Photograph by David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Leena Rao
April 26, 2016

EBay’s revenue and the value of all transactions in its marketplace rose slightly in the most recent quarter. But there’s one business within the e-commerce giant that is growing fast: StubHub.

The online ticketing service’s growth, as highlighted during eBay’s earnings on Tuesday, is reminiscent of PayPal’s before it was spun off into an independent company last year amid pressure by Wall Street.

First quarter revenue at StubHub, acquired by eBay nine years ago, rose 34% to $177 million. EBay’s overall revenue, by comparison, grew a tepid 4% to $2.1 billion.

Meanwhile, StubHub’s quarterly sales volume, or the value of all tickets sold, rose 29% to $869 million. It makes the service, which collects a fee on each ticket sale, a major player in the ticket reselling market.

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EBay CEO Devin Wenig said that StubHub’s growth could be attributed in the past quarter to a number of new features including a new way to personalize event recommendations for users. StubHub is also testing virtual reality to give concert and sports event goers a more immersive view of what the view is like from their seats before buying a ticket.

StubHub could also be benefitting from new leadership. Last year, Scott Cutler, former head of global listings at the New York Stock Exchange, joined eBay to head StubHub. In October, shortly after Cutler joined, StubHub had a record month of sales.

StubHub is also now taking on Ticketmaster by starting to partner with primary ticket holders like sports teams to sell tickets directly to buyers rather than through third-party sellers. StubHub is already partnering with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers to power ticket sales for the 2016-2017 season.

Still, StubHub is nowhere near the size of PayPal when it was spun off of eBay. And StubHub must continue to show improved sales growth to prove that it can survive on its own.

StubHub is rumored to be a spinoff candidate in the future. But time will tell if the ticketing marketplace will meet the same fate at PayPal, which managed to turn its huge market in digital payments into a major business.

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