It was announced back in November last year that Magento was being moved under eBay Enterprise. (The photo to the right is Roy Rubin on stage expanding upon this at the 2104 Imagine conference.) Here is my personal perspective on why I think this is a good thing all around.
Normal disclaimer, the following is personal opinion based on public information. I do not claim to represent the official position of eBay in this post.
Obviously eBay is a for-profit business. So does this conflict with Magento being made available as open source? Why is Magento being open source good for eBay? We all know that projects need to be profitable or achieve some goal for a company to get bigger investments. The more potential a project has, the more investment it will receive. To me the good news is I think there is a sound business model for eBay Inc with Magento 2 being both open source and extensible.
(Oh, should I insert an additional disclaimer here about being more of an Engineer than a marketing expert or business strategist?)
What is eBay?
So what is “eBay” really? eBay Inc is the parent company across eBay Marketplaces (the ebay.com web site), PayPal, eBay Enterprise, and numerous other related smaller companies. The overarching vision of the eBay family of companies is to provide services to the commerce space. The ebay.com marketplaces web site is a service that allows people to buy and sell online without having to run any IT systems themselves. PayPal is payment service taking the risk out of online transactions – all the IT infrastructure is run for you. eBay Enterprise offers a wide range of services for their clientele. They do everything from hosting online stores, order management, display ads, photography of products, marketing services, warehouse management, omni-channel fulfillment (including ship from store), and more. These are all services you can use, if you decide the cost is worth the benefit for your business.
eBay Inc is also a commerce enabler, rather than being a merchant itself. It’s purpose is not to buy or sell products but rather enable others to do so. This is a part of the core purpose of the company. I remember hearing Pierre Omidyar (eBay Founder) say he aligned the beginning of commerce with the beginning of civilization. The fact that commerce occurs helps both the producer and the consumer. Commerce is not something to be ashamed of (“I am trying to extract money from you against your will”) – it is something to be proud of (“I can save you time and money, and give you access to things you would not have had access to otherwise”). OK, this is true for most businesses anyway! So enabling commerce brings good to people on both sides of the equation. Enabling more commerce to occur is a metric of success for eBay, and Magento certainly aligns with that vision – lowering the barriers for businesses to do commerce.
Magento / eBay Enterprise Alignment
The alignment of Magento with eBay Enterprise is a strategic decision by eBay. One goal is to make eBay Enterprise services available to a broader audience – the Magento community. However eBay (rightly in my opinion) has decided not to lock Magento in to eBay Enterprise services. Instead eBay has renewed (even expanded) it’s commitment to Magento being an open source platform. That is in complete alignment with the greater eBay Inc goals of enabling commerce. Being open source is good for the existing Magento community and new businesses who want to get into the online space. The eBay Enterprise alignment is then a bonus for those merchants who can benefit from the scale and expertise of eBay Enterprise. Such merchants will have the option of adopting eBay Enterprise services as their businesses grow.
Over the next year or two I expect to see better and better alignment of eBay Enterprise services with Magento. It won’t be instant, but it is clearly the direction. Existing eBay Enterprise customers won’t be forced to Magento, just as Magento customers won’t be forced to eBay Enterprise. But barriers will be broken down to make adoption of eBay Enterprise technologies in Magento easier and more cost effective. It is the scale of the Magento community that has the potential to drive down costs. The end result is technologies and services that were traditionally only available to the top end of the market will work their way down market. Businesses will be able to take advantage of advanced technologies as services provided by eBay Enterprise, without the overheads associated of running them.
How to make such integration of eBay Enterprise services into Magento be more efficient and lower adoption risk? By improving the upgradability of Magento, reducing extension conflicts, improving modularity, and … sound familiar? (See my previous blog post on Magento 2 goals.) That is, the same set of features that are good for the Magento community and ecosystem are also good for eBay! This is the ideal – eBay investing in its own goals and ambitions, with direct benefit for the community.
First Integration Examples
For me, it was great to see a few first examples of this integration at the Magento Imagine 2014 conference. As well as the integration of Magento 1 with the eBay Enterprise back-end Retail Order Management (ROM) system (use Magento as the front-end, but backed with a hosted highly functional and powerful back-end, with lots of other follow-on services you can then expand into), it was nice to see two other eBay Enterprise extensions hit Magento Connect for the conference: the eBay Enterprise Display Extension and the eBay Enterprise Affiliate Extension. Both are services offered by eBay Enterprise (the Magento modules are free, the services are for fee). The first can help target your ads on other sites to people have visited your site before (a way of reminding them later about your site to try and bring them back), the second can help you manage affiliates to direct more traffic to your site (with a pre-existing network of thousands of affiliates to tap into). It is an example of how eBay can make technologies not normally available to smaller business accessible to the broader commerce community. I believe some customers have already gone live with these extensions within weeks of them hitting Magento Connect.
To me this is all good news. The plans for Magento 2 benefit both the community and eBay at the same time. eBay wants to enable more partners to develop solutions for merchants. eBay wants to help grow businesses around their e-commerce strategy. eBay wants to make eBay Enterprise services available to the Magento community bringing higher end technologies available down market. eBay sees the value of Magento being open source. And eBay wants to build features into Magento that are good for the Magento ecosystem. All of this to me indicates a rosy future for Magento under the eBay Enterprise mantel.