eBay is selling StubHub tickets marketplace to Viagogo for $4 billion

The online retailer has been under pressure from activist investors to shake up its business.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
2 min read
Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

eBay said Monday it agreed to sell StubHub, its tickets marketplace, to Viagogo for $4.05 billion in cash.

Like StubHub, Viagogo is a site for people to buy and sell tickets to live games, shows and concerts. While nearly all of StubHub's customers are in the US, Viagogo's are spread out in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The combined company will offer hundreds of thousands of tickets daily in over 70 countries.

Eric Baker, Viagogo's CEO and founder, also co-founded StubHub while in business school, but left before its sale to eBay in 2007 for $310 million. "It has long been my wish to unite the two companies," he said in a statement Monday. 

The two companies will operate independently for the foreseeable future as they work to integrate. No changes to their leadership teams were announced Monday as part of the deal.

The deal is the culmination of months of upheaval at eBay, as activist investors Elliott Management and Starboard Value have pushed for changes at the online retailer. Those investors had been calling on eBay to sell or spin off StubHub and its classified ads business.

Amid this confrontation, CEO Devin Wenig stepped down in September, as he cited disagreements with his board, which included new members brought in by the activist investors. Finance chief Scott Schenkel took over after Wenig's departure.

The StubHub sale continues eBay's narrowing focus on its e-commerce site, after it already spun off PayPal and its enterprise business in 2015. These changes could help eBay hone its efforts on its one major business as it works to compete against the much larger and faster growing Amazon. Or the change might make eBay an even less significant player in online retail. The sale of StubHub could also be a way for eBay to make itself small enough to be purchased, since the company has been rumored as a potential acquisition target since the PayPal spinoff.

eBay remains the second-largest e-commerce company in the US by total sales, following Amazon. But, eBay has been losing market share to Amazon and Walmart for the past four years and, if this trend continues, will lose its place to Walmart in the coming years. eBay's share of the US market this year is 5.7%, versus 37.6% for Amazon, according to eMarketer.

Last quarter, StubHub accounted for 14% of eBay's revenue.

The sale is expected to close by the end of the first quarter next year. eBay's stock was up 1.2% on Monday morning.

Originally published Nov. 25 at 6:17 a.m. PT
Update, 9:28 a.m. PT: Adds more details on the deal.