Mercado Libre is the leader of eCommerce in Latin America: a huge marketplace where users can be both buyers and sellers.

This marketplace is defined as an auction space where you can find items from different categories such as electronics, cell phones, clothing, home, accessories… but also cars and even real estate properties. You can find new and second-hand items offered by both independent users and companies that have registered in the eCommerce system, highlighting that each seller goes through an identity verification process.

During 2022, the firm reached several milestones. Over these 12 months, MercadoLibre processed more than $1 billion in payments, generated more than $10 billion in net revenue (+49%) and made more than 1 billion shipments through Mercado Envíos.

History of Mercado Libre

Mercado Libre was created in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1999 by Marcos Galperín, a manager who developed the idea of retail while studying for a master’s degree at Stanford University, so he joined forces with Stelleo Passos Tolda and Hernán Kazah. The goal of their project was to replicate the success of Ebay, an eCommerce created in the United States, but with reach at a Latin American level. Both began the project in a garage in the neighborhood of Saavedra, in the city of Buenos Aires.

Marcos Galperín

“A little over two decades ago, four entrepreneurs understood that there was an opportunity in the region and started to build a dream. And when we talked about an “opportunity” we didn’t think about something that would benefit a few, but about an unsatisfied demand, a need that someone had to legitimize and then respond to.

That is, we thought about many winners and opportunities for many people. We talked about the importance of the private sector in the development of products and services, innovation, the creation of genuine jobs, and inclusion in multiple planes. We talked about opening doors, lowering barriers, reducing inequality,” the founders explain on the Mercado Libre website.

That same year, on August 2nd, the digital venture began to function and today they have a presence in 18 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Before launching their project, Galperín had mentioned his idea to some people but almost no one had faith that it could achieve success due to the fact that Internet penetration in Latin America was only 3% and people in the region were afraid of being victims of scams when making purchases online. However, one of his professors at Stanford, Jack McDonald, helped him get in touch with John Muse, co-founder of HM Capital Partners. Muse was captivated by the idea of Mercado Libre and decided to invest $7.5 million in the project.

“In 1999, our company was a marketplace, an online auction site. We had not created Mercado Pago, Mercado Envíos or the other solutions and tools that enriched our value proposition to form the ecosystem that today makes life easier for millions of people in the region, reducing gaps and promoting development. When we started, those business units were not even ideas. But problems appeared, we turned them into challenges and generated solutions. We took risks with each of them, we had successes and errors, we learned, innovated and achieved the impact that inaugurated new paths,” the company explains.

By 2001, two years after starting operations and after receiving a second round of financing of 46.5 million dollars from different shareholders, Mercado Libre closed an agreement with eBay for the latter to become the main shareholder of the Argentine-born company. By August 2007, after having expanded to several countries in Latin America, Mercado Libre enters the NASDAQ, the second largest automated and electronic stock market and stock exchange in the United States (NASDAQ), becoming the first Latin American eCommerce to enter.

These are a few of largest business units in Mercado Libre:

  • Mercado Libre Marketplace
  • Mercado Coin: its own criptocurrency
  • Mercado Ads is their advertising platform for Mercado Libre
  • Mercado Shops, a tool designed to develop online stores within the platform.
  • Mercado Crédito: credit services
  • Mercado Envíos: shipping service with the main national parcel companies
  • Mercado Pago: a payment platform.

What is Mercado Pago?

You may remember that recently we mentioned that one of the great fears of users in Latin America was being victims of scams when making a purchase online. In response to this, Mercado Libre sought to provide a solution in 2003 by implementing a high-security digital tool that consists of processing payments and verifying that the product or service was received before the seller receives the customer’s money.

In its early stages, payments were received by the company via fax, so they were manually managed. Today, this tool has an automated system and accepts payments with various bank cards, bank transfers, and other payment methods.

Mercado pago allows payment through various channels such as:

  • Payment link (social networks and WhatsApp)
  • QR codes (in person)
  • Their payment gateway in online stores

Through Mercado Pago, customers can pay with credit cards, bank transfers, and even cash. In return, it provides customers access to promotions and financial services without fees or additional costs and without any risks. The account functions as a virtual wallet that allows you to make payments, avoiding procedures and saving time.

Currently, Mercado Pago is already available in several countries, such as:

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Mexico
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Peru
  • Uruguay

Mexico, Argentina, Colombia… Mercado Pago has a strong presence in several latin markets.

Evolution of the logo of Mercado Libre

The Mercado Libre logo is very recognizable nowadays, with its characteristic handshake, but this was not the original. From 1999 to 2000, the word “Mercado” appeared in lowercase in a dark blue in an elegant, cursive typography, accompanied by the word “Libre” written in bold, dark yellow by hand.

From 2000 to 2013, a new concept was introduced in its image, maintaining the yellow and blue color palette. Now the logo was an oval enclosing a handshake and outside, with bold sans-serif typography, the company name. This same concept was maintained until 2020 but was redesigned in 2013 to modernize it and adapt it to the times.

With the arrival of the pandemic, the company decided to create awareness through the image of its brand by creating a logo in which they removed their typical handshake and replaced it with an elbow greeting; this in order to create awareness about social distancing to prevent COVID-19 infections. Currently, they have returned to their handshake logo.


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