Wednesday, June 11, 2008

eBay Live 2008! - Let's Walk Down Memory Lane!

As we approach the final eBay Live! I thought I would repost my Memory Lane post from last year -- I'm feeling a little nostalgic. I wouldn't miss this event for the world, this is going to be an interesting eBay Live! I originally wrote this in June of 2007.

Since eBay Live 2007 is fresh in my mind, I thought it would be fun to search for news coming out of each eBay Live conference beginning with the first 2002 event in Anaheim, CA. I have attended 5 of the 6 eBay Live! Conferences and was struck this year by lack of information regarding "The Power of Three" the eBay mantra that came out of eBay Live! in 2006 from Vegas. I was curious if the messaging from eBay had changed and wondered how it has changed through the years. I am not going to make any comments regarding any of this news, but I will select a short item or two from each year to give you a taste. Please read the articles and digest them and then if you would like, comment on what you've read. Okay, one comment: After attending this eBay Live in Boston and hearing my 5th Keynote Speech from Meg Whitman I made a comment to a friend. "They could have just played a video of Meg's Speech from the first eBay live and she could have taken the night off."

History is a great teacher - Class is in session.

eBay Live! 2002 - Anaheim, CA - Tagline - "eBay: The People's Market."
  • eBay to Celebrate its People and Passion at eBay Live 2002 Community Conference - eBay Press Release
    eBay exists because of the strength and spirit of our community,” said eBay President and CEO Meg Whitman. “At the very core of this online company is a community of people who have built it to become the largest Internet marketplace. We look forward to celebrating the many individual and collective successes of the people who are eBay.”

  • eBay Live Power Panel Answers Tough Questions from Attendees - From Auctionbytes
    Some of the questions were answered with standard eBay responses. When someone asked why it is difficult to get an answer from customer support, and that many large companies have live phone support, why not eBay, the room exploded with applause. eBay's Maynard Webb said that eBay has introduced chat capability. He failed to mention that the feature is only for help in using eBay features, and not with customer support issues. He also said that they are reviewing a phone support model, but the cost of such a plan must be weighed against the high number of transactions with low values. "We are judiciously considering it," he said (Funny coincidence Maybard Webb is now CEO of LiveOps a Phone Customer Support business)
Okay, I can't keep my comments to myself. eBay announced health insurance for Power Sellers and discussed working closer with PayPal (a month later they purchased PayPal). BTW, at eBay Live! 2002 eBay paid all of the expenses for it tops sellers and gave us lots of nice gifts.

eBay Live! 2003 - Orlando, FL - Tagline - "
Do It eBay" Rather uneventful conference but once again eBay paid for top sellers to attend which I appreciate.

eBay Live! 2004 - New Orleans, LA - Theme - "Leap to New Heights".
  • eBay Execs Give Keynote Speeches at eBay Live
    Whitman handed the stage to Jeff Jordan, Senior Vice President, North American Business ... Jordan reviewed some of the initiatives eBay has undertaken in the last year. eBay now offers combined multiple item purchases; sports a new faster and more efficient search engine; and has a comparison shopping feature.

    Jordan spoke about the importance of providing buyers to the site, and said eBay spent 25% of revenue, $200 million, on sales and marketing efforts in the first 3 months of this year.

  • eBay Execs Face Tough Questions During Saturday's Q&A
    Griff read aloud questions from eBay buyers and sellers. The topics ranged from concerns about large sellers taking business away from small sellers, to large-volume fee discounts, to global trading issues on the auction site.

  • Security Q&A with Rob Chesnut, eBay's Trust & Safety VP
    Most of the session time was spent responding to questions from the 75 or so PowerSellers in attendance. Some of the issues expressed by attendees included photo copyrights, grey market transactions, retaliatory negative feedback, feedback extortion, shilling, private User IDs, private feedback, key word spamming, fee avoidance, account hijacking, counterfeit items, and more.
It sure seems to me we continue to talk about the same things year after year. Maybe 2005 in San Jose will be different. eBay had rolled up categories in Media and reduced the barrier to entry for media sellers with prefil and I noticed for the first time ever sales were leveling off.

eBay Live! 2005 - San Jose, CA - Tagline "the power of us all"
  • eBay CEO's Keynote: eBay Broadening Scope, but Still Listening to Users
    Whitman said several times during the night the words "off eBay." This seemed a strange admission from the company to acknowledge ecommerce outside of the eBay platform. Earlier in the day, the launch of ProStores, eBay-hosted ecommerce web sites, was announced. Whitman said, "You are looking to expand your sales. Our fundamental mission is to help you become more successful." She said eBay could help sellers through its technology and its expertise in Trust & Safety. Bill Cobb said in talking about Pro Stores, eBay wants to be the best solution provider for all your online selling needs.

  • Fees, Safety, and Support Key Issues at Saturday eBay Town Hall Meeting
    The meeting wasn’t just about fees though. There were many questions about safety, international bidding to unconfirmed addresses, the problems of buyer and seller communication when selling to a non-English speaking country, feedback, power seller level criteria, and many more.

  • Glacier Bay DVD Becomes the Top Seller on eBay (Thanks to my friends at Channel Advisor for the press release.)
    While we passed Jay and Marie to be the #1 feedback seller on eBay we were in reality in the midst of a huge restructuring and modification of our business plan. 2005 would be the year we either "fished or cut bait"
Once again the same questions are being asked and the same responses are being given yet it is obvious that there are problems in the marketplace. My business is close to collapse eBay is talking about "off eBay" yet the response we here from management is, “Yes we agree--we’re working on it.” Maybe 2006 will be better.

eBay Live! 2006 - Las Vegas, NV - Tagline "The Power of Three"
  • eBay Announces Major News During 'eBay Live' Keynote Address
    Meg Whitman explained her philosophy of the power of three to the crowd: eBay, PayPal and Skype, its new Internet telephony company. "Both eBay and PayPal grew faster after we acquired PayPal," she said.

    The most serious moments of the evening came when Bill Cobb addressed the issue of "Stores in Search" (SIS). When he described the rollback of SIS, a number of attendees booed, the first time in five years that eBay Live attendees booed during a keynote address.

  • Members Ask eBay CEO for Seller Verification at Shareholders Meeting

    At eBay's annual shareholder meeting today, long time eBay seller Jay Senese asked eBay CEO Meg Whitman to address the issue of seller verification. "Maybe the time has come for more verification," he said. Many members believe better verification will make the eBay marketplace safer from fraud.

    Whitman said the head of eBay Marketplaces John Donahoe has reviewed policies. "The Internet has become larger, with many more people, and we have asked, do we need to revisit issues like seller verification? We're hearing from our community and are reviewing it."

As I shut down Glacier Bay DVD in January of 2006 I did not attend this eBay Live. but it seemed once again the same questions were being asked and the the same answers were being given. Maybe things will change in 2007

eBay Live! 2007 - Boston, MA - Tagline "Social Commerce"
  • eBay Throws Changes at Sellers During eBay Live Keynote
    eBay CEO Meg Whitman got a warm greeting when she walked onto the stage, and she replaced last year's mantra, "The Power of Three" (which referred to eBay, PayPal and Skype), with "Social Commerce." In fact, Skype was hardly mentioned during the gathering.

  • eBay Live Town Hall Meeting: Will We Have Fees with That?
    Fees and Feedback star ratings were two of the most talked-about issues at the Town Hall meeting held on Saturday, June 16, the last day of the eBay Live conference in Boston, as eBay sellers lined up at the mics to get their chance to talk one-one with eBay's top executives.
I was able to attend this latest eBay Live via a Press Pass and while there I had an opportunity to sit in on the Media Roundtable where questions that sellers have been asking as long as I can remember were once again asked. It looks like eBay hears the questions says we will look into it and when they return to San Jose other priorities take hold. As I've read the coverage and observed the event s first hand not much has changed since the first eBay Live though it has grown. The same challenges that faced eBay in 2002 are facing them today.

Many thank to Ina Steiner for having these links available on the auctionbytes website.


Anonymous said...

Wasn't New Orleans "You're The Star"?

Randy Smythe said...

I found a reference to the theme for New Orleans and it was "Leap to New Heights." no wonder it was so forgettable.

Anonymous said...

I attended the first Ebay Live in Annaheim. My concerns, largely about the direction Ebay was taking about creating categories fell on deaf ears. In fact, one of the category managers assured me that this was not the direction they wanted to take when I voiced my concern that they were discouraging impulse sales and were pretty much forcing sellers to list apparel items in more than one category because of the way they were rolling out the categories. A few months later, more erroneous categories were rolled out.
I also got the distinct impression Ebay hires alot of recent colelge grads with no real retail or e trade experience, especially in the categories assigned to them. I also got the impression that these managers could care less about the Ebay seller's concerns.
The free parties were wonderful, in fact I was in shock over the lavish buffets and the expense Ebay must have gone to.
But then again, every quarter since, Ebay has been posting record sales and profit increases while continuing to raise fees.

All this while the small and old time sellers' profits have spiraled down,,,

Kirk said...

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Aaron said...

"...The most serious moments of the evening came when Bill Cobb addressed the issue of "Stores in Search" (SIS). When he described the rollback of SIS, a number of attendees booed, the first time in five years that eBay Live attendees booed during a keynote address..."

Something tells me that you would have been able to hear a mouse fart in that Vegas arena compared to the boos you will at eBay live this year..

Rich said...

"Leap to New Heights"

This year's will be "Leap From new Heights"

[sorry, goitta go---I see I have a couple of SOLD! notices from the River...]

Tony P. said...

ebay, January 2006 - started an eBay Store promotion, with one month free. Ran it right up to Live!


no SIS

At Live! the message was, "Stores are the heart of ebay. To be successful, you have just gotta have a Store. We love Stores and will do anything to help you succeed"

less than 30 days later...

Store sellers are hit with 150-600% increase in fees and told that their goods are 'Clutter'. Ebay took a royal shit upon us. Bill Cobb's infamous "that's unfortunate" statement. etc.

One of three possibilities.
1. ebay hasn't a frickin' clue what it is doing.
2. ebay is the most diabolically callous SOB ever, hell-bent on generating revenue at all cost. i.e. They would rip out a newborn's kidney, in case they might need one later.
3. both 1 and 2

ms.pat said...

Sadly, all the recollections about prior ebay lives tells me one thing....they never really did know where they were going from one year to the next and they NEVER LISTENED to SELLERS...afterall what could we possibly have known that they, in their infinite wisdom and smug superiority, didn't know already?

By the way, the only Ebay Live I attended was New Orleans, 2004. As a member of community watch, I got an expense paid trip too. I doubt they'd even give folks a free bus ride to the last ebay live this month. The whole thing left me sad - like something is dying and its terminal an incurable :-(

Nadine Carroll said...

The recollections about previous ebay Lives! tell me that there has always been a major disconnect between what ebay thinks it is and what ebay's customer's think it is, that grows clearer every year.

Ebay thinks it is a software company. That's why it always tries to fix problem with more software.

Ebay's customers think it is a landlord providing retail venues.

Ebay never had a clue about retail. Ebay never figured out that it ought to have a clue about retail.

This is why Meg Whitman's "Power of Three" was of course about "Ebay, Paypal and Skype" and not about "Ebay, buyers and sellers"!