Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where the Hell is Pierre?

Sorry about that title, but honestly I am pretty worked up about this. Billionaire, Pierre Omidyar should stop writing tweets about the state of America and start concentrating on the state of eBay. Maybe if we shame him publicly, we can get him to do his job for the good of each of eBay's stakeholders. 

The problem with eBay is not John Donahoe (he's a hired gun), the problem is Pierre Omidyar. He is the majority shareholder and Chairman of the Board and the only one with any real power. 

He created a site that became the single best "personal empowerment" story ever told and turned it over to Wall Street and the MBA's. They enriched him so he could pontificate about the terrible state of America when he has in his grasp a tool to empower real Americans.

I have lost all respect for the man. He has no real principles he's just a blow-hard. If he wanted to, he could in a heart-beat tell John Donahoe and the rest of the Board what he wants. He had a vision in the early days but the money corrupted him. He owns 177 million shares, which gives him all the power he needs.Check Spelling

Steve Jobs, came back to Apple and turned it around. Pierre is no Steve Jobs, but he is the only person with any real power. Meg Whitman is just a director, John Donahoe works at the behest of the BOD (Board of the Directors) If Pierre had any balls he would just say; enough-is-enough this is what we are going to do. He then just needs to hire an entrepreneur with vision and guts to run the company.

There, sorry for the rant, but I'm laying all of this at Pierre's door.

Just my 15%


Cutting Edge Streetwear Blog said...

Great Post! Clarissa, Tattoo Apparel

Tony P. said...

Da-yamm Boyee! It's like you're speaking MY mind.

For years I've seen board posters lament the sad state of ebay and pine away for Pierre to "come back and save us".

Recently it's been Meg that was the object of those sad sack's misplaced hopes and dreams.

They both have been there, still there and still up to whatever antics that produce the current situation.

The story goes that Pierre and his wife quickly tired of all the limelight, right after becoming billionaires. The poor Ritchie Riches gave up the cocktail circuit after only a few months, packed up and headed to his origin - Paris.

That lasted a while; got tired of that scene and came back. Pierre started several "community works" projects, websites, etc. Those works all have the same "core values" as ebay; everyone has something to contribute, everyone is good, etc.

Excuse me a sec... PUKE....

Okay, back now. He's spread that drivel and continues to do so with everything he touches. He is either the most disingenuous person EVAH, or absolutely the most gullible Chairman that ever ran a corporation.

Personally, I vote for callous, heartless bastard. But then, you knew that...

Anonymous said...

Great post... what are people saying about @pierre on twitter ?

Anonymous said...

Da-yamm is right! Great post!

Dave White said...


If you take a look at the videos that eBay and eBayInk posted featuring JD and Pierre ealier this year showing the supposed support Pierre was lending to the changes on the platform you will see the tremendous anguish in Pierre's face. The tone of his voice was a dead give-away on how he really felt.

Your insight is spot on! Pierre needs to take back the reigns and find someone who really gets it! Someone who has more than 160+ feedback ( I think that's the number but could be off by a few) and until they replace John Donahoe and the other top level executives, eBay will continue it's downward spiral in both sales and users.

BTW, every employee at eBay should be required to have at least 500 feedback as both buyer and seller. The helll with MBA's, common sense and experience goes a lot further in my book than book learning!

Scot said...

Hey Randy,

Great post, I've been watching Pierre Tweet and wondering WTH also. Pierre is a product guy, he could come in and give eBay some vision there (think Bezos/Jobs/Gates) at a minimum.

The only good news is with 177m shares based on the price of $15, his stake is worth $2.6B. With a 52wk high of $36, he has lost $4B - that's got to get his attention at some point.

Once the price falls to $5.65 He won't be a Billionaire anymore, maybe that will get his attention?

I was also surprised to see him tweet about wanting higher taxes, when it's very well known that one reason he left eBay after the IPO was so he could move to Las Vegas, NV and avoid his California tax bill on the eBay windfall.

Can you say 'HYPOCRITE?'


Bob said...

Right On ! He needs to move; the chicken next door is annoying for him and us listening about it. Of course with billions he needs worry about something. Maybe his money?

Hillary said...

Every employee must have at least a 4.2 or be fired!

I'm totally joking. ;-)

But I agree with the poster above. I wish more people who worked for eBay had actually done their time as sellers and buyers. It's hard to run a bookstore if you are illiterate.

Steve said...

eBay has always promoted the idea that Pierre, rather than being a great innovator, "accidentally" started eBay with a weekend coding project.

He did not forsee what eBay would become, despite all the lofty talk. He's a coder. He was just smart enough to get out of the way once it began rolling.

His public statements (tweets) show that he's not in touch with average eBay sellers on the .com site.

My impression is he sees eBay not as a great business tool, but as a social experiment.

Randy Smythe said...

Thanks for the comments everybody. There is as much of a chance for Pierre to read this post as there is for me to win the lottery, but it needed to be said in the open. It has been said behind closed doors for too long.

Scot, that 177 million shares are just the ones he's still holding, but he has to be worried about the loss in value.

Keep em coming.

Anonymous said...


This blog post will hopefully serve the many who have lost so much because of the changes made by those wishing to make a name for themselves or to improve their performance in their buddy systems. You know, pad the pocket of your buddy retailer so you can up your salary in your next position. Too bad that is has caused such a great online society to just plummet. And also caused so many potential sellers to loose everything on their taking a chance at making it big on ebay.

Great POST!!!!!

Lanae said...

Awesome rant, and I totally agree!

His twitter comments are actually annoying, and I'm not sure why I still follow him. Maybe I'm hoping he'll once again say something that inspires me LOL

Tony P. said...

I did a re-visit to to see what the latest employees were saying about ebay. One by a Senior Director (?) has merit:

Advice to Senior Management

"ACTUALLY USE THE SITE. Most executives have their admins buy things for them on eBay, and haven't really used the site enough to experience the fraudulent BS, OR the hellish customer service experience. Rather, they drive the ship based on surveys and market research and spreadsheet data. If they actually got their eyes off of the quantitative culture and focused on the qualitative elements for TWO seconds, they would have an appreciation for what the users/ sellers have been screaming about for years. YEARS! this is not a new trend that has emerged. It's not as though they were blind-sided by the downturn of eBay. It has been coming since 2005."

This reviewer also writes, "A CASE STUDY IN THE MAKING...", so I thought of a title for that textbook (soon, available in Harvard MBA courses?)

"From Boundless Revenue to Complete CORPORATE Culture Stagnation"
"How too much analysis results in too many anal analysts"

ms.pat said...

I have always felt Pierre is a kind of gutless wonder. He hired on Meg because he simply couldn't handle Ebay and now Donahoe has the reins. I feel Pierre just sits back and hopes for the best!

rich said...

Size does matter and Pierre is hung like a pez dispenser.[That is anecdotal].

Ginny said...

I couldn't agree more. He's in a position where he has power that no one else has and he doesn't use it. I don't get it.

Thanks for writing that post.

permacrisis said...

RANDY!!!! You can't see me right now but I'm STANDING on my CHAIR as I clap!!!

From the bottom of my heart-- Thank You!!!

Randy Smythe said...

Well, this post made me feel better, but not real sure if it helped anything.

David said...

Hey Randy, do you think John Donahoe believes in Pierre's statement that "people are basically good"

Randy Smythe said...


John Donahoe doesn't want to have anything to do with Pierre's vision. Pierre apparently doesn't either.

David said...

Here's something that cracks me up about eBay.

eBay doesn't ship any inventory (other than those polo shirts with the eBay logo), yet they have a senior director of shipping.

Mike said...

If you look at the Omidyar Network "Team" background at

you find

Pierre - lucky schlub with mullet

Matt Bannick, Harvard - Kinsey (consultant)/PayPal/eBay

Sal Giambanco - PayPal/eBay

Matt Halprin, Harvard, Stanford - Boston Consulting Group (consultant). BCG employed Bill Bain and spawned Bain & Co, eBay. Entered eBay when it was a "Star" and left as it became a "Dog".

Chris Bishko, Duke - Majored in Biomedical Engineering and English Literature

Jim Bunch, Harvard, Stanford, Goldmand Sachs

Pam Omidyar, - Powerball winner

I started this post with the thought that Pierre has been corrupted by the Bainiac like spawn of eBay. In truth, he seems to have had a lot of hugely talented people around him. Only recently have the eBay/Paypal Consultant Pod People appeared.

Pierre and his good people may be under siege. That could be where the hell is Pierre.

I've come to think of Boston/Cambridge as the source of all things good, Legal Seafood, The Coop, etc. Now it kind of creeps me out.


Got to do a little more work on this equation.

David said...

That mullet is classic! He should grow it back

This quote needs to be updated. "Pierre founded eBay in 1995 to create a level playing field for commerce, giving everyone equal access to opportunity, information, and tools. Today"

NYM Arts said...

Install a SEASONED Ebay Seller ( at least 8 years) who will give us the PRE 2001 User Interface and DUMP every Aquisition ever made. Be SURE to UNLOAD ALL of the TOP People. Every Last One.
Listen, TENS of THOUSANDS of Former Ebayers are Suffering the Horrible Horrible Consequences of John Donahoe's Presence at Ebay. THAT'S RIGHT !! I SAID SUFFERING ! ! ! Those whos futures have been abruptly ERASED. No Longer able to pay the Health Insurance, Pay the House Off in Time, Pay the Heating Bills, the Utilities, ALL THE BASIC NECESSITIES OF LIFE ! !
This wasn't "Funny Money". It was Life's Blood. I'm saddened that THE NATIONAL MEDIA would Blackout This HORRENDOUS CHAPTER in American History. This Story is BIGGER than the Home Mortgage Crisis ! ! ! This Story is Part of the Reason FOR the Home Mortgage Crisis !
In the Very NEAR Future, Ebay's Lifeless Carcass will be left for some New Energy to Resurect. The Sooner This Process begins, the Sooner The AGONY comes to an end.
Mr. Pickins, Mr. Trump, Mr. Forbes, Mr. Gates, Mr. Buffett, Ms. Bettencourt, Mr. Allen,...Please Consider for just a Moment...Investing in America.

Anonymous said...

I really don't care what Pierre says anymore. It's too late. The ebay brand is destroyed. You can't unring a bell. Ebay has chased off the quality sellers and they ain't coming back. Ebay has scared off the buyers with total neglect of the problems marketplace due to their sheer greed and laziness.

Randy Smythe said...


This is true if they don't change course. I think they have until Q1 of 2009 so maybe a few more months than you do.

Do I think they will change? Probably not, but I'm doing whatever I can to keep the topic alive.

The brand can be repaired but not by this management team.

Henrietta said...

I do not share your optimism. eBay has spent the better part of a year subliminally telling buyers that it is a dangerous place to buy. Yes, there is quite often another sucker coming down the road but when you multiply the revolting seller by a factor of 8 (people who have had their ears bent for months and will then go share with their friends) that is a huge burden of negativity to pile on top of the "we are making eBay safer" = "eBay is unsafe and full of bad sellers" message.

The days of my 2500 store listings with 10% rotating through auction at any time are gone never to return. What value is success if you can't make money doing it?

Anonymous said...

Ebay is just another prototype of the big corporations taking away jobs from the lower and middle class worker. Ebay was a great American story gone sour.

Will it come back? I doubt it. Too many bad feelings.

I think you'd have to put an Obama type CEO in there who believes in empowering the people who made Ebay great. JMHO

Randy Smythe said...


I believe it could be done, but I don't hold out much hope that it will be done.

It would take a visionary to turn this around.

nadine said...

I think new management could save face and eBay by praising Donahoe's intentions while faulting only execution - then splitting eBay classic from eBay amazon lite. A new manager could tell the street that he needs money for the turnaround, then he could really advertise both brands - we're back! and we're new!

But the real question is how much lower can eBay Marketplace numbers go before the BoD says enough? Do you think Andreessen was brought onto the board to help give the verdict on JD?

momo said...

I had taken a picture with Pierre in 2003 at the Orlando Live, I said to him, thank you for making a site like this for someone like me to make a living.

Now 5 yrs later, I would like to say to him, thanks for making me waste almost 8 years of my life, building a company, going through hurdles being in Canada with unimaginable things US sellers wouldnt know about, only to have DSRs ruin me as once again, Canadian seller, low score for shipping & s/h means no views on eBay, means a warehouse full of inventory and no money coming in...means, broke soon.

Thanks Pierre! I really thought you were one of the good guys with your "level playing field"...only to sell out to & many others i'm sure.

ms.pat said...

I don't think its hopeless. I know that if present management was swept out today and someone with a good background and seller experience took the helm sellers would flood back in. I know I would. I don't believe in burning my bridges behind me. There was no place else that I could make the kind of money I made on Ebay last year and still be home and retired. Don't kid yourselves...Ebay has a big warchest of cash and can still turn around but not with the present management. I'm hoping they have the worst holiday season ever....I mean way way down a far as they can go so that its impossible to cover it up. In my mind the company will not keep Donahoe if its definitely in fear of going under. Right now he's blaming the economy. We all know that's not quite the truth. He has to once and for all be shown for the destroyer of the company - not the innovator!

ms.pat said...

"But the real question is how much lower can eBay Marketplace numbers go before the BoD says enough?"

Nadine - its really hard for the directors to get a CEO out. I had Home Depot stock when Nardelli was raping that company. They finally got rid of him but it cost them millions. He was so absurd he actually ran his last stockholder's meeting by himself - without the board!

bonni said...

I haven't had any respect for Pierre for some time now. He's just been sitting around on his billions while eBay goes down the toilet. Even as recently as THIS YEAR he was talking in an interview about the "level playing field" as if eBay actually has one. It must be a hell of an ivory tower you can build with billions of dollars, eh?

Anonymous said...

nevertheless Pierre didnt write 'Last Legacy Dotcom Bubble , the Hoe did. THat damn term paper is the 'mein Kampf' of ebay but n obody paid attention. Its how to destrroy ebay brick by brick, 101. For ahired gun, thats more like one big hired hand grenade :( Pierre BCobb and JD spells PBJ and all 3 desrve to be EATEN

coleen said...

Pierre is Meg's bitch. He's a little child who needed adult supervision. He's abdicated all his responsibilities. He has cash, but is powerless by choice.

John Donahoe inherited the crap that is eBay -- he has done his best to clean-house and eliminate all of the legacy human-waste that was the top management. He's not done yet, either -- in my opinion.

What would I do if I were John?

1) get rid of everybody that has Bain, BCG, or Mckinsey in their work history (except John -- i believe in John).
2) fire all the current consultants and contractors that are currently at eBay, costing hundreds of millions with zero results for the shareholder or the customer.
3) iterate on (1) and (2) and all you'll have left is just a handful of people with good operating experience who have actually ran companies or started companies.
4) then and only then, can eBay focus on the customer again (both buyers and sellers) and also on innovating.

Just my $0.15

Anonymous said...

John Donahoe and Ebay have become a joke.
A Donahoism: Mr Donahoe asserts if the buyers are there then the sellers will come.
How many people stand around in a field waiting for a mall to be

permacrisis said...

In fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

In nineteen hundred and ninety five, Pierre brought AuctionWeb alive.

In nineteen hundred and ninety eight, Meg came aboard, but it still worked great.

In 2008, just yesterday, the 'Hoe showed up and killed the 'Bay.