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Amazon and eBay have been battling it out in e-commerce for years — for both buyers and sellers — though eBay CEO Devin Wenig doesn’t see it that way.

Speaking at the GeekWire Summit, Wenig said the e-commerce world is big enough for a number of players, including both Amazon and eBay. He doesn’t view Amazon as a direct competitor, and wants eBay to continue to develop its own identity.

“I don’t want to compete with Amazon; I want to get as far away from Amazon as I can,” Wenig said. “I want us to stand for something fundamentally different. I want eBay to be a winner in discovery-based shopping. I want it to be a place where people think of first for the things they love, not just the things they need.”

Pressed further, Wenig admitted that as much as he doesn’t want eBay to compete with Amazon, the two e-commerce companies do often jockey for the same audiences.

“Sure, we compete,” Wenig said. “We compete for buyers and sellers. Saying that I don’t want to compete doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen in the real world. I don’t want to compete because Amazon is a great company, and I want to build a great company too. This isn’t about a ‘mano-a-mano’ competition. It’s about serving customers. I want to build a differentiated proposition for buyers and sellers. I don’t want us to be analogs of each other; I want eBay to be something different.”

That competition got a lot more intense today, as The Wall Street Journal reported eBay found 50 Amazon sales reps around the world who sent more than 1,000 messages to eBay sellers. In a cease-and-desist letter sent on Monday, eBay accused Amazon of violating a California computer crime law and its own user agreement.

RELATED: eBay accuses Amazon of using its messaging platform to poach sellers, sends cease-and-desist letter

In a statement sent to GeekWire, Amazon said “we are conducting a thorough investigation of these allegations.”

Wenig didn’t want to talk about the issue with Amazon.

eBay to many may evoke memories of an earlier generation of e-commerce. But the company continues to thrive, with more than 175 million active shoppers and close to $100 billion in annual sales.

“I do feel like there (are) a billion shoppers who would benefit from eBay, but they don’t consider us because they don’t know what we do,” Wenig said.

eBay CEO Devin Wenig at the 2018 GeekWire Summit. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

In addition to educating the crowd about eBay’s continued success, Wenig also promoted an initiative to pump up the local retail scenes in former manufacturing hubs like Akron, Ohio and Lansing, Mich. As tech gets dinged for its negative effects, Wenig said eBay has a chance to help local makers bolster their online presence and use technology to reinvigorate struggling cities.

“In a season when tech has taken its body blows about the role it plays in society, and some rightfully so, I want eBay to stand for something different,” Wenig said.

Watch the video above for more from the conversation and see all of our GeekWire Summit coverage here.

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