Nearly 25 years ago, Ebay changed the landscape of card collecting forever. For the first time, millions of collectors were interconnected, and finding rare cards suddenly became as easy as turning as your computer.
In the time that has passed since, Ebay has maintained its place as an important hub for sports cards. It hasn’t been without competitors, but until recently, many of its fiercest competitors utilize Ebay to their advantage. COMC emerged as a strong option, especially for lower-end cards, but COMC cross-lists cards on Ebay and runs regular auctions on higher-end items there as well. PWCC has a marketplace for pricier cards, but its marketplace was born out of their huge success on, and eventual ban from, Ebay.
More recently, live break and auction services such as Whatnot and Loupe have pushed the envelope. But Ebay has been busy developing Ebay Live, which will offer the same service in an app used by millions of people worldwide. Fanatics is also developing its own live streaming breaking platform, which will be sure to go head to head with Ebay Live when it rolls out. Ebay also introduced its popular Authenticity Guarantee program to sports cards.
Now there are signs that Ebay is once again doubling down on maintaining its foothold in the trading card industry. Last week, Ebay posted a job opening for a “GM, Trading Cards” position. The job description notes driving category growth, which is not unexpected — of course the company wants to grow, because that’s what companies do. But there is also a mention of “launch[ing] innovative features” to deliver a “best-in-class experience.”
Clearly, despite Fanatics taking the approach of trying to control every aspect of the market, as well as formidable opponents like Whatnot and Loupe, Ebay is not standing pat. Given the upcoming introduction of Ebay Live coupled with this job posting, I would expect major innovation in the trading card space on Ebay in the next few years, as it fends off challenges from Fanatics and other potential rivals.