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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

February 24, 2010 at 1:49 PM

GSC: eBay calls itself the Costco of e-commerce

SAN FRANCISCO — EBay considers itself the Costco of online retail. Not Value Village.

Chief Executive John Donahoe, fresh off the plane from a tech delegation trip to Siberia, spoke at the Goldman Sachs technology conference Wednesday.

An investor, whose name I was unable to get because he was on the other side of a room filled with 1,000 people, said during the question and answer session, “I always worry Amazon is going to clip your growth as you go to fixed price [sellers]. Why don’t I have to worry about Amazon every time you talk to a reporter?”

Over the past 15 months, eBay has restructured its online auction Web site and pricing to attract large sellers who will sell lots of items — like 10,000 at a time — at a fixed price. The company has historically been stronger in the second-hand market through its auctions.

Donahoe said online retail “is not going to be a winner-take-all market.”

“If you take a look at offline retail world discount-market segment, look at Wal-Mart. Costco is another winner in the offline retail segment. Slightly different business model. They co-exist very successfully with Wal-Mart,” he said. “Target is another slightly different model.”

“I think of us as the Costco because Costco has a strong emotional component,” Donahoe added. EBay reported $2.4 billion in sales in the latest quarter. Costco reported $16.8 billion.

Next up, Hewlett-Packard. I will not be reporting from that session because the company barred press from the session even though it is publicly Webcasting it from their Web site. Here is the Webcast.

I am blogging from a nearby cafe. (Seattle Times journalists do not eat free meals at conferences.)

Still to come: Expedia, Zillow, nVidia, Yelp, the FCC and government chief technology officers.

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