What makes him powerful: When eBay reported third quarter 2011 revenues of $3 billion--a 32 percent year-over-year increase--the company's president and CEO John Donahoe was quick to credit the jump to the company's fast-growing mobile commerce efforts. Halfway through the fourth quarter, eBay is on pace to close more than $5 billion in mobile-enabled transactions by year's end, while the company's PayPal subsidiary expected to handle more than $3.5 billion in mobile payments. "Our perspective on mobile is that it's not incremental, it is another screen in the shopping experience," Donahoe said during the recent Open Mobile Summit event in San Francisco. "It's a consumer that is coming back more frequently and shopping more because now it can be done at any time of the day. We know it is driving consumer engagement and customer value."
Between the eBay and PayPal properties, Donahoe is revolutionizing m-commerce from both ends of the spectrum, shepherding shoppers from the desktop to the smartphone by offering a wealth of merchandise available via multiple mobile channels as well as options to fund their purchases. Consumers have downloaded eBay's app on platforms like iOS, Android and Windows Phone more than 56 million times, with the eBay Marketplace app alone yielding 20 million downloads. Users now make three eBay purchases via mobile device every second. In addition, eBay sellers now list more than 700,000 new items per week via mobile device.
Donahoe also has mastermind a series of acquisitions critical to expanding and simplifying the mobile user experience. Late last year, eBay purchased smartphone application developer Critical Path Software, its partner on solutions including the popular eBay for iPhone. In April, it landed location-based media and discovery solutions provider WHERE, and in July, it scooped up mobile payments technology firm Zong for approximately $240 million in cash. In addition, eBay continues to exploit emerging technologies to bolster its existing mobile services. For example, Donahoe recently announced the company will integrate image recognition capabilities into future version of its mobile apps, enabling consumers to snap photos of items they wish to purchase and then match the image with products for sale across the eBay platform.
But it's eBay-owned commerce solutions provider PayPal that's making even bigger waves as the firm looks to translate its dominance over online payments to the mobile ecosystem. Speaking on eBay's first quarter 2011 earnings call in late April, Donahoe championed PayPay as "the only safe way to pay on mobile phones." As of late June, PayPal processes $10 million in mobile total payments volume each day, up from $6 million in March. More than 8 million PayPal customers now make conduct transactions on their mobile phones, with person-to-person money transfers and m-commerce purchases representing the majority of user activity.
Purchases and money transfers are just the beginning, however. In mid-September, PayPal took the wraps off a series of new payment technologies that PayPal President Scott Thompson called "a one-stop shop for merchants to engage their customers directly during every part of the shopping lifecycle."
PayPal is currently previewing the new services to merchant partners--specifics are largely unknown, but writing on the PayPal Blog, Thompson stated the company plans to make digital commerce solutions available across all devices, not just mobile phones, and offer funding options including cash, credit and installments. In addition to mobile and point-of-sale payments, PayPal will roll out geo-targeted mobile advertising campaigns, barcode scanning tools, real-time inventory data and a virtual wallet concept. If anyone can build a bridge between digital commerce and its real-world counterpart, Donahoe's the guy. --Jason