eBay Sponsors Panel Discussion on Platform-Enabled Entrepreneurship and New Enterprise Creation in the US

January 12, 2017

Featured in the picture from left to right are: James Pethokoukis, John Lettieri, and Brian Bieron

Today, eBay sponsored a panel discussion that focused on platform-enabled entrepreneurship and new enterprise creation in the United States during the most recent economic recovery. Brian Bieron, eBay’s Executive Director of Global Public Policy, represented eBay on the panel, which also included John Lettieri, Co-Founder and Senior Director for Policy and Strategy at the Economic Innovation Group (EIG). James Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute fellow and CNBC contributor served as moderator of the discussion. 

The event coincided with the release of a new eBay Public Policy Lab report - Platform-Enabled Small Businesses and the Geography of Recovery – that looked at the county-level geographic dispersion of new enterprise formation on eBay compared to new establishment formation in the traditional economy during the 2010-14 recovery. This research builds upon a 2016 report published by EIG that examined Census Bureau data on the net growth of business establishments over three recovery periods in the past 25 years. John Lettieri focused his remarks on the findings of EIG’s research, which revealed that during this time period, the geographic distribution of new firm growth became increasingly concentrated in a smaller number of more populous counties. Brian presented the findings of eBay’s research, which pointed to a significantly more geographically inclusive spread of new enterprise formation on eBay compared to the brick and mortar economy as reported by EIG. 

The side by side is striking – half the net increase in eBay Commercial Sellers came from 75 counties spread across 24 states, as opposed to the 20 counties covering only 7 states for net establishment growth. The geographic distribution of the 75 counties in the eBay results – which touches nearly every region of the country - mirrors the traditional economy business growth in the recoveries in the early 90s and 2000s.  Country-wide, 71 percent of counties saw a net increase in their number of eBay Commercial Sellers, while only 41 percent of counties saw an increase in their number of business establishments. We believe the findings point toward Internet-enabled small business growth as a force for economic dynamism and inclusive economic growth that are potentially countering the trends in the traditional economy over the past three recoveries.    

The thoughtful exchanges this morning, both between the panelists and among the many representatives from DC-based think tanks and policy groups, was a vibrant and positive discussion of the state of entrepreneurship in America, the Future of Work, and how digital commerce platforms like eBay are impacting both. We would like to thank John Lettieri of the Economic Innovation Group and James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute for participating in the event and their valuable insights into these important and timely issues.