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Wed May 24 2006 17:51:44

Bear Stearns Internet Roundtable

By: Ina Steiner

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 I flew to New York on Tuesday to attend day two of Bear Stearns Internet Roundtable. I don't usually pay much attention to the Wall Street angle of eBay, but the conference agenda was really amazing. This was more of an Internet industry conference than a Wall Street conference. This was the kind of conference where you would pay thousands of dollars to get into (link).

I was sorry I missed hearing the Alibaba session on Monday. A few people I spoke to on Tuesday said, "game over" for eBay in China. Alibaba CTO John Wu apparently made an impression on attendees that Alibaba was handily beating eBay Eachnet. I didn't hear the talk, I know the battle has been contentious, I'm just passing along a few people's impressions.

Tom Woolston of MercExchange spoke about the status of the patent battle with eBay. I think the reaction from the crowd was wait-and-see, probably because this thing has been going on for so long. And Tom said he wants to move powersellers to a licensed platform such as uBid. Not the way to fire up an eBay PowerSeller. My opinion: I don't think people want to be told that the eBay fixed-price options are going away, and I think people can't comprehend that eBay would allow that to happen.

None of us knows what will happen at the District Court, but the day of reckoning is fast approaching.

Scot Wingo of ChannelAdvisor and Jonathan Garriss of Gotham City Online and Executive Director of PESA are very good speakers, and didn't disappoint. The impression I got from some of the panels is that people are really counting on eBay Express to revive eBay. A lot is riding on eBay Express, hold on to your hats.

It was interesting to watch Wall Street show concern over challenges facing eBay, such as fraud. Wall Street's focus for the last 8 years on short-term growth is exactly why some of these challenges affecting eBay exist to the extent they do. If eBay had spent more resources on fraud, customer service and technology, they would be in a much better position now.

I had a chance to speak to Jeff Grass, Steve Woda and Mary Dridi of BuySafe; Scot Wingo and Jessica of ChannelAdvisor; Rodrigo Sales of Vendio; Tom Woolston, Michael May and Michael Caputo of MercExchange; Jonathan Garriss of PESA; Adam Hersh, an eBay PowerSeller (; and another PowerSeller from Toronto whose name I forget (sorry!).

And I had a chance to meet Bob Peck, Managing Director Principal of Bear Stearns, who organized the roundtable. He moderated all of the panels, and asked some great questions. He seems to have an excellent understanding of what's taking place in the auction industry. Kudos on a great conference, and thanks for allowing me to attend this one-of-a-kind event.

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by: Patricia

Wed Jun 7 16:00:46 2006

Well, its about time investors stopped looking at short term grown and looked into the real problems looming large within Ebay itself.  They have soured so many buyers and sellers with their ''this is only a venue'' excuse while withholding any kind of customer service or attention to rampant fraud on the site.  One need only look into the amount of fake Picassos, Monets, Chagall's, etc. to know that fraud is rampant and, for the most part, ignored.  As an artist selling on Ebay for 8 years, I know what its like to report fraudulent art auctions only to have them run their course anyway.  Its a useless activity since Ebay stands to make big money out of the fees and final value fees so therefore they cast a blind eye on the frauds.  This, and their arrogant heavy-handed attitude towards both its buyers and sellers will be the downfall of Ebay - it is already showing cracks in its facade and they will become more apparent as they eventually run out of a fresh supply of buyers and sellers.  Soon, raises in fees and free listing days won't cover the mistakes and temporarily make Ebay look good.  Its about time you understood that these are the real reasons Ebay is going nowhere fast!  Their attitude has always been ''take it or leave it'' and now most are leaving it!

My only hope is that perhaps some corporation will eat them up - change the management and put good business practices in place.  Ebay is far far from perfect but its still the only game in town and even though they treat us badly many of us would be financially hurt to see it go.

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