Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tin Hat Alert! eBay Management Changes Afoot?

An analyst buddy of mine was checking out the speaker lineup for the Internet Retailer Conference to be held in Boston this June and he noticed something odd in the press release. After announcing the featured speakers and stating this was going to be the best speaker line-up in the history of the conference, came this:
"Other featured speakers at IRCE include a soon-to-be-named key executive of eBay, who will explain how the #1 e-retail portal is evolving to help established web merchants expand their Internet reach;"
Now, the way this was worded seems to intimate that there will be a "new" soon-to-be-named eBay exec. at the conference. Of course, they probably meant that at the time of this press release eBay hadn't announced the executive who would be speaking. Okay, now you can put on your Tin Hats.

I checked the speaker lineup further and there are several mentions of eBay speakers during sessions and an eBay exec is Featured on the June 17th (but there is no picture). So, you all know me, I decided to have some fun with this. I'm sure eBay just didn't provide this information in time to be included in the press release and website, but there are two other possibilities:
  • A featured speaker, at this type of event, is usually a senior executive, so it could really only be one of four eBay execs; John Donahoe (not likely) Lorrie Norrington President of eBay Marketplaces, Stephanie Tilenius, Sr. VP of eBay North America or Dinesh Lathi, VP of Seller Experience, so why were they not named? Perhaps none of those executives are assured of being with the company as late as June 2009, so they don't want to name somebody and then have to replace them.
  • Or they just haven't drawn straws yet to determine who will speak. After all they were able to provide the topic of that featured session:
    "In its more than dozen years of existence, eBay has evolved with the Internet, from providing millions of entrepreneurs an easy way to start a business to enabling established retailers to extend their reach on the Internet. Now, with a change in leadership, eBay is going through further evolution that the company hopes will attract and engage more consumers and boost revenue for eBay sellers. An eBay executive in charge of transforming the user experience at eBay will lay out in detail where eBay is heading and how retailers large and small can take advantage of the new eBay."
Now doesn't it seem odd that eBay has agreed to send a featured speaker and even provided the content of that presentation, but they were not able to provide the actual speaker information?Just thought I would throw that out for discussion. Maybe June is just too far a way for them to schedule.

Just my 15%


ms.pat said...

The picture will be very very different by June of this year. Anyone who listened to Obama this morning and saw the financial reports now knows that every single major retailer, with the exception of Walmart and Amazon, reported pretty heavy losses during the holiday season. If they can't make their money during the holidays then the year ahead will be pretty darn grim. So...then there's Ebay - all arrogant and seemingly oblivious striving mightily to be yet another black and white catalog retailer. They couldn't have picked a worse time to get rid of the flea market image that could have kept them on top! Perhaps there is such a thing as Kharma!

Dave White said...

Oh Randy, what an inquisitive, suspicious and devious mind you have!!!!!!!

Larry Phillips said...


You've got enough to pick on without messing with this. This is pretty much S.O.P. No matter which Executive presents, it will be the exact same PowerPoint, and the exact same verbiage. That's how Fortune 500 companies.

The REAL question is whether there be an open Q&A session at the end. That will determine whether they need to spend 2 hours rehearsing the script, or 12 hours in mock session rehearsing the responses to questions.

Randy Smythe said...


I was just having some fun. Everybody knows it was just a delay in getting info to Internet Retailer but it opened the door for me to have some fun.

Its not like the NY Times is going to pick this up and run with it.

Dave White said...

Oh but how fun would it be if they did????

Henrietta said...

The trick to interpreting eBay announcements is to read very carefully and analyze what they do not say.

Randy is just messing with your mind on this one but there may be more truth in it than he thinks, joking apart.

I emailed a simple polite inquiry about the job description for Brian Burke's new title. It must be proprietary information because I did not even get the courtesy of an acknowledgment never mind a reply.

Fortunately I was not holding my breath waiting for it.

permacrisis said...

No Randy you misunderstood, this is just the new Anonymous Speaker Initiative.

The speaker's name, is J********e.

Anonymous said...

I'll sh1t if it's Marc Andreesen.

But like you he probably doesn't want the job!

Moonlight said...

Randy, maybe they're sending in one of the new guys?

Randy Smythe said...

Permacrisis, that is very funny.

Henrietta, let me know if you do hear back on that,

Moonlight, thanks for that tip. I don't know how I missed that.

Dave said...


I just wondered if you thought they would actually tell where the company is heading. At least for me, it's hard to get a feel for and a sense of comfort about the "new" eBay. Even though I only have a few thousand items in an eBay store and run a couple hundred fp30 listings, I haven't had a comfortable feeling about eBay in about a year.

The way they just shut some sellers down and no recourse or no one to speak with is troubling. Needless to say, I've posted about 500 items on Amazon and have begun to establish a presence on Bonanzle. I've had a website for years, but built a webstore in the last few months to sell items.

eBay sales were about the same Y/Y last quarter (home and garden). However, my niche doesn't purchase my items at Christmas. January sales are off to a great start.

Matthew Schneider said...


I think what you are seeing is a new 2009 version of eBay.

The 2008 version would have named someone to speak and then change it 10 times from January to June.

Anonymous said...


Think it through first. Come on? That would be a big leap for Ebay.

Randy Smythe said...


They (eBay) won't tell users where they are headed. That is for the bloggers to figure out.

They keep their plans close to the vest because that is their nature.

I don't think they will ever be that transparent.

Matthew, :)