EBay has appointed Vladimir Dolgov, a former Google manager and once the chief executive of Russia's biggest online retailer Ozon, to head its Russian marketplaces business as part of a plan to strengthen its foothold in Europe's biggest internet market. The U.S. online auction and fixed-price sales giant launched a Russian-language website just over two years ago, but has yet to make serious inroads in a market dominated by local firms such as Ozon.
“Vladimir's appointment in the newly-created position reflects the increasing importance of the Russian market to eBay, and demonstrates eBay's commitment to growing its business in Russia,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
Poaching from Google?
Dolgov had been the Russia head of Google, Russia's No.2 search engine behind home-grown Yandex, since 2005. He was the CEO of Ozon – known as Russia's answer to Amazon – earlier in the decade.
Russia's e-commerce market rose 30 percent last year to 320 billion roubles ($9.87 billion) and is expected to grow further on the back of rising broadband use in a country where internet penetration stands at just over 40 percent. Russia last year overtook Germany as the biggest internet market in Europe by number of users and has been attracting a growing number of internet investors.
Ozon sealed the biggest private investment in Russia's e-commerce market last September when it secured funding of $100 million from a consortium including Japanese online retailer Rakuten.
The appetite for Russian online stocks was also highlighted by oversubscribed initial public offerings by Yandex and Mail.Ru Group which raised nearly $2.5 billion between them in 2010 and 2011.