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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 225 - October 19, 2008 - ISSN 1528-6703     1 of 7

From the Editor

By Ina Steiner

October 19, 2008

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A recent Forbes article paints eBay as "cluttered with business-consultant types who are out of touch with customers, lacking in technological vision and prone to sheeplike thinking." Former eBay employee Alan Lewis stepped forward with a post on his blog to lend credence to the article.

Alan, former Creator/Product Manager for eBay Desktop, concurs with many of the assertions in the story, including eBay's lack of a "product visionary." Lewis does not directly blame John Donahoe for all of the company's recent problems, saying that the new CEO "has been left in a terrible bind by those he replaced, who neglected eBay for years."

One can only surmise that Lewis is referring to Donahoe's predecessor, Meg Whitman, who was essentially invisible during the final year of her tenure as eBay's CEO, choosing to stump on the campaign trail, first for Mitt Romney, then for John McCain.

Whitman may be seen by some as a champion of small entrepreneurs, but the legacy she has left behind at eBay is clearly one that favors big businesses, and that decision is one that also makes eBay less likely to be "recession-proof."

Things are not likely to change any time soon. In a speech given in September 2007 at a Legg Mason Capital Management Thought Leadership Forum, then CEO-in waiting, John Donahoe, made the following statement:

"We set out a year ago to think about how we could change before we are forced to change. We took a good look at ourselves in the mirror and didn't like everything that we saw. We saw a very successful business and a lot of momentum but we saw that our user experience and ability to satisfy our buyers and sellers wasn't what we wanted it to be. By using a real focus on the customer, we embarked on a series of fundamental changes that will ultimately span a three year period."

So hang on, folks. There's still a year left of disruption in this campaign of disruptive innovation.

Speaking of which,... eBay is requiring sellers to accept electronics payments for their transactions beginning this week. Sellers have a choice of using PayPal, ProPay or their own credit card merchant accounts.

ProPay has just revealed details of its new eAuction accounts for eBay sellers - and we are first with the details, including processing fees, in today's issue.

Unfortunately, ProPay is not yet available for sellers who are lower than a Silver PowerSeller on eBay. Small sellers who don't qualify for ProPay and do not have their own credit card merchant account will be forced to use PayPal. In effect, eBay has implemented a PayPal-only policy for some sellers - at least until sometime next year when ProPay expands its eAuction service to all sellers.

The ban on checks and money orders is only one of many changes sellers have had to endure this year on eBay. One of the PowerSellers who objects to the changes is Bruce Hershenson (emovieposter.com). Bruce has been vocal in his criticism of the changes, and earlier this year, he set out to move his business off of eBay.

I sat down with Bruce to learn why he left eBay and how his own auction business is faring. You won't want to miss this interview in today's issue.

Bob Bull (Bobal) is an eBay celebrity due to his dedicated work on the boards helping community members navigate online buying and selling. eBay has recognized Bob through awards and feature articles, such as this one in the Chatter newsletter.

I was sad to learn that Bob has inoperable cancer. He's helped so many people in this industry and has enlivened eBay conferences with his presence. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Bob for AuctionBytes TV two years ago. I'm sure he and his family could use our thoughts and prayers at this time, and he should know how much he is loved and appreciated!

Thanks for reading.

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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 ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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