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These Engineers Say They’re Improving eBay Technology

eBay
These Engineers Say They're Improving eBay Technology

Two engineers said they’re improving eBay technology – if they succeed, will it make a difference to sellers? The pair gave a presentation on Thursday at QCon Plus, “a virtual conference for senior software engineers and architects that covers the trends, best practices, and solutions leveraged by the world’s most innovative software organizations.”

Randy Shoup, eBay VP of Engineering and Chief Architect, and Mark Weinberg, Vice President of Core Product Engineering, spoke about a new approach.

They were brutal in their assessment of problems they identified. One disclosure that speaks to concerns of online sellers was about managed payments:

“We found we’re really flying blind in a lot of places. Alerting, better observability gives us more confidence to deploy faster or roll back faster. eBay, for example, is managing payments now, and so when it comes to managing payments and money, you have to be able to detect and resolve issues quickly. We couldn’t fly blind.”

The conversation was technical, but some things that jumped out: previously, Shoup and Weinberg’s areas worked independently. (“There was a tension between the product side of the organization and the platform and infrastructure side of the organization. What we’re doing is breaking it down.”)

They’ve since broken down barriers and work together closely. The pair speak to each other daily.

In addition, the pair do “weekly deep dives with the teams, where we coach them. We push them. We find additional bottlenecks. We really just work closely to help them find issues.”

And Shoup and Weinberg said they conduct monthly operating reviews that executive leadership sees – this keeps them up to date and engaged. That’s important because, “it’s not a short-term program. It’s something that needs investment nurturing for the long term. Keeping them up to date really helps with that.”

In fact, they said they’re getting a lot of support from eBay CEO Jamie Iannone, who highlights their efforts at the all-hands meetings and executive meetings. “He keeps talking about how it’s the most important initiative at the company,… I love the fact that our executive team is seeing the value of this work and wanting to invest even more in it going forward.”

By the way, if the name Randy Shoup sounds familiar to some readers, it’s because he helped build eBay’s Cassini search engine years ago.

Execution has always been eBay’s greatest weakness – it’s easy to come up with innovative ideas, harder to put them into practice. 2018 was a particularly difficult year for sellers in terms of technical issues, which former eBay CEO Devin Wenig and two of his top lieutenants acknowledged in surprisingly frank interviews.

Is the current CEO on the right track, despite some skepticism we’ve read of his “tech-led reimagination” of eBay? If there are techies among you who can glean anything else from last week’s presentation by Shoup and Weinberg (found on Infoq.com), feel free to share your thoughts.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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/.

11 thoughts on “These Engineers Say They’re Improving eBay Technology”

  1. 5 YEARS! 5 YEARS! They had 5 years to plan Mangled Payments. What were they doing? Its been over 2 years since its introduction, again what have they been doing? The platform is so buggy, it drives away good sellers to other platforms. Some of those platforms have only been around for a few years, yet their foundations are light years ahead of eBay.

    I’d be embarrassed to say I worked on any technology team at eBay, they are only know for incompetence and failures.

  2. Until I see many of the long-term bugs fixed, I won’t put much faith in eBay’s “engineering” at all. There seems to be NO version control, and bugs that had been fixed re-appear in six months, only to cause mayhem again. Honestly, there is no real means of reporting bugs; I have 40+ years programming experience and still get the “have you cleared your browser cache?” question, along with a resistance to even ADMITTING there are bugs. Perhaps Ina and David can show Shoup and Weinberg some of the E-Commerce EKG entries, as there are a lot of them still occurring (the deformed photos when replying to customer questions is still going on), and come on, guys, how hard is it really to keep a system stable? You’re introducing bugs where there were none before!

    Actually, like so much that is eBay today, I’ll believe this when I see results. Shoup’s association with Cassini alone doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies!

  3. Interesting this would be brought out now. As a programmer for 40+ years, I find eBay’s IT and programming capabilities atrocious. I’ve watched bugs be “fixed” every six months, only to pop up again in another six months. A current issue simply displaying listing photos in a buyer question and reply – which previously has worked for 25 YEARS – has been broken now for weeks. Contacting eBay “support” about it is useless; considering eBay has no good means of reporting technical issues or bugs, that shouldn’t be surprising.

    That Shoup was part of the team that built “Cassini’, which has often been called “Can’tSeeMe” by sellers, doesn’t bode well for the direction of this project at all.

    eBay needs a good method to allow technical reporting of problems, and they need to stop freezing the “System Status Board” at all green indicators when there are serious ongoing problems with the system. We realize that the “System Status” is more to make Wall Street think everything is peachy, but those who USE the system know otherwise.

  4. He Built eBay’s Cassini search engine years ago:

    Thats when all the problems started on ebay. searching by Title ; Catergory; description, was a huge MISTAKE!
    So if you think the guy who screwed up ebay search system is going to help eBay, guess again! Same ole shitty programming done by the lowest bidder in India!

  5. Why is eBay unable to fix Managed Payments reporting? Sales totals matching 1099-K amounts are nowhere to be found in payouts reports or monthly PDF Financial Statements. Why is eBay unable or reluctant to share sales totals with sellers or provide fee reporting that can easily be filled in various lines in an IRS Schedule C form?

  6. “By the way, if the name Randy Shoup sounds familiar to some readers, it’s because he helped build eBay’s Cassini search engine years ago.”

    And we all know how great Cassini worked..NOT.

  7. Well, unless and until these 2 will come in under the radar to turn back the Clock on Ebay,
    no reason for celebration.
    If WE aren’t cheering, they’ve missed the boat…..again.

  8. Interesting this would be brought out now. As a programmer for 40+ years, I find eBay’s IT and programming capabilities atrocious. I’ve watched bugs be “fixed” every six months, only to pop up again in another six months. A current issue simply displaying listing photos in a buyer question and reply – which previously has worked for 25 YEARS – has been broken now for weeks. Contacting eBay “support” about it is useless; considering eBay has no good means of reporting technical issues or bugs, that shouldn’t be surprising.

    That Shoup was part of the team that built “Cassini’, which has often been called “Can’tSeeMe” by sellers, doesn’t bode well for the direction of this project at all.

    eBay needs a good method to allow technical reporting of problems, and they need to stop freezing the “System Status Board” at all green indicators when there are serious ongoing problems with the system. We realize that the “System Status” is more to make Wall Street think everything is peachy, but those who USE the system know otherwise.

  9. but they are already the self proclaimed greatest tech company.

    I really doubt if they will do anything except create more glitch’s

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