This prospectus relates to 10,000,000 shares of common stock of eBay Inc. that may be offered and issued from time to time in connection with acquisitions of other businesses, assets or securities.
The amount and type of consideration we will offer and the other specific terms of each acquisition will be determined by negotiations with the owners or persons who control the businesses, assets or securities to be acquired. We may structure business acquisitions in a variety of ways, including acquiring stock, other equity interests or assets of the acquired business or merging the acquired business with us or one of our subsidiaries. We expect that the price of the shares we issue will be related to their market price, either when we agree to the particular acquisition, when we issue the shares, or during some other negotiated period. We may be required to provide further information by means of a post-effective amendment to the registration statement or a supplement to this prospectus once we know the actual information concerning a specific acquisition.
We will pay all expenses of this offering. We do not expect to pay any underwriting discounts or commissions in connection with issuing these shares, although we may pay finders fees in specific acquisitions. Any person receiving a finders fee may be deemed an underwriter within the meaning of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended.
We may also permit individuals or entities who have received or will receive shares of our common stock in connection with the acquisitions described above to use this prospectus to cover resales of those shares. If this happens, we will not receive any proceeds from such shares. See Selling Stockholders for the identity of any such individuals or entities.
Our common stock is quoted on the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol EBAY. We will make an application to list these shares on the Nasdaq National Market. The last reported sales price of our common stock on the Nasdaq National Market on August 31, 2004 was $86.54 per share.
Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. See Risk Factors That May Affect Results of Operations and Financial Condition beginning on page 2.
The shares offered or sold under this prospectus have not been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission or any state securities commission, nor have these organizations determined that this prospectus is accurate or complete. Any representation to the contrary is a criminal offense.
The date of this prospectus is August 31, 2004
This prospectus incorporates important business and financial information that is not included in or delivered with this prospectus. This information is available without charge to security holders upon oral or written request to eBay Inc., Attn: Investor Relations, 2145 Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125, Telephone: (866) 696-3229. To ensure timely delivery of the requested information, you should make your request at least five business days before the date you must make your investment decision.
We pioneered online trading by developing an Internet-based marketplace in which a community of buyers and sellers are brought together in an entertaining, intuitive, easy-to-use environment to browse, buy and sell a wide variety of items. Through our PayPal service, we enable any business or consumer with email to send and receive online payments securely, conveniently and cost-effectively.
eBay Inc. was formed as a sole proprietorship in September 1995 and was incorporated in California in May 1996. In April 1998, we reincorporated in Delaware and in September 1998 we completed the initial public offering of our common stock. Our principal executive offices are located at 2145 Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, California, 95125, and our telephone number is (408) 376-7400. When we refer to we, our or eBay in this prospectus, we mean the current Delaware corporation (eBay Inc.) and its California predecessor, as well as all of our consolidated subsidiaries. When we refer to eBay.com, we mean the online marketplace located at www.ebay.com. When we refer to PayPal.com, we mean our global payments platform located at www.paypal.com.
FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
This prospectus and other documents that are and will be incorporated into this prospectus contain statements that involve expectations, plans or intentions (such as those relating to future business or financial results, new features or services, or management strategies). These statements are forward-looking and are subject to risks and uncertainties, so actual results may vary materially. You can identify these forward-looking statements by words such as may, will, should, expect, anticipate, believe, estimate, intend, plan and other similar expressions. You should consider our forward-looking statements in light of the risks discussed under the heading Risk Factors That May Affect Results of Operations and Financial Condition below and in documents incorporated herein by reference, including our consolidated financial statements, related notes, and other financial information appearing in our other filings and documents incorporated herein by reference. Given the risk and uncertainty we caution you not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this prospectus speak only as of the date hereof and we assume no obligation to update such statements.
Risk Factors That May Affect Results of Operations and Financial Condition
The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones facing us. Other events that we do not currently anticipate or that we currently deem immaterial also may impair our business operations.
|Our operating results may fluctuate.
Our operating results have varied on a quarterly basis during our operating history. Our operating results may fluctuate significantly as a result of a variety of factors, many of which are outside our control. Factors that may affect our quarterly operating results include the following:
|our ability to retain an active user base, to attract new users and to encourage existing users to list items for sale, purchase items through our service, or use our payment services;
|the amount and timing of operating costs and capital expenditures relating to the maintenance and expansion of our businesses, operations, and infrastructure;
|new laws or regulations, or interpretations of existing laws or regulations, that harm the Internet, electronic commerce, or our business model;
|our ability to comply with the requirements of entities whose services are required for our operations, such as credit card associations;
|the success of our geographic and product expansions;
|the actions of our competitors, including the introduction of new sites, services, and products;
|the volume, size, timing, and completion rate of transactions on our websites;
|consumer confidence in the safety and security of transactions on our websites;
|the costs and results of litigation that involves us;
|our ability to upgrade and develop our systems, infrastructure, and customer service capabilities to accommodate growth at a reasonable cost;
|our ability to keep our websites operational at a reasonable cost;
|our ability to develop product enhancements at a reasonable cost and to develop programs and features in a timely manner, including expanding our fixed-price offerings;
|our ability to successfully integrate and manage our acquisitions, including EachNet and, most recently, mobile.de;
|our ability to manage PayPals transaction loss and credit card chargeback rate and payment funding mix;
|our ability to expand PayPals product offerings outside of the U.S. (including our ability to obtain any necessary regulatory approvals) and to increase the acceptance of PayPal by online merchants outside of the eBay marketplace;
|our ability to attract new personnel in a timely and effective manner and to retain key employees;
|the results of regulatory decisions that affect us;
|technical difficulties or service interruptions involving our websites or services provided to our users by third parties;
|the timing, cost, and availability of advertising in traditional media and on other websites and online services;
|the success of our brand building and marketing campaigns;
|the continued financial strength of our technology suppliers and other parties with whom we have commercial relations;
|increasing consumer acceptance of the Internet and other online services for commerce and, in particular, for the trading of products such as those listed on our websites;
|general economic conditions and those economic conditions specific to the Internet and e-commerce industries; and
|geopolitical events such as war, threat of war, or terrorist actions.
Our limited operating history and the increased variety of services offered on our websites make it difficult for us to forecast the level or source of our revenues or earnings accurately. In view of the rapidly evolving nature of our business and our limited operating history, we believe that period-to-period comparisons of our operating results may not be meaningful, and you should not rely upon them as an indication of future performance. We do not have backlog, and substantially all of our net revenues each quarter come from transactions involving sales or payments during that quarter. Due to the inherent difficulty in forecasting revenues it is also difficult to forecast income statement expenses as a percentage of net revenues. Quarterly and annual income statement expenses as a percentage of net revenues may be significantly different from historical or projected rates. Our operating results in one or more future quarters may fall below the expectations of securities analysts and investors. In that event, the trading price of our common stock would almost certainly decline.
|We may not maintain our level of profitability.
We believe that our continued profitability at historical levels will depend in large part on our ability to do the following:
|attract new users and keep existing users active on our websites;
|manage the costs of our business, including the costs associated with maintaining and developing our websites, customer support, transaction and chargeback rates, and international and product expansion;
|maintain sufficient transaction volume to attract buyers and sellers;
|increase the awareness of our brands; and
|provide our customers with superior community, customer support, and trading experiences.
We invest heavily in marketing and promotion, customer support, and further development of operating infrastructure for our core and recently acquired operations. Some of this investment entails long-term contractual commitments. As a result, we may be unable to adjust our spending rapidly enough to compensate for any unexpected revenue shortfall, which may harm our profitability. In addition, we are spending in advance of anticipated growth, which may also harm our profitability.
|There are many risks associated with our international operations.
Our international expansion has been rapid and we have only limited experience in many of the countries in which we now do business. Our international business, especially in Germany, the U.K., Canada, and South Korea, has also become critical to our revenues and profits. Expansion into international markets, such as our recent entry into the Peoples Republic of China, requires management attention and resources. We have limited experience in localizing our service to conform to local cultures, standards and policies. In many countries, we compete with local companies who understand the local market better than we do. We may not be successful in expanding into particular international markets or in generating revenues from foreign operations. For example, in 2002 we withdrew from the Japanese market. Even if we are successful, we expect the costs of operating new sites to exceed our net revenues for at least 12 months in most countries. As we continue to expand internationally, including through the expansion of PayPal, we are subject to risks of doing business internationally, including the following:
|regulatory requirements, including regulation of auctioneering, professional selling, distance selling, banking, and money transmitting, that may limit or prevent the offering of eBays and PayPals services in some jurisdictions, prevent enforceable agreements between sellers and buyers, prohibit the listing of certain categories of goods, require special licensure, or limit the transfer of information between eBay and our affiliates;
|legal uncertainty regarding our liability for the listings and other content provided by our users, including uncertainty as a result of less Internet-friendly legal systems, unique local laws, and lack of clear precedent or applicable law;
|difficulties in integrating with local payment providers, including banks, credit and debit card associations, and electronic fund transfer systems;
|different employee/employer relationships and the existence of workers councils and labor unions;
|difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations;
|longer payment cycles, different accounting practices, and greater problems in collecting accounts receivable;
|potentially adverse tax consequences, including local taxation of our fees or of transactions on our websites;
|higher telecommunications and Internet service provider costs;
|strong local competitors;
|different and more stringent consumer protection, data protection and other laws;
|cultural ambivalence towards, or non-acceptance of, online trading;
|seasonal reductions in business activity;
|expenses associated with localizing our products, including offering customers the ability to transact business in the local currency;
|laws and business practices that favor local competitors;
|profit repatriation restrictions, foreign currency exchange restrictions, and exchange rate fluctuations;
|changes in a specific countrys or regions political or economic conditions; and
|differing intellectual property laws.
Some of these factors may cause our international costs of doing business to exceed our comparable domestic costs. As we expand our international operations and have additional portions of our international revenues denominated in foreign currencies, we also could become subject to increased difficulties in collecting accounts receivable and risks relating to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. The impact of currency exchange rate fluctuations is discussed in more detail under We are exposed to fluctuations in currency exchange rates, below.
We are in the process of expanding PayPals services internationally. Both eBay and PayPal have limited experience with the payments business outside of the U.S. In some countries, expansion of PayPals business may require a close commercial relationship with one or more local banks. We do not know if these or other factors may prevent, delay, or limit PayPals expansion or reduce its profitability. Any limitation on our ability to expand PayPal internationally could harm our business.
|Our investment in EachNet is subject to risks and uncertainties relating to the laws and regulations of the Peoples Republic of China.
In July 2003, we completed the acquisition of the remaining outstanding capital stock and options of EachNet. EachNet is a Delaware corporation and a foreign person under the laws of the Peoples Republic of China, or PRC, and is subject to many of the risks of doing business internationally described above in There are many risks associated with our international operations. The PRC currently regulates its Internet sector through regulations restricting the scope of foreign investment and through the enforcement of content restrictions on the Internet. While many aspects of these regulations remain unclear, they purport to limit and require licensing of various aspects of the provision of Internet information services. These regulations have created substantial uncertainties regarding the legality of foreign investments in PRC Internet companies, including EachNet and the business operations of such companies. In order to meet local ownership and regulatory licensing requirements, the EachNet website is operated through a foreign-owned enterprise indirectly owned by EachNet Inc., which acts in cooperation with a local PRC company owned by certain EachNet employees. We believe EachNets current ownership structure complies with all existing PRC laws, rules, and regulations. There are, however, substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation of current PRC laws and regulations, and it is possible that the PRC government will ultimately take a view contrary to ours. There are also uncertainties regarding EachNets ability to enforce contractual relationships it has entered into with respect to management and control of the companys business. If EachNet were found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations, it could be subject to fines and other financial penalties, have its business and Internet content provider licenses revoked, or be forced to discontinue its business entirely.
|We are exposed to fluctuations in currency exchange rates.
Net revenues outside the United States accounted for approximately 35% of our net revenues in 2003, and approximately 41% of our net revenues in the first six months of 2004. Because we conduct a significant
|Our business and users may be subject to sales and other taxes.
We do not collect sales or other similar taxes on goods or services sold by users through our services. One or more states or foreign countries may seek to impose sales, use, or value-added tax collection or record-keeping obligations on companies such as eBay that engage in or facilitate online commerce. For example, such taxes could be imposed if eBay were ever deemed to be an auctioneer or the legal agent of our sellers. A successful assertion by one or more states or any foreign country that we should collect sales or other taxes on the exchange of merchandise or services on our sites would harm our business. Several proposals have been made at the state and local level that would impose additional taxes on the sale of goods and services through the Internet. These proposals, if adopted, could substantially impair the growth of e-commerce, and could diminish our opportunity to derive financial benefit from our activities. Legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. Congress to override the Supreme Courts Quill decision, which limits the ability of state governments to require sellers outside of their own state to collect and remit sales taxes on goods purchased by in-state residents. In 1998 and 2000, the U.S. federal government enacted legislation prohibiting states or other local authorities from imposing access or discriminatory taxes on the Internet through November 1, 2003. The expiration of this moratorium has permitted states and localities to impose new taxes on the Internet that could adversely affect our business. So far, no such taxes have been imposed on either eBay or our users and the U.S. Congress continues to consider legislation to reinstate the moratorium.
In July 2003, eBay began collecting value-added tax, or VAT, on the fees we charge sellers in the European Union, or EU, on our sites catering to EU residents, and we pay sales, use or value-added tax on taxable items we purchase. In some cases, we are entitled to reclaim all or a portion of those taxes from the state or country, but the application of the laws and rules that allow such reclamation is sometimes unclear.
We continue to work with the relevant tax authorities to clarify our obligation under new and emerging regulations. There have been, and will continue to be, substantial ongoing costs associated with complying with the various sales, use and value-added tax requirements in the numerous markets in which we conduct business.
|Our business may be harmed by fraudulent activities on our websites and disputes between users of our services.
PayPal faces significant risks of loss due to fraud and disputes between senders and recipients, including:
|merchant fraud and other disputes over the quality of goods and services;
|unauthorized use of credit card and bank account information and identity theft;
|the need to provide effective customer support to process disputes between senders and recipients;
|potential breaches of system security;
|potential employee fraud; and
|use of PayPals system by customers to make or accept payment for illegal or improper purposes.
For the year ended December 31, 2003 and six months ended June 30, 2004, PayPals provision for transaction losses totaled $36.4 million and $22.4 million, respectively, representing 0.30% and 0.26%, respectively, of PayPals total payment volume in those periods. Failure to deal effectively with fraudulent transactions and customer disputes would increase PayPals loss rate and harm its business.
PayPals highly automated and liquid payment service makes PayPal an attractive target for fraud. In configuring its service, PayPal faces an inherent trade-off between customer convenience and security. Identity thieves and those committing fraud using stolen credit card or bank account numbers can potentially steal large amounts of money from businesses such as PayPals. We believe that several of PayPals current and former competitors in the electronic payments business have gone out of business or significantly restricted their businesses largely due to losses from this type of fraud. We expect that technically knowledgeable criminals will continue to attempt to circumvent PayPals anti-fraud systems. In addition, PayPals service could be subject to employee fraud or other internal security breaches, and PayPal would be required to reimburse customers for any funds stolen as a result of such breaches.
PayPal incurs substantial losses from merchant fraud, including claims from customers that merchants have not performed or that their goods or services do not match the merchants description. PayPal also incurs losses from claims that the customer did not authorize the purchase, from erroneous transmissions and from customers who have closed bank accounts or have insufficient funds in them to satisfy payments. In addition to the direct costs of such losses, if they are related to credit card transactions and become excessive they could result in PayPal losing the right to accept credit cards for payment. If PayPal were unable to accept credit cards, the velocity of trade on eBay could decrease, in which case our business would further suffer. PayPal has been assessed substantial fines for excess chargebacks in the past, and excessive chargebacks may arise in the future. PayPal has taken measures to detect and reduce the risk of fraud, but these measures may not be effective. If these measures do not succeed, our business will suffer.
In addition, prior to September 2003, some card issuers treated purchases made through PayPal as the purchase of a money transfer service rather than the purchase of goods and services, which resulted in reduced chargeback rights for the consumer if the consumer did not receive the goods or received unsatisfactory goods. PayPal could be required to provide consumers full chargeback rights in such pre-September 2003 cases, even if the normal time for exercising chargeback rights has expired. PayPal must also now absorb the costs of chargebacks from all card issuers for goods that are not delivered or are not as described, which may result in increased losses from merchant fraud and from disputes over the quality of goods and services.
In October 2003, PayPal launched a new buyer protection program that refunds to buyers up to $500 in certain eBay transactions if they do not receive the goods they purchased or if the goods differ significantly from what was described by the seller. In the event that PayPal makes such a refund, it will seek to collect reimbursement from the seller, but may not be able to receive any funds from the seller. The PayPal Buyer Protection program has increased PayPals loss rate and could cause future fluctuations.
eBay faces similar risks to those of PayPal with respect to fraudulent activities, although eBays risks may to some extent be less significant. eBay periodically receives complaints from users who may not have received
Negative publicity generated as a result of fraudulent or deceptive conduct by users of our eBay and PayPal services is increasing, and such publicity could damage our reputation, reduce our ability to attract new users, and diminish the value of our brand names.
|PayPals success in reducing fraud losses depends in part on its ability to restrict the withdrawal of customer funds while it investigates suspicious transactions. PayPal has been and could again be sued by plaintiffs and has received inquiries from governmental entities regarding its account restriction and disclosure practices. If the results of these lawsuits or inquiries are adverse to PayPal, it could be required to pay substantial damages and restructure its anti-fraud processes in ways that would harm its business.
As part of PayPals program to reduce fraud losses, it may temporarily restrict the ability of customers to withdraw their funds if those funds or the customers account activity are identified by PayPals anti-fraud models as suspicious. PayPal is subject to purported class action lawsuits challenging its procedures and disclosures with respect to suspicious accounts, and alleging that those procedures and disclosures violate federal and state law on consumer protection and unfair business practice and are inconsistent with PayPals user agreement. PayPal has also received inquiries regarding its restriction and disclosure practices from the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of a number of states. If PayPals processes are found to violate federal or state law on consumer protection and unfair business practices, it could be subject to an enforcement action or fines. If PayPal loses the litigation described above or becomes subject to an enforcement action, it could be required to restructure its anti-fraud processes in ways that would harm its business, and to pay substantial damages or fines. Even if PayPal is able to defend itself successfully, the litigation or enforcement action could cause damage to its reputation, could consume substantial amounts of its managements time and attention, and could require PayPal to change its customer service and operations in ways that could increase its costs and decrease the effectiveness of its anti-fraud program.
|Changes to card association rules or practices could negatively affect PayPals service and, if it does not comply with the rules, could result in a termination of PayPals ability to accept credit cards. If PayPal is unable to accept credit cards, our business would suffer.
Because PayPal is not a bank, it cannot belong to or directly access the Visa and MasterCard credit card associations. As a result, PayPal must rely on banks or payment processors to process transactions. PayPal is required by its processors to comply with credit card association operating rules, and PayPal has agreed to reimburse its processors for any fines they are assessed by credit card associations as a result of processing payments for PayPal. The credit card associations and their member banks set and interpret the credit card rules. Some of those member banks compete with PayPal. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover could adopt new operating rules or re-interpret existing rules that PayPal or its processors might find difficult or even impossible to follow. As a result, PayPal could lose its ability to give customers the option of using credit cards to fund their payments. If PayPal were unable to accept credit cards, its business would be
In 2002, both Visa and MasterCard adopted new operating rules for Internet payment services like PayPal. In order to comply with the associations new rules, PayPal and its credit card processors have implemented changes to existing business processes for customers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Any problems with this implementation could result in fines, the amount of which would be within Visas and MasterCards discretion. PayPal and its processors are working to implement changes to existing business processes for international customers outside of the U.S., Canada and Europe, and believe they have identified solutions for Hong Kong but have not yet identified solutions for other countries. Any continued inability to implement the necessary changes with respect to customers outside the U.S., Canada and Europe could result in fines or the inability of PayPal to process MasterCard payments for international merchants in certain countries. PayPal also could be subject to fines from MasterCard and Visa if it fails to register and conduct additional monitoring with respect to the activities of merchants that are considered high risk, primarily certain merchants that sell digital content. PayPal has incurred fines from its credit card processor in 2003 and the first two quarters of 2004 relating to PayPals failure to detect the use of its service by certain high risk merchants using the PayPal service. These fines have been in amounts that are not material, but any additional fines in the future would likely be for larger amounts, could become material, and could result in a termination of PayPals ability to accept credit cards, which would seriously damage PayPals business.
|Increases in credit card processing fees could increase PayPals costs, affect its profitability, or otherwise limit its operations.
From time to time, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover may increase the interchange fees that they charge for each transaction using one of their cards. MasterCard and Visa have each announced increases to their credit card interchange fees effective April 2004. Visa and MasterCard both implemented a decrease in their debit card interchange fees in August 2003 as a result of the settlement of litigation, but the settlement agreement required them to maintain these lower interchange fees only until January 2004, and they have announced increases in debit card interchange fees, in January 2004 and April 2004, respectively, to levels close to those that prevailed prior to August 2003. PayPals credit card processors have the right to pass any increases in interchange fees on to PayPal as well as increase their own fees for processing. Such increased fees will increase PayPals operating costs and reduce its profit margins.
|If PayPal were found to be subject to or in violation of any U.S. laws or regulations governing banking, money transmission or electronic funds transfers, it could be subject to liability and forced to change its business practices.
We believe that the licensing or approval requirements of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve Board, and other federal or state agencies that regulate banks, bank holding companies, or other types of providers of electronic commerce services do not apply to PayPal, except for certain money transmitter licenses mentioned below. However, one or more states may conclude that PayPal is engaged in an unauthorized banking business. PayPal received written communications from regulatory authorities in New York and Louisiana in early 2002 expressing the view that its service as it formerly operated constituted an unauthorized banking business, and from authorities in California and Idaho in 2001 that its service might constitute an unauthorized banking business. PayPal has taken steps to address these states concerns and received a conclusion in 2002 from the New York Banking Department that its current business model does not constitute illegal banking. PayPal also has obtained licenses to operate as a money transmitter in California, Louisiana, Idaho, and many other states. However, we cannot guarantee that the steps PayPal has taken to address state regulatory concerns will be effective in all states. If PayPal is found to be engaged in an unauthorized banking business in one or more states, it might be subject to monetary penalties and adverse publicity and might be required to cease doing business with residents of those states. Even if the steps it has taken to resolve these states concerns are deemed sufficient by the state regulatory authorities, PayPal could be subject to fines and penalties for its prior activities. The need to comply with state laws prohibiting unauthorized banking activities could also limit PayPals ability to enhance its services in the
A number of states have enacted legislation regulating money transmitters and PayPal has applied for licenses under this legislation in 33 jurisdictions. To date, PayPal has obtained licenses in 29 of these jurisdictions. As a licensed money transmitter, PayPal is subject to bonding requirements, restrictions on its investment of customer funds, reporting requirements, and inspection by state regulatory agencies. If PayPals pending applications were denied, or if it were found to be subject to and in violation of any money services laws or regulations, PayPal also could be subject to liability, forced to cease doing business with residents of certain states, or forced to change its business practices. Any change to PayPals business practices that makes the service less attractive to customers or prohibits its use by residents of a particular jurisdiction could decrease the velocity of trade on eBay, which would further harm our business. Even if PayPal is not forced to change its business practices, it could be required to obtain licenses or regulatory approvals that could impose a substantial cost on PayPal.
Although there have been no definitive interpretations to date, PayPal has assumed that its service is subject to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and Regulation E of the Federal Reserve Board. As a result, among other things, PayPal must provide advance disclosure of changes to its service, follow specified error resolution procedures and absorb losses above $50 from transactions not authorized by the consumer. In addition, PayPal is subject to the financial privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and related regulations. As a result, some customer financial information that PayPal receives is subject to limitations on reuse and disclosure. Existing and potential future privacy laws may limit PayPals ability to develop new products and services that make use of data gathered through its service. The provisions of these laws and related regulations are complicated, and PayPal does not have extensive experience in complying with them. Even technical violations of these laws can result in penalties of up to $1,000 for each non-compliant transaction. PayPal processed an average of approximately 629,000 transactions per day during 2003 and an average of approximately 862,000 transactions per day during the first six months of 2004, and any violations could expose PayPal to significant liability.
|PayPals status under banking or financial services laws or other laws in countries outside the U.S. is unclear. The cost of obtaining any required licenses or regulatory approvals in these countries could affect PayPals future profitability.
PayPal currently allows its customers with credit cards to send payments from 44 countries outside the U.S., and to receive payments in 43 of those countries. In 22 of these countries, customers can withdraw funds to local bank accounts. In the fourth quarter of 2002, PayPal began offering customers the ability to send or receive payments denominated in British Pounds, Euros, Canadian Dollars or Yen, in addition to U.S. Dollars. In February 2004, PayPal (Europe) Ltd., a wholly-subsidiary of PayPal, received a license to operate as an Electronic Money Institution in the United Kingdom as a vehicle for providing localized versions of PayPals service to customers in the EU. PayPal has completed the migration of all EU customers to that subsidiary. Fifteen of the 44 countries outside of the U.S. whose residents can use the PayPal service are members of the European Union. As PayPal (Europe) develops localized services for the domestic market in these countries, it is seeking approval to implement such localized service through an expedited passport notification process. Any delay in obtaining clearance through the passport process could force PayPal to delay its plans for expanding its business. PayPal has filed passport notices for Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Greece and Spain. PayPal (Europe) is subject to significant fines or other enforcement action if it violates the disclosure, reporting, anti money laundering, capitalization, funds management or other requirements imposed on electronic money institutions.
In the 22 countries that are not members of the European Union, it is not clear whether PayPals U.S.-based service is subject to local law or, if it is subject to local law, whether such local law requires a payment processor like PayPal to be licensed as a bank or financial institution or otherwise. Even if PayPal is not currently required to obtain a license in those countries, future localization or targeted marketing of
|Our auction business may be subject to regulation that could require us to modify our business practices.
Numerous states and foreign jurisdictions, including the State of California, where our headquarters are located, have regulations regarding how auctions may be conducted and the liability of auctioneers in conducting such auctions. No final legal determination has been made as to whether the California regulations apply to our business and little precedent exists in this area. Several states and some foreign jurisdictions have attempted, and may attempt in the future, to impose such regulations upon us or our users, which could harm our business. We are currently subject to potential regulation by the Illinois Office of Banks and Real Estate concerning the applicability of Illinois auction law to our services. In August 2002, Illinois amended its auction law to provide for a special regulatory regime for Internet auction listing services. We expect to register as an Internet auction listing service in Illinois following the adoption of regulations under the amended statute. Although we do not expect this registration to have a negative impact on our business, other regulatory and licensure claims could result in costly litigation or could require us to change our manner of doing business in ways that increase our costs or reduce our revenues or force us to prohibit listings of certain items for some locations. We could also be subject to fines or other penalties. Any of these outcomes could harm our business.
|We are subject to regulations relating to consumer privacy.
Several domestic jurisdictions have proposed, and California, Minnesota, Utah, and Vermont have recently passed, legislation that limits the uses of personal information gathered online or offline. Many jurisdictions already have such laws and continuously consider strengthening them, especially against online services. eBay and PayPal in certain instances are subject to some of these current laws. PayPal may be subject to recently enacted legislation in several states and countries imposing greater restrictions on the ability of financial services companies to share user information with third parties without affirmative user consent. However, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, or FCRA, includes a provision preempting conflicting state laws on the sharing of information between corporate affiliates. The preemptive provisions of FCRA were permanently extended last year, and as a result we believe that PayPal and eBay will not be subject to the laws of each individual state with respect to matters within the scope of FCRA, but will remain subject to the provisions of FCRA.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission also has settled several proceedings against companies regarding the manner in which personal information is collected from users and provided to third parties. Specific statutes intended to protect user privacy have been passed in many non-U.S. jurisdictions, including virtually every non-U.S. jurisdiction in which we currently have a localized website. Compliance with these laws, given the tight integration of our systems across different countries and the need to move data to facilitate transactions amongst our users (e.g., to payment companies, shipping companies, etc.), is both necessary and difficult. Failure to comply could subject us to lawsuits, fines, criminal penalties, statutory damages, adverse publicity, and other losses that could harm our business. Changes to existing laws or the passage of new laws intended to address these issues could directly affect the way we do business or could create uncertainty on the Internet. This could reduce demand for our services, increase the cost of doing business as a result of litigation costs or increased service or delivery costs, or otherwise harm our business.
|New and existing regulations could harm our business.
We are subject to the same foreign and domestic laws as other companies conducting business on and off the Internet. Today, there are still relatively few laws specifically directed towards online services. However, due to the increasing popularity and use of the Internet and online services, many laws relating to the Internet are being debated at all levels of government around the world and it is possible that such laws and regulations will be adopted. These laws and regulations could cover issues such as user privacy, freedom of expression, pricing, fraud, content and quality of products and services, taxation, advertising, intellectual property rights, and information security. Applicability to the Internet of existing laws governing issues such as property ownership, copyrights and other intellectual property issues, taxation, libel and defamation, obscenity, and personal privacy is uncertain. The vast majority of these laws were adopted prior to the advent of the Internet and related technologies and, as a result, do not contemplate or address the unique issues of the Internet and related technologies. Those laws that do reference the Internet, such as the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the European Unions Directive on Distance Selling and Electronic Commerce have only recently begun to be interpreted by the courts and implemented by the EU Member States, so their applicability and scope remain somewhat uncertain. As our activities and the types of goods listed on our website expand, regulatory agencies or courts may claim or hold that we or our users are either subject to licensure or prohibited from conducting our business in their jurisdiction, either with respect to our services in general, or in order to allow the sale of certain items (e.g., real estate, event tickets, cultural goods, boats, automobiles).
In addition, because our services are accessible worldwide, and we facilitate sales of goods to users worldwide, foreign jurisdictions may claim that we are required to comply with their laws. For example, the Australian high court has ruled that a U.S. website in certain circumstances must comply with Australian laws regarding libel. As we have expanded and localized our international activities, we have become obligated to comply with the laws of the countries in which we operate. Laws regulating Internet companies outside of the U.S. may be less favorable than those in the U.S., giving greater rights to consumers, content owners, and users. Compliance may be more costly or may require us to change our business practices or restrict our service offerings relative to those in the U.S. Our failure to comply with foreign laws could subject us to penalties ranging from criminal fines to bans on our services.
|PayPals financial success will remain highly sensitive to changes in the rate at which its customers fund payments using credit cards rather than bank account transfers or existing PayPal account balances. PayPals profitability could be harmed if the rate at which customers fund using credit cards goes up.
PayPal pays significant transaction fees when senders fund payment transactions using credit cards, nominal fees when customers fund payment transactions by electronic transfer of funds from bank accounts, and no fees when customers fund payment transactions from an existing PayPal account balance. Senders funded 55% of PayPals payment volume during 2003 and 54% of PayPals payment volume during the first six months of 2004 using credit cards. Senders may resist funding payments by electronic transfer from bank accounts because of the greater protection offered by credit cards, including the ability to dispute and reverse charges if merchandise is not delivered or is not as described, because of frequent flier miles or other incentives offered by credit cards, because of the ability to defer payment, or because of generalized fears regarding privacy or loss of control in providing bank account information to a third party.
|PayPal has limited experience in managing and accounting accurately for large amounts of customer funds. PayPals failure to manage these funds properly would harm its business.
PayPals ability to manage and account accurately for customer funds requires a high level of internal controls. PayPal has neither an established operating history nor proven management experience in maintaining, over a long term, these internal controls. As PayPals business continues to grow, it must strengthen its internal controls accordingly. PayPals success requires significant public confidence in its ability to handle large and growing transaction volumes and amounts of customer funds. Any failure to maintain necessary controls or to manage accurately customer funds could diminish customer use of PayPals product severely.
|Our business is subject to online commerce security risks, including security breaches and identity theft.
To succeed, online commerce and communications must provide a secure transmission of confidential information over public networks. Our security measures may not prevent security breaches that could harm our business. Currently, a significant number of our users authorize us to bill their credit card accounts directly for all transaction fees charged by us. PayPals users routinely provide credit card and other financial information. We rely on encryption and authentication technology licensed from third parties to provide the security and authentication technology to effect secure transmission of confidential information, including customer credit card numbers. Advances in computer capabilities, new discoveries in the field of cryptography or other developments may result in a compromise or breach of the technology used by us to protect transaction data. In addition, any party who is able to illicitly obtain a users password could access the users transaction data. A number of websites have reported breaches of their security. Any compromise of our security could harm our reputation and, therefore, our business. In addition, a party who is able to circumvent our security measures could misappropriate proprietary information, or cause interruptions in our operations, damage our computers or those of our users, or otherwise damage our reputation and business.
Our servers are also vulnerable to computer viruses, physical or electronic break-ins, and similar disruptions, and we have experienced denial-of-service type attacks on our system that have made all or portions of our websites unavailable for periods of time. We may need to expend significant resources to protect against security breaches or to address problems caused by breaches. These issues are likely to become more difficult as we expand the number of places where we operate. Security breaches could damage our reputation and expose us to a risk of loss or litigation and possible liability. Our insurance policies carry low coverage limits, which may not be adequate to reimburse us for losses caused by security breaches.
Our users, as well as those of other prominent Internet companies, have been and will continue to be targeted by parties using fraudulent emails to misappropriate passwords, credit card numbers, or other personal information. These emails appear to be legitimate emails sent by eBay or PayPal, but direct recipients to fake websites operated by the sender of the email or request that the recipient send a password or other confidential information via email. We actively pursue the parties responsible for these attempts at misappropriation and encourage our users to divulge sensitive information only after they have verified that they are on our legitimate websites, but we cannot entirely eliminate these types of activities.
|Our business is adversely affected by anything that causes our users to spend less time on their computers, including seasonal factors and national events.
Anything that diverts our users from their customary level of usage of our websites could adversely affect our business. We would therefore be adversely affected by geopolitical events such as war, the threat of war, or terrorist activity. Similarly, our results of operations historically have been seasonal because many of our users reduce their activities on our websites with the onset of good weather during the summer months, and on and around national holidays. We have historically experienced our strongest quarters of online growth in our first and fourth fiscal quarters. PayPal has shown similar seasonality, especially in the fourth fiscal quarter. We expect these patterns of seasonality to become more pronounced as our websites gain acceptance by a broader base of mainstream users and as the size of our European operations, which experience greater seasonality, grows relative to our other operations.
|Our failure to manage growth could harm us.
We are currently expanding our headcount, facilities, and infrastructure in the U.S. and internationally. We anticipate that further expansion will be required to address potential growth in our customer base and number of listings and payment transactions, as well as our expansion into new geographic areas, types of goods, and alternative methods of sale. This expansion has placed, and we expect it will continue to place, a significant strain on our management, operational, and financial resources. The areas that are put under strain by our growth include the following:
|Our Websites. We must constantly add new hardware, update software and add new engineering personnel to accommodate the increased use of our and our subsidiaries websites and the new products
|and features we are regularly introducing. This upgrade process is expensive, and the increased complexity of our websites increases the cost of additional enhancements. If we are unable to upgrade our technology, features, transaction processing systems, security infrastructure, or network infrastructure to accommodate increased traffic or transaction volume, our business could be harmed. Adverse consequences could include unanticipated system disruptions, slower response times, degradation in levels of customer support, impaired quality of users experiences of our services, impaired quality of services for third-party application developers using our externally accessible Application Programming Interface, or API, and delays in reporting accurate financial information. We may be unable to effectively upgrade and expand our systems in a timely manner or to integrate smoothly with our existing systems any newly developed or purchased technologies or businesses. We are in the midst of significant multi-year projects to enhance our current technical architecture. If these projects are not successful, our business could be harmed. We have experienced periodic unscheduled downtime. Continued unscheduled downtime would harm our business and also could anger users of our websites and reduce future revenues.
|Customer Account Billing. Our revenues depend on prompt and accurate billing processes. We are nearing completion of a significant project to enhance our billing software. Problems with the conversion to the new billing system during the first and second quarters of 2004 caused incorrect account balance totals to be displayed for some users. In July 2004, a complaint seeking class action status was filed alleging that eBay improperly billed its users and improperly debited some user accounts. While these problems have been corrected and we believe that no users were overcharged, our failure to grow our transaction-processing capabilities to accommodate the increasing number of transactions that must be billed would harm our business and our ability to collect revenue.
|Customer Support. We are expanding our customer support operations to accommodate the increased number of users and transactions on our websites and the increased level of trust and safety activity we provide worldwide. If we are unable to provide these operations in a cost-effective manner, users of our websites may have negative experiences, current and future revenues could suffer, and our operating margins may decrease.
We must continue to hire, train, and manage new employees at a rapid rate. If our new hires perform poorly, if we are unsuccessful in hiring, training, managing, and integrating these new employees, or if we are not successful in retaining our existing employees, our business may be harmed. To manage the expected growth of our operations and personnel, we will need to improve our transaction processing, operational and financial systems, procedures, and controls. This is a special challenge as we acquire new operations with different systems. Our current and planned personnel, systems, procedures, and controls may not be adequate to support our future operations. The additional headcount and capital investments we are adding increase our cost base, which will make it more difficult for us to offset any future revenue shortfalls by expense reductions in the short term.
|Our business may be harmed if our services are used for illegal purposes.
The law relating to the liability of providers of online services for the activities of their users on their service is currently unsettled in the United States and internationally. We are aware that certain goods, such as weapons, adult material, tobacco products, alcohol, and other goods that may be subject to regulation, have been listed and traded on our service. We may be unable to prevent our users from selling unlawful goods or selling goods in an unlawful manner, and we may be subject to allegations of civil or criminal liability for unlawful activities carried out by users through our service. We have been subject to several lawsuits based upon such allegations. Our Korean subsidiary and one of its employees were recently found criminally liable for a listing on the Korean subsidiarys website. In order to reduce our exposure to this liability, we have prohibited the listing of certain items and increased the number of personnel reviewing questionable items. In the future, we may implement other protective measures that could require us to spend substantial resources or discontinue certain service offerings. Any costs incurred as a result of potential liability relating to the sale of unlawful goods or the unlawful sale of goods could harm our business. In addition, we have received significant and continuing media attention relating to the listing or sale of unlawful goods using our services.
PayPals payment system is also susceptible to potentially illegal or improper uses. These may include illegal online gambling, fraudulent sales of goods or services, illicit sales of prescription medications or controlled substances, piracy of software and other intellectual property, money laundering, bank fraud, child pornography trafficking, prohibited sales of alcoholic beverages or tobacco products, and online securities fraud. Despite measures PayPal has taken to detect and lessen the risk of this kind of conduct, illegal activities may be funded using PayPal.
PayPal is subject to money laundering laws and regulations that prohibit, among other things, its involvement in transferring the proceeds of criminal activities. Although PayPal has adopted a program to comply with these laws and regulations, any errors or failure to implement the program properly could lead to lawsuits, administrative action, and prosecution by the government. In July 2003, PayPal agreed with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri that it would pay $10 million as a civil forfeiture to settle allegations that its provision of services to online gambling merchants violated provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and further agreed to have its compliance program reviewed by an independent audit firm. PayPal is also subject to regulations that require it to report suspicious activities involving transactions of $2,000 or more and may be required to obtain and keep more detailed records on the senders and recipients in certain transfers of $3,000 or more. The interpretation of suspicious activities in this context is uncertain. Future regulations under the USA PATRIOT Act may require PayPal to revise the procedures it uses to verify the identity of its customers and to monitor more closely international transactions. These regulations could impose significant costs on PayPal and make it more difficult for new customers to join its network. PayPal could be required to learn more about its customers before opening an account, to obtain additional verification of international customers and to monitor its customers activities more closely. These requirements, as well as any additional restrictions imposed by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, could raise PayPals costs significantly and reduce the attractiveness of its product. Failure to comply with federal and state money laundering laws could result in significant criminal and civil lawsuits, penalties, and forfeiture of significant assets.
|We are subject to intellectual property and other litigation.
In April 2001, our European subsidiaries, eBay GmbH and eBay International AG, were sued by Montres Rolex S.A. and certain of its affiliates in the regional court of Cologne, Germany. The suit subsequently was transferred to the regional court in Dusseldorf, Germany. Rolex alleged that our subsidiaries were infringing Rolexs trademarks as a result of users selling counterfeit Rolex watches through our German website. The suit also alleged unfair competition. Rolex sought an order forbidding the sale of Rolex-branded watches on the website as well as damages. In December 2002, a trial was held in the matter and the court ruled in favor of eBay on all causes of action. Rolex appealed the ruling to the Higher Regional Court of Dusseldorf, and the appeal was heard in October 2003. On February 26, 2004, the court rejected Rolexs appeal and ruled in our favor. If it so chooses, Rolex may appeal the ruling to the German Federal Supreme Court. On March 11, 2004, the German Federal Supreme Court ruled in favor of Rolex in a case involving an unrelated company, ricardo.de AG, but somewhat comparable legal theories. The court has not released its full decision, and we cannot yet assess the impact of this case on Rolexs appeal of its case against us.
In September 2001, a complaint was filed by MercExchange LLC against us, our Half.com subsidiary and ReturnBuy, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (No. 2:01-CV-736) alleging infringement of three patents (relating to online auction technology, multiple database searching and electronic consignment systems) and seeking a permanent injunction and damages (including treble damages for willful infringement). In October 2002, the court granted in part our summary judgment motion, effectively invalidating the patent related to online auction technology and rendering it unenforceable. This ruling left only two patents in the case. Trial of the matter began in April 2003. In May 2003, the jury returned a verdict finding that eBay had willfully infringed one and Half.com had willfully infringed both of the patents in the suit, awarding $35.0 million in compensatory damages. Both parties filed post-trial motions, and in August 2003, the court entered judgment for MercExchange in the amount of $29.5 million, plus pre-
In August 2002, Charles E. Hill & Associates, Inc. filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (No. 2:02-CV-186) alleging that we and 17 other companies, primarily large retailers, infringed three patents owned by Hill generally relating to electronic catalog systems and methods for transmitting and updating data at a remote computer. The suit seeks an injunction against continuing infringement, unspecified damages, including treble damages for willful infringement, and interest, costs, expenses, and fees. In January 2003, the case was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. After pending in Indiana for almost a year, the case was transferred back to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in December 2003. We are currently awaiting the judges scheduling order in the case. We believe that we have meritorious defenses and intend to defend ourselves vigorously.
In February 2002, PayPal was sued in California state court (No. CV-805433) in a purported class action alleging that its restriction of customer accounts and failure to promptly unrestrict legitimate accounts violates California state consumer protection laws and is an unfair business practice and a breach of PayPals User Agreement. This action was re-filed with a different named plaintiff in June 2002 (No. CV-808441), and a related action was also filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in June 2002 (No. C-02-2777). In March 2002, PayPal was sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (No. C-02-1227) in a purported class action alleging that its restrictions of customer accounts and failure to promptly unrestrict legitimate accounts violates federal and state consumer protection and unfair business practice laws. The two federal court actions have been consolidated into a single case, and the state court action has been stayed pending developments in the federal case. On June 14, 2004, the parties announced that they had reached a proposed settlement. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, certain PayPal account holders will be eligible to receive payment from a settlement fund in accordance with the preliminary settlements plan of allocation. The settlement fund, which will be funded by PayPal, will total $9.25 million, less administrative costs and any amount awarded to plaintiffs counsel by the court, which was fully accrued in our consolidated income statement for the year ended December 31, 2003. In the proposed settlement, PayPal does not acknowledge that any of the allegations in the case are true. The proposed settlement has been preliminarily approved by the federal court, but remains subject to final court approval. If the proposed settlement is approved by the federal court, all claims of the class in both the federal and state actions will be dismissed.
In November 2003, AT&T Corporation filed a lawsuit against eBay and PayPal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (No. 03-1051) alleging infringement of a patent entitled Mediation of Transactions by a Communication System. AT&T claimed that PayPals and Billpoints payment services infringe its patent. In December 2003, eBay and PayPal answered the complaint, denied infringement of AT&Ts patent, and filed counterclaims. On July 21, 2004, AT&T, eBay and PayPal reached agreement and entered into a Stipulated Order of Dismissal regarding their patent infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Delaware. The parties have agreed to keep the details of their arrangement confidential. We do not believe that the terms of the agreement will have a material impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Other third parties have from time to time claimed, and others may claim in the future, that we have infringed their intellectual property rights. We have been notified of several potential patent disputes, and expect that we will increasingly be subject to patent infringement claims as our services expand in scope and complexity. In particular, we expect to face additional patent infringement claims involving services we
From time to time, we are involved in other disputes that arise in the ordinary course of business. The number and significance of these disputes is increasing as our business expands and our company grows larger. Any claims against us, whether meritorious or not, could be time consuming, result in costly litigation, require significant amounts of management time, and result in the diversion of significant operational resources.
|Government inquiries may lead to charges or penalties.
In January 1999, we received initial requests to produce certain records and information to the federal government relating to an investigation of possible illegal transactions in connection with our websites. We were informed that the inquiry includes an examination of our practices with respect to these transactions. We have continued to provide further information in connection with this ongoing inquiry. In order to protect the investigation, the court has ordered that no further public disclosures be made with respect to the matter. Should this or any other investigation lead to civil or criminal charges against us, we would likely be harmed by negative publicity, the cost of litigation, the diversion of management time, and any fines or penalties assessed.
A large number of transactions occur on our websites. We believe that government regulators have received a substantial number of consumer complaints about both eBay and PayPal, which, while small as a percentage of our total transactions, are large in aggregate numbers. As a result, we have from time to time been contacted by various foreign and domestic governmental regulatory agencies that have questions about our operations and the steps we take to protect our users from fraud. Both eBay and PayPal are likely to receive additional inquiries from regulatory agencies in the future, which may lead to action against either company. We have responded to all inquiries from regulatory agencies by describing our current and planned antifraud efforts, customer support procedures and operating procedures. If one or more of these agencies is not satisfied with our response to current or future inquiries, we could be subject to fines or other penalties, or forced to change our operating practices in ways that could harm our business.
We are subject to laws relating to the use and transfer of personally identifiable information about our users and their transfers, especially outside of the U.S. Violation of these laws, which in many cases apply not only to third-party transfers but also to transfers of information between ourselves and our subsidiaries, and between ourselves, our subsidiaries, and other parties with which we have commercial relations, could subject us to significant penalties and negative publicity and could adversely affect us.
|Our business may be harmed by the listing or sale by our users of pirated or counterfeit items.
We have received in the past, and we anticipate receiving in the future, communications alleging that certain items listed or sold through our service by our users infringe third-party copyrights, trademarks and trade names, or other intellectual property rights. Although we have sought to work actively with the content community to eliminate infringing listings on our websites, some content owners have expressed the view that our efforts are insufficient. Content owners have been active in defending their rights against online companies, including eBay. Allegations of infringement of intellectual property rights have resulted in litigation against us from time to time, including litigation brought by Tiffany & Co. in the U.S., Rolex S.A. in Germany and several content owners. Such litigation is costly for us, could result in increased costs of doing business through adverse judgment or settlement, could require us to change our business practices in expensive ways, or could otherwise harm our business. Litigation against other online companies could result in interpretations of the law that could also require us to change our business practices or otherwise increase our costs.
|We are subject to risks associated with information disseminated through our service.
The law relating to the liability of online services companies for information carried on or disseminated through their services is currently unsettled. Claims could be made against online services companies under both U.S. and foreign law for defamation, libel, invasion of privacy, negligence, copyright or trademark infringement, or other theories based on the nature and content of the materials disseminated through their services. Several private lawsuits seeking to impose liability upon us under a number of these theories have been brought against us. In addition, domestic and foreign legislation has been proposed that would prohibit or impose liability for the transmission over the Internet of certain types of information. Our service features a Feedback Forum, which includes information from users regarding other users. Although all such feedback is generated by users and not by us, claims of defamation or other injury have been made in the past and could be made in the future against us for content posted in the Feedback Forum. Several recent court decisions have narrowed the scope of the immunity provided to Internet service providers like us under the Communications Decency Act. This trend, if continued, may increase our potential liability to third parties for the user-provided content on our site. Our liability for such claims may be higher in jurisdictions outside the U.S. where laws governing Internet transactions are unsettled. If we become liable for information provided by our users and carried on our service in any jurisdiction in which we operate, we could be directly harmed and we may be forced to implement new measures to reduce our exposure to this liability. This may require us to expend substantial resources or to discontinue certain service offerings, which would negatively affect our financial results. In addition, the increased attention focused upon liability issues as a result of these lawsuits and legislative proposals could harm our reputation or otherwise impact the growth of our business. Any costs incurred as a result of this potential liability could harm our business.
|Customer complaints or negative publicity about our customer service could diminish use of our services adversely and, as a result, our business could suffer.
Customer complaints or negative publicity about our customer service could severely diminish consumer confidence in and use of our services. Breaches of our customers privacy and our security measures could have the same effect. Measures we sometimes take to combat risks of fraud and breaches of privacy and security can damage relations with our customers. These measures heighten the need for prompt and accurate customer service to resolve irregularities and disputes. Effective customer service requires significant personnel expense, and this expense, if not managed properly, could impact our profitability significantly. Failure to manage or train our customer service representatives properly could compromise our ability to handle customer complaints effectively. If we do not handle customer complaints effectively, our reputation may suffer and we may lose our customers confidence.
Because it is providing a financial service and operating in a more regulated environment, PayPal, unlike eBay, must provide telephone as well as email customer service and must resolve certain customer contacts within shorter time frames. PayPal has in the past received negative publicity with respect to its customer service and is the subject of purported class action lawsuits and state attorney general inquiries alleging, among other things, failure to resolve promptly certain account restrictions. If PayPal is unable to provide quality customer support operations in a cost-effective manner, PayPals users may have negative experiences, PayPal may receive additional negative publicity and its ability to attract new customers may be damaged. Current and future revenues could suffer, or its operating margins may decrease. In addition, negative publicity about or experiences with PayPals customer support could cause eBays reputation to suffer or affect consumer confidence in eBay as a whole.
|Acquisitions could result in operating difficulties, dilution and other harmful consequences.
We have acquired a number of businesses, including our acquisitions of Half.com, Internet Auction, iBazar, NeoCom, PayPal, CARad, EachNet, and FairMarket. On April 1, 2004, we completed our acquisition of mobile.de, a German classified advertising vehicle-listing website, and on August 2, 2004 we completed our acquisition of Baazee.com, an online marketplace in India. We expect to continue to evaluate and consider a wide array of potential strategic transactions, including business combinations, acquisitions and dispositions of businesses, technologies, services, products and other assets, including interests in our existing subsidiaries and
|diversion of management time, as well as a shift of focus from operating the businesses to issues of integration and future products;
|declining employee morale and retention issues resulting from changes in compensation, reporting relationships, future prospects, or the direction of the business;
|the need to integrate each companys accounting, management information, human resource and other administrative systems to permit effective management, and the lack of control if such integration is delayed or not implemented;
|the need to implement controls, procedures and policies appropriate for a larger public company at companies that prior to acquisition had lacked such controls, procedures and policies; and
|in some cases, the need to transition operations onto the existing eBay platform.
Foreign acquisitions involve special risks, including those related to integration of operations across different cultures and languages, currency risks, and the particular economic, political, and regulatory risks associated with specific countries. Moreover, we may not realize the anticipated benefits of any or all of our acquisitions. As a result of future acquisitions or mergers, we might need to issue additional equity securities, spend our cash, or incur debt, contingent liabilities, or amortization expenses related to intangible assets, any of which could reduce our profitability and harm our business.
|System failures could harm our business.
Any interruption in the availability of our websites will reduce our revenues and profits, and our future revenues and profits could be harmed if our users believe that our system is unreliable. Although our systems have been designed around industry-standard architectures to reduce downtime in the event of outages or catastrophic occurrences, they remain vulnerable to damage or interruption from earthquakes, floods, fires, power loss, telecommunication failures, terrorist attacks, computer viruses, computer denial-of-service attacks, and similar events. Some of our systems, including PayPals customer support operations, are not fully redundant, and our disaster recovery planning is not sufficient for all eventualities. Our systems are also subject to break-ins, sabotage, intentional acts of vandalism, and potential disruption if the operators of these facilities have financial difficulties. Despite any precautions we may take, the occurrence of a natural disaster, a decision by any of our third-party hosting providers to close a facility we use without adequate notice for financial or other reasons, or other unanticipated problems at our hosting facilities could result in lengthy interruptions in our services. In addition, the failure by our hosting facilities to provide our required data communications capacity could result in interruptions in our service. We do not carry business interruption insurance sufficient to compensate us for losses that may result from interruptions in our service as a result of system failures.
We have experienced system failures from time to time. eBays primary website has been interrupted for periods of up to 22 hours. In addition to placing increased burdens on our engineering staff, these outages create a large number of user questions and complaints that need to be addressed by our customer support personnel. Any unscheduled interruption in our services results in an immediate loss of revenues that can be substantial and may cause some users to switch to our competitors. If we experience frequent or persistent system failures on our websites, our reputation and brands could be permanently harmed. We have been taking steps to increase the reliability and redundancy of our systems. These steps are expensive, reduce our margins, and may not be successful in reducing the frequency or duration of unscheduled downtime.
Our infrastructure could prove unable to handle a larger volume of customer transactions. Any failure to accommodate transaction growth could impair customer satisfaction, lead to a loss of customers, impair our ability to add customers, or increase our costs, all of which would harm our business.
Because our customers may use our products for critical transactions, any errors, defects, or other infrastructure problems could result in damage to our customers businesses. These customers could seek significant compensation from us for their losses. Even if unsuccessful, this type of claim likely would be time consuming and costly for us to address.
|Our stock price has been and may continue to be extremely volatile.
The trading price of our common stock has been and is likely to be extremely volatile and could fluctuate in response to a variety of factors, including the following:
|actual or anticipated variations in our quarterly operating results;
|unscheduled system downtime;
|additions or departures of key personnel;
|announcements of technological innovations or new services by us or our competitors;
|changes in, or failure to meet, financial estimates by securities analysts;
|initiation of or developments in litigation affecting us;
|conditions or trends in the Internet and online commerce industries;
|changes in the market valuations of other Internet companies;
|developments in regulation;
|announcements by us or our competitors of significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, new products or capital commitments;
|unanticipated economic or political events;
|sales of our common stock or other securities in the open market; and
|other events or factors, including those described in this Risk Factors That May Affect Results of Operations and Financial Condition section and others that may be beyond our control.
The trading prices of Internet stocks in general, and ours in particular, have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations in recent periods. These fluctuations often have been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of these companies. The valuation of our stock remains extraordinarily high based on conventional valuation standards such as price-to-earnings and price-to-sales ratios. The trading price of our common stock has increased enormously from our initial public offering price and from our stock price during 2002 and early 2003. This trading price and valuation may not be sustained. Negative changes in the publics perception of the prospects of Internet or e-commerce or technology companies have in the past and may in the future depress our stock price regardless of our results. Other broad market and industry factors may decrease the market price of our common stock, regardless of our operating performance. Market fluctuations, as well as general political and economic conditions, such as recession or interest rate or currency rate fluctuations, also may decrease the market price of our common stock. Securities class-action litigation is often instituted following declines in the market price of a companys securities. Litigation of this type could result in substantial costs and a diversion of managements attention and resources.
|Problems with third parties who provide services to our users could harm us.
A number of parties provide services to our users that indirectly benefit us. Such services include seller tools that automate and manage listings, merchant tools that manage listings and interface with inventory management software, storefronts that help our users list items, and other services. In some cases we have
|Other companies or governmental agencies may view our behavior as anti-competitive.
Other companies have in the past and may in the future allege that our actions violate the antitrust or competition laws of the U.S. or other countries, or otherwise constitute unfair competition. Such claims typically are very expensive to defend, involve negative publicity and diversion of management time and effort, and could result in significant judgments against us.
We provided information to the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with an inquiry into our conduct with respect to auction aggregators, including our licensing program and a previously settled lawsuit against Bidders Edge. Although the Antitrust Division has closed this inquiry, if the Department of Justice or any other antitrust agency were to open other investigations of our activities, we would likely be harmed by negative publicity, the costs of the action, possible private antitrust lawsuits, the diversion of management time and effort, and penalties we might suffer if we ultimately were not to prevail.
|We depend on the continued growth of online commerce.
The business of selling goods over the Internet, particularly through online trading, is dynamic and relatively new. Acceptance of and growth in use of the Internet as a medium for consumer commerce may not continue. Concerns about fraud, privacy, and other problems may discourage additional consumers from adopting the Internet as a medium of commerce. In particular, our websites require users to make publicly available personal information that some potential users may be unwilling to provide. These concerns may increase as additional publicity over privacy issues on eBay or generally over the Internet increase. Market acceptance for recently introduced services and products over the Internet is highly uncertain, and there are few proven services and products. In order to expand our user base, we must appeal to and acquire consumers who historically have used traditional means of commerce to purchase goods. If these consumers prove to be less active than our earlier users, and we are unable to gain efficiencies in our operating costs, including our cost of acquiring new customers, our business could be adversely impacted.
|We depend on key personnel.
Our future performance depends substantially on the continued services of our senior management and other key personnel and our ability to retain and motivate them. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers or other key employees could harm our business. We do not have long-term employment agreements with any of our key personnel, we do not maintain any key person life insurance policies, and our Chief Executive Officer has fully vested the vast majority of her equity incentives. Our new businesses all depend on attracting and retaining key personnel. Our future success also will depend on our ability to attract, train, retain and motivate highly skilled technical, managerial, marketing, and customer support personnel. Competition for these personnel is intense, and we may be unable to successfully attract, integrate, or retain sufficiently qualified personnel. In making employment decisions, particularly in the Internet and high-technology industries, job candidates often consider the value of the stock options they are to receive in connection with their employment. Fluctuations in our stock price may make it more difficult to retain and motivate employees whose stock option strike prices are substantially above current market prices.
|Our industry is intensely competitive.
We currently or potentially compete with a number of companies providing both particular categories of goods and broader ranges of goods. The Internet provides new, rapidly evolving and intensely competitive
Our broad-based competitors include the vast majority of traditional department, warehouse, discount, and general merchandise stores, emerging online retailers, online classified services, and other shopping channels such as offline and online home shopping networks. These include most prominently: Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, Sears, Macys, JC Penney, Costco, Office Depot, Staples, OfficeMax, Sams Club, Amazon.com, Buy.com, AOL.com, Yahoo! Shopping, MSN, QVC, and Home Shopping Network/ HSN.com. A number of companies have launched a variety of services that provide new channels for buyers to find and buy items from sellers of all sizes. For example, sites such as Buy.com, DealTime, Googles Froogle, MySimon.com, Nextag.com, and Yahoo! Product Search offer shopping search engines that allow consumers to search the Internet for specified products. Similarly, sellers are increasingly acquiring new customers by paying for search-related advertisements on search engine sites. We use product search engines and paid search advertising to channel users to our sites, but these services also have the potential to divert users to other online shopping destinations.
We also face competition from local, regional, and national specialty retailers and exchanges in each of our categories of products. Many competitors have been successful at establishing marketplaces that cater to a particular retail category, such as vehicles, tickets, or sporting goods. Additional category-specific competitors include:
Antiques and Art: Bonhams & Butterfields, Christies, Sothebys, Ruby Lane, Tias, Allposters.com, Artnet, Art.com, Barewalls.com, Guild.com, other regional auction houses, antique and art dealers and galleries, antique and collectible fairs, and estate sales;
Automotive (used cars and parts): Advance Auto Parts, AutoByTel.com, Autonation.com, AutoPartsPlace, AutoTrader.com, Autozone, Barons Ltd., Barrett-Jackson, California Classics, Car Parts Wholesale, Car-Part.com, CarMax, Cars.com, CarsDirect.com, Collectorcartraderonline.com, CSK Auto, Dealix, Discount Auto Parts, Dupont Registry, eClassics.com, ExpressAutoparts.com, General Parts (Carquest), Genuine/ NAPA, Hemmings, iMotors.com, JC Whitney, Kragen, Kruse International, OpenAuto.com, PartsAmerica.com, RM Auctions, Inc., The Tire Rack, TraderOnline, Trader Publishing, newspaper classifieds, used car dealers, swap meets, car clubs, and vehicle recyclers;
Books, Movies, Music: Abebooks.com, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Barnesandnoble.com, Alibris.com, Blockbuster, BMG, Columbia House, Best Buy, CDNow, Express.com, Emusic.com, and Tower Records/ Tower Records.com;
Business-to-Business: Ariba, BidFreight.com, Bid4Assets, BizBuyer.com, bLiquid.com, Buyer Zone, CloseOutNow.com, Commerce One, Concur Technologies, DoveBid, FreeMarkets, Iron Planet, labx.com, Oracle, Overstock.com, PurchasePro.com, RicardoBiz.com, Sabre, SurplusBin.com, Ventro, and VerticalNet;
Clothing and Accessories: Abercrombie.com, AE.com, Amazon.com, Bluefly.com, Coldwater-Creek.com, Delias.com, Dockers.com, Eddie Bauer, The Gap, Gap Online sites, J. Crew, JCrew.com, LandsEnd.com, The Limited, LLBean.com, Macys, The Mens Wearhouse, Overstock.com, Payless.com, Ross, Urbanq.com, VictoriasSecret.com, and Yoox.com;
Coins and Stamps: Collectors Universe, Heritage, US Mint, US Postal Service, Shop At Home, Bowers and Morena, auction houses, and independent coin and stamp dealers;
Collectibles: Collectiblestoday.com, Franklin Mint, Go Collect, Heritage, Mastronet, Replacements.com, Ruby Lane, Tias, antique and collectible dealers, antique and collectible fairs, flea markets and swap meets, specialty retailers, and regional auction houses;
Computers & Consumer Electronics: Amazon.com, Best Buy, Buy.com, Circuit City, CNET, CompUSA, Computer Discount Warehouse, Dell, Electronics Boutique, Frys Electronics, Gamestop, Gateway, The Good Guys, Hewlett Packard, IBM, MicroWarehouse, PC Connection, PCMall.com, Radio
Home & Garden: Acehardware.com, Truevalue.com, IKEA, Crate & Barrel, Home Depot, Williams-Sonoma Inc. (Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma), Bed, Bath & Beyond, Lowes, Linens n Things, Pier One, Ethan Allen, Frontgate, Burpee.com, Spiegel, TJ Max, Tuesday Morning, and Kohls;
Jewelry & Watches: Amazon.com, Bluenile.com, Diamond.com, Ice.com, Macys, Mondera.com, HSN.com, QVC.com, Wal-Mart.com, and Zales;
Musical Instruments: Guitar Center/ Musicians Friend, Sam Ash, Gbase.com, Harmony-Central.com, and musical instrument retailers and manufacturers;
Pottery & Glass: Just Glass, Pottery Auction, Go Collect, Pier 1 Imports, Williams-Sonoma, Replacements.com, Ruby Lane, Tias, antique and collectible dealers, antique and collectible fairs, flea markets and swap meets, specialty retailers, and regional auction houses;
Sporting Goods & Fan Shop: Academy Sports, Amazon.com, Bass Pro Shops, Big 5, Cabelas, Dicks Sporting Goods, GSI Commerce, GolfClubExchange.com, Golfsmith, Performance Bike, Play It Again Sports, REI, The Sports Authority, SportsLine.com, and TGW.com and Wal-Mart;
Sports Cards & Memorabilia: Becketts, Dreams Inc./ Mounted Memories, MastroNet, Lelands, NAXCOM, ThePit.com, Steiner Sports, Superior Sports, Tristar Productions, Upper Deck, hobby shops, and discount retailers;
Tickets and Experiences: Craigslist, Musictoday, Paciolan, RazorGator.com, SCI Ticketing, StubHub, Ticketmaster, Tickets.com, TicketsNow.com, and ticket brokers;
Tool/ Equipment/ Hardware: Home Depot, HomeBase, Amazon.com, Ace Hardware, OSH, Do-It-Best Hardware, and True Value Hardware; and
Toys and Hobbies: Toys R Us, Amazon.com/ Toysrus.com, KB Toys/ KBToys.com, FAO Inc. (FAO Schwarz, Zany Brainy, the Right Start), and Wal-Mart.
Our international websites compete with similar online and offline channels in each of their vertical categories in most countries. In addition, they compete with general online e-commerce sites, such as Quelle and Otto in Germany, Yahoo-Kimo in Taiwan, Daum in South Korea, TaoBao and a partnership between Sina.com and Yahoo! in China, and Amazon in the U.K. and other countries. In some of these countries, there are online sites that have much larger customer bases and greater brand recognition than we do, and in each of these countries there are competitors that have a better understanding of local culture and commerce than we do.
The principal competitive factors for eBay include the following:
|ability to attract buyers and sellers;
|volume of transactions and price and selection of goods;
|customer service; and
With respect to our online competition, additional competitive factors include:
|community cohesion and interaction;
|reliability of delivery and payment;
|website convenience and accessibility;
|level of service fees; and
|quality of search tools.
Some current and potential competitors have longer company operating histories, larger customer bases and greater brand recognition in other business and Internet sectors than we do. Some of these competitors also have significantly greater financial, marketing, technical and other resources. Other online trading services may be acquired by, receive investments from, or enter into other commercial relationships with larger, well-established and well-financed companies. As a result, some of our competitors with other revenue sources may be able to devote more resources to marketing and promotional campaigns, adopt more aggressive pricing policies and devote substantially more resources to website and systems development than we can. Some of our competitors have offered services for free and others may do this as well. We may be unable to compete successfully against current and future competitors. In addition, certain offline competitors may encourage manufacturers to limit or cease distribution of their products to dealers who sell through online channels such as eBay, or may attempt to use existing or future government regulation to prohibit or limit online commerce in certain categories of goods or services. The adoption by manufacturers or government authorities of policies or regulations discouraging the sales of goods or services over the Internet could force eBay users to stop selling certain products on our websites. Increased competition or anti-Internet distribution policies or regulations may result in reduced operating margins, loss of market share and diminished value of our brand.
In order to respond to changes in the competitive environment, we may, from time to time, make pricing, service or marketing decisions or acquisitions that could harm our business. For example, we have implemented a buyer protection program that generally insures items up to a value of $200, with a $25 deductible, for users with a non-negative feedback rating at no cost to the user, and PayPal implemented a similar buyer protection program covering losses from selected eBay sellers up to $500, with no deductible. In addition, certain competitors may offer or continue to offer free shipping or other transaction related services, which could be impractical or inefficient for eBay users to match. New technologies may increase the competitive pressures by enabling our competitors to offer a lower cost service.
Although we have established Internet traffic arrangements with several large online services and search engine companies, these arrangements may not be renewed on commercially reasonable terms or these companies may decide to promote competitive services. Even if these arrangements are renewed, they may not result in increased usage of our service. In addition, companies that control user access to transactions through network access, Internet browsers, or search engines, could promote our competitors, channel current or potential users to their vertically integrated electronic commerce sites or their advertisers sites, attempt to restrict our access, or charge us substantial fees for inclusion.
The market for PayPals product is emerging, intensely competitive, and characterized by rapid technological change. PayPal competes with existing online and off-line payment methods, including, among others:
|credit card merchant processors that offer their services to online merchants, including First Data, Paymentech, Wells Fargo, and iPayment; and payment gateways, including CyberSource, VeriSign, and Authorize.net;
|Western Union Auction Payments at BidPay.com and Western Union MoneyZap. Western Union is a subsidiary of First Data;
|Yahoo! PayDirect offered by Yahoo! and HSBC;
|current and announced payment services offered by Amazon.com;
|processors that provide online merchants the ability to offer their customers the option of paying for purchases from their bank account, including Certegy and TeleCheck, a subsidiary of First Data, or to pay on credit, including Bill Me Later from I4 Commerce and CIT Bank;
|providers of traditional payment methods, particularly credit cards, checks, money orders, and Automated Clearing House transactions; and
|issuers of stored value targeted at online payments, including AT&T WebCents and VisaBuxx.
Some of these competitors have longer operating histories, significantly greater financial, technical, marketing, customer service and other resources, greater name recognition, or a larger base of customers in affiliated businesses than PayPal. PayPals competitors may respond to new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements faster and more effectively than PayPal. They may devote greater resources to the development, promotion, and sale of products and services than PayPal, and they may offer lower prices. Some of these competitors have offered, and may continue to offer, their services for free in order to gain market share, and PayPal may be forced to lower its prices in response. Competing services tied to established banks and other financial institutions may offer greater liquidity and engender greater consumer confidence in the safety and efficacy of their services than PayPal. If these competitors acquired significant market share, this could result in PayPal losing market share.
PayPals service relies on the credit card networks, the Automated Clearing House network in the U.S., and similar bank clearing networks overseas. Associations of traditional financial institutions such as Visa, MasterCard and the National Automated Clearing House Association, or NACHA, generally set the features of these payment methods. Changes in these associations rules could negatively affect PayPals competitive position.
Overseas, PayPal faces competition from similar channels and payment methods in most countries and from regional and national online and offline competitors in each country including Visas Visa Direct, MasterCards MoneySend, INGs Way2Pay and Royal Bank of Scotlands World Pay in the European Community, NOCHEX, Moneybookers, and Royal Bank of Scotlands FastPay in the U.K., CertaPay and HyperWallet in Canada, Paymate in Australia and Inicis in South Korea. In addition, in certain countries, such as Germany, electronic funds transfer is a leading method of payment for both online and offline transactions. As in the U.S., established banks and other financial institutions that do not currently offer online payments could quickly and easily develop such a service. Since July 2003, financial institutions in the European Union have been restricted from charging customers higher fees for many cross-border Euro payments than they charge for domestic Euro payments. This development could increase the effectiveness of using traditional financial institutions instead of PayPal for European customers seeking to complete cross-border payments.
|Our business depends on the development and maintenance of the Internet infrastructure.
The success of our service will depend largely on the development and maintenance of the Internet infrastructure. This includes maintenance of a reliable network backbone with the necessary speed, data capacity, and security, as well as timely development of complementary products, for providing reliable Internet access and services. The Internet has experienced, and is likely to continue to experience, significant growth in the numbers of users and amount of traffic. The Internet infrastructure may be unable to support such demands. In addition, the performance of the Internet may be harmed by increased number of users or bandwidth requirements or by viruses, worms, and similar programs. The backbone computers of the Internet have been the targets of such programs. The Internet has experienced a variety of outages and other delays as a result of damage to portions of its infrastructure, and it could face outages and delays in the future. These outages and delays could reduce the level of Internet usage as well as the level of traffic and the processing transactions on our service.
|We must keep pace with rapid technological change to remain competitive.
Our competitive arena is characterized by rapidly changing technology, evolving industry standards, frequent new service and product introductions and enhancements, and changing customer demands. These characteristics are caused in part by the emerging and changing nature of the Internet. Our future success therefore will depend on our ability to adapt to rapidly changing technologies and evolving industry standards and to improve the performance, features, and reliability of our service. Our failure to adapt to such changes would harm our business. New technologies, such as the development of a peer-to-peer personal trading technology, could adversely affect us. In addition, the widespread adoption of new Internet, networking, or telecommunications technologies or other technological changes could require us to make substantial expenditures to modify or adapt our services or infrastructure.
|We need to develop new services, features, and functions in order to expand.
We plan to expand our operations by developing new or complementary services, products, or transaction formats and expanding the breadth and depth of our pre-trade and post-trade services. We may be unable to expand our operations in a cost-effective or timely manner. We are pursuing strategic relationships with other companies to provide many of these services. As a result, we may be unable to control the quality of these services or address problems that arise. Expanding our operations in this manner also will require significant additional expenses and development, operations and other resources and will strain our management, financial and operational resources. The lack of acceptance of any new businesses or services could harm our business, damage our reputation, and diminish the value of our brand.
|Our growth will depend on our ability to develop our brands.
We believe that our historical growth has been largely attributable to word of mouth. Both eBay and PayPal have benefited from frequent and high visibility media exposure both nationally and locally. We believe that continuing to strengthen our brands will be critical to achieving widespread acceptance of our services. Promoting and positioning our brands will depend largely on the success of our marketing efforts and our ability to provide high-quality services. In order to promote our brands, we will need to increase our marketing budget and otherwise increase our financial commitment to creating and maintaining brand loyalty among users. Brand promotion activities may not yield increased revenues, and even if they do, any increased revenues may not offset the expenses we incurred in building our brands. If we do attract new users to our services, they may not conduct transactions over our services on a regular basis. If we fail to promote and maintain our brands or incur substantial expenses in an unsuccessful attempt to promote and maintain our brands, our business would be harmed.
|We may be unable to protect or enforce our own intellectual property rights adequately.
We regard the protection of our trademarks, copyrights, patents, domain names, trade dress, and trade secrets as critical to our success. We aggressively protect our intellectual property rights by relying on a combination of trademark, copyright, patent, trade dress and trade secret laws, and through the domain name dispute resolution system. We also rely on contractual restrictions to protect our proprietary rights in products and services. We have entered into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and contractors, and nondisclosure agreements with parties with whom we conduct business in order to limit access to and disclosure of our proprietary information. These contractual arrangements and the other steps we have taken to protect our intellectual property may not prevent misappropriation of our technology or deter independent development of similar technologies by others. We pursue the registration of our domain names, trademarks, and service marks in the U.S. and internationally. Effective trademark, copyright, patent, trade dress, trade secret, and domain name protection is very expensive to maintain and may require litigation. We must protect our trademarks, patents, and domain names in an increasing number of jurisdictions, a process that is expensive and may not be successful in every location. We have licensed in the past, and expect to license in the future, certain of our proprietary rights, such as trademarks or copyrighted material, to others. These licensees may take actions that diminish the value of our proprietary rights or harm our reputation.
|We are subject to the risks of owning real property.
We own real property including land, buildings, and interests in a partnership holding land and buildings, primarily related to our operations. We have little experience in managing real property. Ownership of this property subjects us to risks, including:
|the possibility of environmental contamination and the costs associated with fixing any environmental problems;
|adverse changes in the value of these properties, due to interest rate changes, changes in the neighborhoods in which the properties are located, or other factors;
|the possible need for structural improvements in order to comply with zoning, seismic, disability act, or other requirements; and
|possible disputes with tenants, neighboring owners, or others.
|Some anti-takeover provisions may affect the price of our common stock.
Our Board of Directors has the authority to issue up to 10,000,000 shares of preferred stock and to determine the preferences, rights and privileges of those shares without any further vote or action by the stockholders. The rights of the holders of common stock may be harmed by the rights of the holders of any preferred stock that may be issued in the future. Some provisions of our certificate of incorporation and bylaws could have the effect of making it more difficult for a potential acquiror to acquire a majority of our outstanding voting stock. These include provisions that provide for a classified board of directors, prohibit stockholders from taking action by written consent and restrict the ability of stockholders to call special meetings. We are also subject to provisions of Delaware law that prohibit us from engaging in any business combination with any interested stockholder for a period of three years from the date the person became an interested stockholder, unless certain conditions are met. This restriction could have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION
We are a reporting company and file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. You may read and copy these reports, proxy statements and other information at the SECs public reference rooms at 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20549. Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for more information about the operation of the public reference rooms. Our SEC filings are also available at the SECs web site at http://www.sec.gov or you can view them by visiting our investor relations website at http://investor.ebay.com/edgar.cfm.
INCORPORATION OF DOCUMENTS BY REFERENCE
The SEC allows us to incorporate by reference information that we file with them, which means that we can disclose important information to you by referring you to those documents. The information incorporated by reference is an important part of this prospectus, and information that we file later with the SEC will automatically update and supersede this information. We incorporate by reference the documents listed below and any future filings we will make with the SEC under Section 13(a), 13(c), 14 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended or the Exchange Act:
|Our latest Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2003, filed on March 8, 2004 (File No. 000-24821), filed pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act.
|Our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended March 31, 2004, filed on May 10, 2004 (File No. 000-24821) and for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2004, filed on August 4, 2004 (File No. 000-24821).
|Our Current Reports on Form 8-K, filed on January 21, 2004 (File No. 000-24821), April 21, 2004 (File No. 000-24821) and July 21, 2004 (File No. 000-24821).
|The description of our common stock which is contained in our Registration Statement on Form 8-A, filed August 20, 1998 (File No. 000-24821), under the Exchange Act, including any amendment or report filed for the purpose of updating such description.
You may request a copy of these filings at no cost, by writing or telephoning us at the following address:
This prospectus is part of a registration statement we filed with the SEC. You should rely only on the information incorporated by reference or provided in this prospectus and the registration statement. We have authorized no one to provide you with different information. You should not assume that the information in this prospectus is accurate as of any date other than the date on the front of the document.
DISTRIBUTION OF SECURITIES
The shares of our common stock covered by this prospectus are available for our use in acquiring businesses, assets or securities. The consideration we offer in such acquisitions, in addition to any shares of common stock offered by this prospectus, may include cash, assets, debt or other securities, that may be convertible into shares of our common stock covered by this prospectus, or our assumption of liabilities of the businesses, assets or securities being acquired, or a combination. The amount and type of consideration we will offer and the other specific terms of each acquisition will be determined by negotiations with the owners or the persons who control the businesses, assets or securities to be acquired after taking into account the current and anticipated future value of such businesses, assets or securities, along with all other relevant factors. The shares of common stock issued to the owners of the businesses, assets or securities to be acquired are normally valued at a price reasonably related to the market value of such common stock either at the time an agreement is reached regarding the terms of the acquisition or upon delivery of the shares.
We may permit individuals or entities who have received or will receive shares of our common stock in connection with the acquisitions described above, or their transferees or successors-in-interest, to use this prospectus to cover the resale of such shares. See Selling Stockholders, as it may be amended or supplemented from time to time, for a list of those individuals or entities that are authorized to use this prospectus to sell their shares of our common stock.
The selling stockholders listed in any supplement to this prospectus, and any transferee or successors-in-interest to those persons, may from time to time offer and sell, pursuant to this prospectus, some or all of the shares covered by this prospectus.
Resales by selling stockholders may be made directly to investors or through a securities firm acting as an underwriter, broker or dealer. When resales are to be made through a securities firm, such securities firm may be engaged to act as the selling stockholders agent in the sale of the shares by such selling stockholder, or the securities firm may purchase shares from the selling stockholders as principal and thereafter resell such shares from time to time. The fees earned by or paid to such securities firm may be the normal stock exchange commission or negotiated commissions or underwriting discounts to the extent permissible. In addition, such securities firm may effect resales through other securities dealers and customary commissions or concessions to such other dealers may be allowed. Sales of shares may be at negotiated prices, fixed prices, market prices or prices related to market prices then prevailing. Any such sales may be made on The Nasdaq National Market, in the over-the-counter market, by block trade, in special or other offerings, directly to investors or through a securities firm acting as agent or principal, or through a combination of such methods. Any participating securities firm may be indemnified against certain liabilities including liabilities under the Securities Act. Any participating securities firm may be deemed to be an underwriter within the meaning of the Securities Act, and any commission earned by such firm may be deemed to be underwriting discounts or commissions under the Securities Act.
In connection with resales of the shares sold under this prospectus, a prospectus supplement, if required, will be filed under Rule 424(b) under the Securities Act, disclosing the name of any selling stockholder, the participating securities firm, if any, the number of shares involved, any material relationship a selling stockholder may have with us or our affiliates, and other details of such resale to the extent appropriate. Information concerning the selling stockholders will be obtained from the selling stockholders.
Stockholders may also offer shares of stock issued in past and future acquisitions by means of prospectuses under other available registration statements or pursuant to exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act, including sales which meet the requirements of Rule 145(d) under the Securities Act, and stockholders should seek the advice of their own counsel with respect to the legal requirements for such sales.
For the purpose of this offering, Cooley Godward LLP, San Francisco, California, is giving an opinion as to the validity of the common stock offered by this prospectus.
The financial statements incorporated in this Registration Statement on Form S-4 by reference to the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2003 have been so incorporated in reliance on the report of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an independent registered public accounting firm given on the authority of said firm as experts in auditing and accounting.
We have not authorized any dealer, sales person or other person to give any information or to make any representations other than those contained in this prospectus or any prospectus supplement. You must not rely on any unauthorized information. This prospectus is not an offer of these securities in any state where an offer is not permitted. The information in this prospectus is current as of August 31, 2004. You should not assume that this prospectus is accurate as of any other date.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
August 31, 2004