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EBay’s Big Turkish Bet

Turkey is in the middle of an online auction boom; now eBay has a big part of the action thanks to a local giant they’ve had a long relationship with.

young Muslim women

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Auction giant eBay has committed themselves to the Turkish market by purchasing a 93% stake in local site GittiGidiyor, which has more than 6.4 million registered users. Ebay was previously a minority shareholder in GittiGidiyor.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to senior vice president for eBay in Europe Doug McCallum:

We knew that when we acquired a stake in GittiGidiyor that we were buying into an excellent business in an exciting ecommerce market. Since 2007, we have been impressed with GittiGidiyor, its people, its VC investor iLab and its successful approach to ecommerce. There is a lot that we can learn from GittiGidiyor, and much we can share.

McCallum’s statement was shorthand for the fact that eBay wants a bigger chunk of a highly lucrative market. In istanbul-based GittiGidiyor, eBay has acquired a firm that’s in the middle of a national fever that resembles the American glory days of online auctions. According to Turkish industry website Webrazzi, GittiGidiyor’s growing metrics are something that any ecommerce site would envy. In 2010, transaction volume on the website grew by 44% and the number of users increased by 49%. The auction site had 8.5 million unique monthly visitors and a total of 18 million monthly visitors and now hosts 2.5 million live auction listings.

Hampered bureaucracy and small population makes entering the market in the Gulf States difficult. While Israel is largely plugged into the internet and smartphones, the five boroughs of New York City have a larger population than that of the entire country. Egypt and Lebanon are plagued by political instability, while most other states in the region have comparatively small amounts of internet usage.

Turkey, however, is one of Europe’s top 10 Internet markets. Its rapidly growing economy has attracted heavy interest from investors in the wealthy Arab oil emirates, while receiving comparatively little attention from North American and European investors.

While only 45% of Turkey’s population currently has Internet access, the country’s extremely large middle and upper classes mean that eBay and similar firms have a huge market in terms of sheer numbers.

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[Image via Flickr user chrisschuepp]

For more stories like this, follow @fastcompany on Twitter. Email Neal Ungerleider, the author of this article, here.

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