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John Donahue

High-ranking Microsoft execs like CEO Steve Ballmer bristle when they see employees carrying MacBooks or iPhones around the office. So, what’s the equivalent at e-commerce juggernaut eBay?

Well, you guessed it: boxes.

At least that’s how we’re interpreting a comment that eBay CEO John Donahoe made to employees at a recent gathering in Silicon Valley.

“I see competitors’ boxes coming to our mailroom,” said Donahoe, as reported in an in-depth profile on eBay in Fortune this month. “You should be using our products and using PayPal products wherever you see them.”

As Business Insider notes, Donahoe didn’t mention by name, but we’re assuming he was referring to the longtime rival.

The profile in Fortune by JP Mangalindan is definitely worth a read, showing how Donahoe has led eBay back to success. The stock is up 71 percent in the past 12 months — nearly on pace with Amazon’s meteoric 77 percent increase.

eBay is actually expanding rapidly in Amazon’s backyard, inking a lease for 53,000 square feet of space in Bellevue. The new office, led by Microsoft vet Ken Moss, is about double the size of the company’s existing footprint.

The Fortune report also points out how eBay is transforming itself into a provider of e-commerce tools and logistics, essentially becoming “the shopkeeper’s best answer to Amazon.” In other words, while Amazon is looking to dominate other retailers or compete alongside them, eBay wants to provide tools like PayPal to make existing retailers even better. Writes Mangalindan:

Amazon’s insatiable desire to dominate all of retailing proved to be an opportunity for eBay — a chance for the platform to become a sort of Switzerland of e-commerce, helping retailers fend off a common foe. “eBay wants to partner with the market sellers of the world, not put them out of business,” says Devin Wenig, president of Marketplaces. Indeed, eBay doesn’t compete directly with its retail partners — it isn’t peddling books and shoes and diapers alongside them.

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