At the eBay Developer's Conference in June, I interviewed Senior Director Eric Billingsley who heads the eBay Research Labs (LINK). Billingsley now appears on PodTech.net's ScobleShow in an interview with A-list blogger Robert Scoble, formerly of Microsoft (LINK). It's an interesting look at eBay's attempts to improve the "finding experience" and help solve problems (warning: it's really long).
About two-thirds along there is a mention of a project code-named DaVinci in which eBay identifies communities. I'm not sure exactly what eBay is doing to foster and support those communities, Eric mentioned MeetUp and Skype. It sounds like an early-stage project and perhaps they aren't releasing details.
Just checked with Director of Corporate Communication at eBay Hani Durzy, who said, "If I remember the video correctly, I think Eric says that is just the internal name they use in Research Labs to describe the social networking project they are working on that uses eBay activity data to create a new social-network-type view into eBay. Like all things in eBay Research Labs, these are experiments, and not necessarily things that will ever see the light of day."
I know that many users feel eBay should focus on the here-and-now problems, and I agree; eBay Matchups generated some of those types of comments (LINK). I do think the concept of an internal "think-tank" is good. It's like when you take a vacation and mull over your business and come up with ideas that you would never have had during your daily grind!
I also strongly agree with the general sentiment that eBay should not introduce new features during the all-important fourth quarter.