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eBay CEO John Donahoe: Economic Volatility is Here to Stay

eBay CEO John Donahoe says economic volatility is here to stay. He was interviewed by PricewaterhouseCoopers as part of its presentation of the PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey.

Donahoe said he’s cautiously optimistic about the economy. However, he sees more potential for volatility compared to 12 months ago.

“We see that in Russia, we see that in some other markets. Whether it’s politically inspired volatility or global security-inspired volatility or economic volatility, in our plans, we are just being conscious that volatility is, I think, something that’s here to stay.”

He also said eBay must deal with issues around security, cybersecurity and privacy. He also cited emerging societal issues caused by the rapid emergence of technology.

Tempered Thinking on Disruptive Innovation 
Donahoe was asked if eBay had any plans to enter new or adjacent industries in the future, in pursuit of innovation and growth. While he had come out swinging in 2008 with a plan for disruptive innovation, it’s clear by his answer to the question that he’s tempered his thinking over the years.

He said eBay is more focused on incremental innovations. “They are small things that make a big difference. For eBay, search effectiveness being improved 2 percent really moves the needle on our growth, or for PayPal, if we improve our risk models 2 percent, it really moves the needle on growth.”

But he hasn’t given up disruptive innovation by any means. He said eBay focuses 10 percent on the more disruptive innovation – “the ones that you say, “I’m not sure if it’s going to work or it’s not, but we’re going to drive and give it a try.””

As for what competitor he fears most: “Our challenge is that we need to continue disrupting ourselves before someone disrupts us,” Donahoe said. “The competition that I worry most about in many cases hasn’t been created yet.”

You can find the interview with the eBay CEO on the PWC.com website.

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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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.