Amazon, without AWS, generated $12.2. billion operating income.

Amazon Profit Breakdown

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Amazon is subdivided into three operating profit segments: North America, International, and AWS. Amazon AWS is the most profitable segment, with almost $23 billion in operating profit in 2022. While Both the North American and International segments run at negative operating losses, with $2 billion and $7.74 billion in operating losses, respectively, in 2022.

Amazon Revenue Breakdown

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Amazon Revenue Per Employee

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Amazon Mission Statement

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Amazon’s mission statement is to “serve consumers through online and physical stores and focus on selection, price, and convenience.” Amazon’s vision statement is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.” 

Customer Obsession

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In the Amazon Shareholders’ Letter for 2018, Jeff Bezos analyzed the Amazon business model, and it also focused on a few key lessons that Amazon as a company has learned over the years. These lessons are fundamental for any entrepreneur, of small or large organization to understand the pitfalls to avoid to run a successful company!

Amazon Revenues

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Amazon has a business model with many moving parts. The e-commerce platform generated $220 billion in 2022, followed by third-party stores services which generated over $117 billion; Amazon AWS, which generated over $80 billion; Amazon advertising which generated almost $38 billion and Amazon Prime, which generated over $35 billion, and physical stores which generated almost $19 billion.

Amazon Cash Conversion

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Working Backwards

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The Amazon Working Backwards Method is a product development methodology that advocates building a product based on customer needs. The Amazon Working Backwards Method gained traction after notable Amazon employee Ian McAllister shared the company’s product development approach on Quora. McAllister noted that the method seeks “to work backwards from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt customers onto it.”

Amazon Flywheel

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The Amazon Flywheel or Amazon Virtuous Cycle is a strategy that leverages on customer experience to drive traffic to the platform and third-party sellers. That improves the selections of goods, and Amazon further improves its cost structure so it can decrease prices which spins the flywheel.

Jeff Bezos Day One

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In the letter to shareholders in 2016, Jeff Bezos addressed a topic he had been thinking quite profoundly in the last decades as he led Amazon: Day 1. As Jeff Bezos put it “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

Types of Organizational Structures

organizational-structure-types
Organizational Structures

Siloed Organizational Structures

Functional

functional-organizational-structure
In a functional organizational structure, groups and teams are organized based on function. Therefore, this organization follows a top-down structure, where most decision flows from top management to bottom. Thus, the bottom of the organization mostly follows the strategy detailed by the top of the organization.

Divisional

divisional-organizational-structure

Open Organizational Structures

Matrix

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Flat

flat-organizational-structure
In a flat organizational structure, there is little to no middle management between employees and executives. Therefore it reduces the space between employees and executives to enable an effective communication flow within the organization, thus being faster and leaner.

Connected Business Frameworks

Portfolio Management

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Project portfolio management (PPM) is a systematic approach to selecting and managing a collection of projects aligned with organizational objectives. That is a business process of managing multiple projects which can be identified, prioritized, and managed within the organization. PPM helps organizations optimize their investments by allocating resources efficiently across all initiatives.

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

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Harvard Business School professor Dr. John Kotter has been a thought-leader on organizational change, and he developed Kotter’s 8-step change model, which helps business managers deal with organizational change. Kotter created the 8-step model to drive organizational transformation.

Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model

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The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model was created by David Nadler and Michael Tushman at Columbia University. The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model is a diagnostic tool that identifies problem areas within a company. In the context of business, congruence occurs when the goals of different people or interest groups coincide.

McKinsey’s Seven Degrees of Freedom

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McKinsey’s Seven Degrees of Freedom for Growth is a strategy tool. Developed by partners at McKinsey and Company, the tool helps businesses understand which opportunities will contribute to expansion, and therefore it helps to prioritize those initiatives.

Mintzberg’s 5Ps

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Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy is a strategy development model that examines five different perspectives (plan, ploy, pattern, position, perspective) to develop a successful business strategy. A sixth perspective has been developed over the years, called Practice, which was created to help businesses execute their strategies.

COSO Framework

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The COSO framework is a means of designing, implementing, and evaluating control within an organization. The COSO framework’s five components are control environment, risk assessment, control activities, information and communication, and monitoring activities. As a fraud risk management tool, businesses can design, implement, and evaluate internal control procedures.

TOWS Matrix

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The TOWS Matrix is an acronym for Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Strengths. The matrix is a variation on the SWOT Analysis, and it seeks to address criticisms of the SWOT Analysis regarding its inability to show relationships between the various categories.

Lewin’s Change Management

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Lewin’s change management model helps businesses manage the uncertainty and resistance associated with change. Kurt Lewin, one of the first academics to focus his research on group dynamics, developed a three-stage model. He proposed that the behavior of individuals happened as a function of group behavior.

Organizational Structure Case Studies

Airbnb Organizational Structure

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Airbnb follows a holacracy model, or a sort of flat organizational structure, where teams are organized for projects, to move quickly and iterate fast, thus keeping a lean and flexible approach. Airbnb also moved to a hybrid model where employees can work from anywhere and meet on a quarterly basis to plan ahead, and connect to each other.

eBay Organizational Structure

ebay-organizational-structure
eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization with semi-autonomous units grouped according to the services they provided. Today, eBay has a single division called Marketplace, which includes eBay and its international iterations.

IBM Organizational Structure

ibm-organizational-structure
IBM has an organizational structure characterized by product-based divisions, enabling its strategy to develop innovative and competitive products in multiple markets. IBM is also characterized by function-based segments that support product development and innovation for each product-based division, which include Global Markets, Integrated Supply Chain, Research, Development, and Intellectual Property.

Sony Organizational Structure

sony-organizational-structure
Sony has a matrix organizational structure primarily based on function-based groups and product/business divisions. The structure also incorporates geographical divisions. In 2021, Sony announced the overhauling of its organizational structure, changing its name from Sony Corporation to Sony Group Corporation to better identify itself as the headquarters of the Sony group of companies skewing the company toward product divisions.

Facebook Organizational Structure

facebook-organizational-structure
Facebook is characterized by a multi-faceted matrix organizational structure. The company utilizes a flat organizational structure in combination with corporate function-based teams and product-based or geographic divisions. The flat organization structure is organized around the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, and the key executives around him. On the other hand, the function-based teams based on the main corporate functions (like HR, product management, investor relations, and so on).

Google Organizational Structure

google-organizational-structure
Google (Alphabet) has a cross-functional (team-based) organizational structure known as a matrix structure with some degree of flatness. Over the years, as the company scaled and it became a tech giant, its organizational structure is morphing more into a centralized organization.

Tesla Organizational Structure

tesla-organizational-structure
Tesla is characterized by a functional organizational structure with aspects of a hierarchical structure. Tesla does employ functional centers that cover all business activities, including finance, sales, marketing, technology, engineering, design, and the offices of the CEO and chairperson. Tesla’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, decide the strategic direction of the company, with international operations given little autonomy.

McDonald’s Organizational Structure

mcdonald-organizational-structure
McDonald’s has a divisional organizational structure where each division – based on geographical location – is assigned operational responsibilities and strategic objectives. The main geographical divisions are the US, internationally operated markets, and international developmental licensed markets. And on the other hand, the hierarchical leadership structure is organized around regional and functional divisions.

Walmart Organizational Structure

walmart-organizational-structure
Walmart has a hybrid hierarchical-functional organizational structure, otherwise referred to as a matrix structure that combines multiple approaches. On the one hand, Walmart follows a hierarchical structure, where the current CEO Doug McMillon is the only employee without a direct superior, and directives are sent from top-level management. On the other hand, the function-based structure of Walmart is used to categorize employees according to their particular skills and experience.

Microsoft Organizational Structure

microsoft-organizational-structure
Microsoft has a product-type divisional organizational structure based on functions and engineering groups. As the company scaled over time it also became more hierarchical, however still keeping its hybrid approach between functions, engineering groups, and management.

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