Spotlight on a top IR team: eBay

Nov 27, 2017
This article was produced by ELITE Connect and originally published on the ELITE Connect platform

In the latest in our series of spotlight pieces, we hear from Selim Freiha, vice president of investor relations at eBay, which scooped the most progress in IR award at the IR Magazine Awards – US 2017.

Describe your event schedule over the past 12 months.

We have a diverse investor base and we make a concerted effort to have an outreach strategy that embraces that diversity. Over the past 12 months, we have conducted multiple roadshows, attended conferences and hosted in-office meetings with current and prospective investors on a regular basis. These events have been spread across North America, Europe and Asia, leveraging a mix of management attendees, as well as IR-only meetings. 

What are the most popular investor queries you receive?

Over the past two and a half years, we have been replatforming our core eBay Marketplace as part of a broader strategy to accelerate growth. We receive many questions focused on the progress we are making and how that is impacting the business, as well as questions around the expected future benefit we expect to drive. We have also started to reposition the eBay brand with consumers and, as a result, our marketing strategy is a topic of interest as well. Finally, we operate other platforms including StubHub and our eBay Classifieds portfolio, which are often topics of discussion with our investor base.

How does your team use technology and social media to convey IR messages?

We currently leverage our IR website as our primary communication tool. We also use our corporate website and social channels to provide updates, including using Twitter during our earnings call to share key messages from our CEO. As technologies continue to evolve and investors look to digest information in different ways, we are always evaluating ways to improve the effectiveness of our communications.

What are your current and future IR challenges?

The investment landscape clearly continues to evolve, which creates ongoing challenges – whether it is the ongoing shift of investment funds from active to passive management, or the potential impact of Mifid II on the industry overall. We believe it is important through these changes to maintain strong relationships with our key stakeholders as well as try to evolve our approach as the landscape changes. We actively monitor new approaches that our IR peers and other public companies may be using that we could either leverage or learn from.

What is the one ‘hot topic’ at the moment?

There are a few that come to mind, but perhaps the most interesting is the prospect of tax reform in the US, and the resulting impact on public companies and their approach to capital allocation.

What is the most important thing IR teams can offer investors? 

We believe the most important thing we can do is offer a clear understanding of our business, where we stand today and where we are heading. We recognize that shareholders may not always have the time or bandwidth to develop a deep understanding of every aspect of our business, and that is where IR can play a key role in the investment consideration process.

What, if anything, does your team do differently from others? What makes your team so successful?  

We owe a big part of our success to the tight integration we have with our business leaders, in addition to being active users of our own product. Maintaining strong relationships with key internal leaders and keeping a pulse on new product experiences being launched by the company enables us to provide relevant, quality insights to our external stakeholders. There is an important feedback loop that we provide to our management team and business leaders regarding how the external investment community is interpreting our efforts.

What are you most looking forward to in terms of future IR activity?

We are excited about the prospect of new technologies and how they can enhance communication with our stakeholders, while developing a deeper understanding of broader market trends. We are also interested to see how Mifid II changes the approach to sell-side research and corporate access over time. 

What is your biggest IR success?

We separated eBay and PayPal in July 2015, which ranks as one of the biggest technology spin-offs ever undertaken. Completing that process and setting up eBay as a stand-alone public company remains the most important initiative we have been through as a team, and our biggest success. The process was similar to an IPO in terms of the complexity, preparation and work involved. We were also responsible for redefining the eBay story post-separation and communicating that to the investment community. It has been quite a journey, but ultimately successful thus far.

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