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Key Departure at eBay and the Effect on Cassini Search

eBay’s Vice President in charge of developing and launching the marketplace’s new Cassini search engine left the company last month before launching its full functionality. An article published in EcommerceBytes Update over the weekend broke the news of Hugh Williams’ departure.

eBay declined to answer specific questions about Williams’ departure and about Cassini, but spokesperson Ryan Moore provided us with the following statement Sunday evening:

“Hugh was tremendously instrumental in creating more personalized shopping experiences for our customers, which includes leading the successful build and rollout of eBay’s search platform, Cassini. We truly appreciate Hugh’s contributions to eBay Marketplaces and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.

“Heading into 2014, Cassini will continue to be instrumental in our strategy to create better experiences for both our buyers and sellers on the eBay platform.”

Williams had joined eBay in 2009 from Microsoft to become eBay’s Vice President of Experience, Search, and Platforms. In an email on Saturday, Williams told EcommerceBytes he decided to leave after the release of 3.0 and Cassini. “I couldn’t be more proud of what we achieved and the team that delivered it all, and said he was “personally very pleased with how much search has improved at eBay.”

In 2008, eBay CEO John Donahoe and Chief Technology Officer Mark Carges expressed their dissatisfaction with eBay’s Voyager search engine. They devised a plan to replace Voyager with a new engine code-named Cassini. eBay postponed the launch once if not more times until its launch in the summer of 2013.

But while eBay launched the backend of Cassini, the head of eBay Marketplaces Devin Wenig said last month eBay has yet to launch the front end – the “full functionality” of Cassini – and will roll that out in 2014.

eBay has communicated little with users about Cassini and exactly what has rolled out and when, though it has briefed Wall Street analysts.

Sellers reacted to the breaking news over the weekend:

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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.