EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 139 - March 20, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     1 of 8

From the Editor

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Gary Rivlin of the New York Times wrote an interesting article on March 6 about eBay and its current woes, "EBay's Joy Ride: Going Once . . ." Unfortunately by the time this issue is going to press, the article is no longer available at no charge, so you either have to purchase it on the Times site ( or go to your local library.

A lot of people read the NYT, among them Tom Ashbrook, host of National Public Radio's Onpoint program. Tom had Gary Rivlin on his show after the article ran. He kindly invited me on for part of the show to share my observations.

I enjoyed the forum that Tom gave people to really discuss in depth what's going on in the auction world. He had good guests, and some interesting eBay sellers called in during the show and talked about their own businesses. You can find a link to the audio on this page:

In the midst of the attention eBay has been getting since January about the fee changes, eBay CEO Meg Whitman caused a stir when she threw her hat in the ring for the post of CEO at Disney. While she may have seen this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity worth exploring, it also got some people wondering if she was actively looking to leave eBay - and why. Here's what Whitman herself had to say about it in a memo to employees: to the San Jose Mercury News is required).

When you are CEO of a big company, you have to wait for your opportunities. CEO positions for Fortune 500 companies generally don't pop up in the local newspaper's help-wanted section. So even if Whitman wants to leave eBay within a certain timeframe, it's more likely she will wait for the next challenge that is right for her. When that may be is anyone's guess.

One thing I haven't heard in all the analysis is the fact that her willingness to leave eBay may, in fact, keep some of her top execs in place. Jordan, Bannick and Cobb have all been mentioned as possible successors, and may be less likely to leave eBay if they think they have a shot at Whitman's job within a few years.

In today's issue, David reveals the results of the survey we conducted on eBay Private Auctions. While the majority of AuctionBytes readers who took the survey have never used private auctions (76.6 percent), those who have said one reason is to protect the privacy of the bidders purchasing adult items, another reason is to keep competitors from soliciting customers. See today's article for details.

Also in today's issue, Greg Holden takes us to Nebraska where one entire town took part in a fundraiser held on eBay; Michael Banks questions whether online sellers should charge handling fees; and Brian Cohen explains how to create a URL that points to your eBay listings for marketing purposes. And as always, we have a Collector's Corner column, a roundup of interesting sites and services in today's This & That column, and Letters from Readers.

Today is the first day of Spring, hoping it's nice where you are! I'm in Atlanta for the PESA Summit (, and will report back in this week's Newsflash newsletter.

Thanks for reading,
Ina Steiner, Editor

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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