Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

It’s open-mike day at eBay!

March 12, 2009

Wall Street technology investors spent much of Wednesday at eBay‘s San Jose campus listening to the online giant defend its company, especially its slowing marketplaces unit.

And for anyone doubting the relevance of eBay’s site in today’s crowded e-commerce field, Mark Carges, the chief technology officer of marketplaces, set them straight.

Walking the crowd through eBay’s enhanced search functions, Carges showed a slide encapsulating what may very well be the best of eBay — “A Hello Kitty wedding cake topper,” he announced, to giggles throughout the auditorium.

He paused for emphasis before adding: “Available only on eBay.”

The budding techie comedian made the crowd guffaw with a special mention of the item’s “satin floral accents.”

Other twitters, and not the virtual kind, came when Donahoe told the crowd to turn off their cell phones — “Unless they’re buy orders and then stay on as long as you like.”

And finally, regarding that perennial crowd pleaser, valuations, Donahoe asked Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan to explain to the gathered investors how they should value the company.

“Far be it for me to tell them how to value the company” said Swan, demurely.

“Give them hints,” suggested Donahoe.

The upshot? EBay — currently trading at 7 times projected 2009 earnings — is undervalued, and no laughing matter, according to the company.

Swan said the subject made him “miffed.”


It is amusing, as a long-time ebay buyer and seller, to watch the current management team try to explain their gross mismanagement and lack of understanding of what made their marketplace great, which should be powerful in today’s economy. But, instead of being superior in a down economy as WalMart and consignment stores are, ebay is in freefall. Why? Because the likes of Mr. Donohoe have refused to listen to the people who knew the marketplace and who are the main stakeholders in ebay–their sellers. The sellers have absorbed several years of increasing fees, dysfunctional search, hostile policy decisions, buyer fraud, and mismanagement. Of course the marketplace is in freefall! It will remain so until ebay’s stockholders boot the current cadre of clowns and bring in people who are active participants in the marketplace, as sellers. I can only hope that the ship is saved. The captain can’t see the iceberg coming in the fog as his radar is using ebay’s new Best Match search, which has set the radar to only detect “ice cream” hazards instead of “ice” as the captain expected.

Posted by Davey | Report as abusive

Donahoe created every one of the problems he’s now grandstanding about solving. The condition of Ebay is a direct result of Donahoe’s management, and now he says the solution is more of the same. Plus, he’s betting heavily on Paypal, which will stall once it’s subjected to California banking regulations and taxes. Make no mistake: this is what’s on the horizon.

Posted by Suffering Ebay Seller | Report as abusive

Just one of the many, many issues that caused me to lose faith and leave eBay after 11 years:

Donahoe said today: “We aren’t trying to be a retailer. We’re not trying to fill our shelves with every new iPod. If our sellers can find new ones and resell it, that’s fabulous.” If not, he said, an advertisement on eBay will direct buyers to that product.”

The problem with this line of “spin” is that with those same “advertisements” Donahoe is speaking of, they are INSIDE actual ads on eBay and direct the eBay seller’s potential buyers to an OFF-eBay site to purchase the very item that the eBay seller DOES have listed on eBay, otherwise the keyword-triggered advertisement would not have loaded… the eBay seller has PAID eBay to list their item on eBay, yet eBay “sub-lets” the seller’s ad to these other advertisements! What kind of sense does that make?! It’s doesn’t! It’s absurd!

Why would ANY eBay seller PAY eBay to send their potential customers AWAY from their listing to buy their item elsewhere?!

Yes eBay, please let me BUY space FOR YOU to place YOUR advertisements… I’ll just leave the palette blank for you, so you’ll have more room to divert MY customers away via your PPC ads!

Typical eBay, stepping over dollars to reach for PPC pennies. They forget who made them. Their “customers” are the sellers who pay them. Real bright there, Donahoe.

They just refuse to admit they’ve FAILED, beginning with the idiotic changes that Meg Whitman began implementing 5 years ago and it’s only gotten worse. Zero fraud enforcement, thus the name eBay has become synonymous with ripoff. Minnie Mouse and Goofy could’ve run eBay better with Donald Duck for their spokesperson.

eBay is stuck on the greed wagon and I don’t see any viable changes coming any time soon. Donahoe speaks like that idiot Palin in a “blizzard of words” saying nothing.

Posted by Rainbow Jones | Report as abusive

I am angered beyond belief that Donahoe has destroyed a fabulous site in his short tenure on ebay and equally livid at the shareholders who fell for Donahoe’s deceitful manipulation of them. How DARE they be so pliable as to let that unscrupulous CEO, play them so! The analysts who are being led around by their noses should seriously consider career changes. True analysts would not be so easily manipulated by Donhoe’s amateur parlor tricks. Donahoe’s attempt to hide his enormous leadership failures, by waving a Paypal pennant, is nothing more than a disgusting display of a very desperate man, simply trying to save his own golden parachute. Get rid of this inept clown and bring in someone with true leadership skills, morals and vision beyond their own megalomania!

Posted by DonahoesKillingEbay | Report as abusive

HO and NO gotta GO!

NEG MEG 2010!


Posted by And*The*Horses*You*Rode*In*On | Report as abusive

Today’s meeting and PR session was one of the most flagrant examples of self serving spin I have ever heard. Look at ANY of the blogs ANYWHERE, and you see the same thing. Ebay has done everything in it’s power to alienate the small and medium sized sellers that made it what it is. They are blindly pursuing a mass market strategy, which can be done much better by others, where the sellers do not have the ludicrous overheads and fees posted by Ebay, nor the danger of buyer fraud which Ebay, in it’s misplaced zeal to please all potential buyers, seems to condone.
John Donohoe, the CEO, seems disconnected from the marketplace, and Lorrie Norrington, the second in command, downright hostile to those sellers who have made ebay successful in the past. All of this has been reflected in the declining stock price, hard to love a company that hates it’s customers. Apparently the consensus is correct, unless this top management team is removed and replaced by people who will actively promote the site (when is the last time you saw and Ebay ad?), it can only go downhill.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

Are you kidding me?? Never, have I heard such BS thrown around in one day! This management team is totally out of touch with reality. The only reason eBay is in a freefall is mismanagement, period!! Where do I start? BS feedback policy, ridiculous new “MY EBAY”(slower than watching paint dry and not really MY eBay), increasing fees, bogus DSR system based solely on someones opinion, irrelevent best match search… do I really need to continue? These guys are so clueless, I heard Brian Burke say on the last Town Hall meeting “take what you read on the message boards with a grain of salt”!! These people are not listening to their REAL CUSTOMERS…SELLERS!!!!! The only way to stop the freefall is new management that actually listen and understand what their customers are saying!

Posted by stp | Report as abusive

Ebay may worry about alienating it’s sellers, but buyers have also had enough. I have used ebay for 12 years as a buyer, feedback of 700+ – 99% buying, but no more. The new My ebay page is atrocious, takes forever to load and seems set up for sellers and the new search is the final straw. With no opt out I cleared all watched items, deleted all favourite searches and now only use ebay to see what is available, before finding it elsewhere.

Posted by Ex ebayer | Report as abusive

Gotta get them where it hurts-

Encourage anyone you know who has Ebay stock to SELL it.

Our last ebay strike made the national news, now with a much more volatile financial climate, a REAL impact might be possible.
Gouging the little guy isn’t as in style as it it was under the Bush regime.
And since they’ve taken to screwing us penny by penny – it might be time to take to the streets. Getting the word out, just may have some impact!

Posted by angered seller | Report as abusive

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