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eBay’s Chief Technology Officer Discusses AI, Competition, and Uncertain Times

eBay's Chief Technology Officer Discusses AI, Competition, and Uncertain Times

eBay has 1.6 billion listings live on its marketplaces, the company’s Chief Technology Officer told the host of the Modern CTO podcast, Joel Beasley. Mazen Rawashdeh said that volume gives eBay massive data that helps serve the purpose of eBay: connecting communities to create economic opportunities.

Rawashdeh rattled off the categories that eBay has prioritized (its “focus categories”) as well as mentioning refurbished goods – another of its priorities. And he talked about features that eBay had launched in trading cards and sneakers, such as the 3D zoom feature in sneakers (3D True View) that it launched last year.

The 3D feature designed to help shoppers came up when the host asked Rawashdeh about how eBay was using AI (artificial intelligence). eBay is also leveraging AI in many other areas including fraud and within its infrastructure in the backend, he said, but computer vision and NLP is pretty exciting. (AI is not a product, it’s an ecosystem, he said.)

Rawashdeh is not worried about competition from Facebook Marketplace or rival sneaker marketplaces – in fact, he said, competition is good – it sparks creative thinking. But he never allows himself to be driven by others.

“It would be naïve for anybody not to use the product of their competition.” You have to see what you can learn from it, he said, otherwise you are complacent. But it doesn’t drive eBay’s strategy from a technology standpoint.

His advice for tech leaders going through uncertain times: Don’t try to be a perfectionist. He said surround yourself with the right people, bounce ideas off them, and ask for help when you need it.

eBay provided a summary of Rawashdeh’s discussion on its corporate blog, explaining he was back to work refreshed and energized from a sabbatical. You can listen to the full podcast on ModernCTO.io.

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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/.