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Sat Oct 11 2008 00:14:06

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

By: Ina Steiner

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uBid laid off about 12 of its 91 employees on Monday, the same day eBay laid off 1,000 employees and several hundred temps. Infopia chipped in with 12 of its employees, making it a Pink-Slip trifecta. (ChannelAdvisor was four weeks early with a 20 percent workforce reduction last month.)

uBid, which recently changed its name to Enable Holdings, had to distance itself from The Petters Group last week after it was revealed Petters was being investigated by the Feds. (Yesterday's Washington Post article chronicled the scandal, reporting that Petters is in jail "accused of spearheading an elaborate Ponzi scheme since the mid-1990s, in which he allegedly dummied up fake sales transactions between his company and Big-Box stores like Sam's Club, Costco and BJ's Wholesale Club to entice investors.")

Enable Holdings spokesperson Ryan Calverley reiterated today that the Petters Group does not own Enable Holdings - it's a shareholder - and that it had no involvement with the day-to-day running of uBid. The Petters Group does own companies, including Polaroid, and the Star Tribune reported that about 50 employees of Petters Group Worldwide companies were expected to get layoff notices on Friday.

Calverley told me today that layoffs at Enable Holdings had nothing to do with the troubles facing Petters. Monday's layoffs had more to do with what's happening on Wall Street, he said, and the fact "we got too big, too quick."

Just one day after Pink-Slip Monday, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital sounded the alarm in its now famous "R.I.P.: Good Times" presentation, warning its portfolio companies to slash their burn rate (cut expenses) and become profitable quickly. The new thinking is that VC-funded firms need to change course to focus on revenue rather than growth, and that companies need to be cash-flow positive.

In a seemingly perverse logic (and unfortunately for employees), layoffs may be seen as a positive these days - a sign that companies are focused on profitability and not burying their head in the sand.

While retailers may be concerned by all the doom and gloom, small online sellers may be better positioned than their big-box retail brethren. With low overhead and a focus on the bottom line, they already operate lean and mean. Many operate as "liquidators" and know how to haggle. Sellers who can move on a dime and adjust strategies quickly may actually thrive in a downturn.

Everyone is cash-hungry, and a large seller I spoke to today said suppliers are willing to significantly mark down goods to convert inventory to cash.

The trick for online sellers, as always, is to get eyeballs to their listings. eBay's not the marketplace it was during the dot-com implosion. (Remember the listings for high-end office furniture from failed Internet companies that launched the careers of many an eBayer?) Sellers these days need to know how to get shoppers and make smart inventory and pricing moves.

People still need goods - clothes, electronics, supplies and toys for the kids. But shoppers - like venture capitalists and ecommerce firms - are being smarter with their dollars.




Comments (10) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: republican voting democratic

Sat Oct 11 15:25:32 2008

Gee this has been up for hours and no one has a comment. Guess we are just supposed to feel sorry for them. NOT

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: Keith

Sat Oct 11 16:00:16 2008

So Ina (or any one else),

Where are all these cash hungry suppliers?  How would you get eyeballs to your listings?  Where would you list considering eBays sad state of well being?  Just thought I would ask...

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: uBidRefugee

Sat Oct 11 20:38:02 2008

uBid did not tell you everything first of all they laid off 22 people not 12.  They kept all of their vp's and laid off the people who really do the work.  

Management is clueless and the lay offs were to keep the doors open they almost had to close down when they were not able to pay money back to a lender.  I could say more but I think that I have said too much.

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: noneya

Sat Oct 11 20:38:49 2008

How bout a story on Paypal and WHY WHY WHY they are able to legally remove funds from sellers bank accounts WEEKS after a sale has been completed based on customers decisions such as ''changed my mind'' ''don't like the color'' ''don't like it enough to pay for it, but don't feel like returning it either'' ''thought vintage meant brand new''?

Isn't paypal's buyer protection policy similar to a 5 finger discount upon request?

Tired of hearing stories of sellers losing hundreds of dollars in charge backs and to disputes opened weeks after delivery even though the item has arrived safely in as described condition.  

Would like to hear a story of a seller successfully fighting back against Paypal instead of just bending over and taking it.

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: Matthew

Sat Oct 11 21:44:57 2008

I still see thousands of jobs posted on employment sites.

www.linkedin.com (networking)
www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
www.realmatch.com (matches you to jobs)

good luck to those searching for jobs.

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: dollin

Sat Oct 11 23:54:35 2008

When I started in this industry I truly felt that it was different. I thought that employers really did care more about the employees than the bottom line. It is apparent to me recently that the only thing that truly matters to these executives is how much their own pockets will be lines. It is very disappointing to me to see this. I believed in this industry and the companies I have worked for (3 of which are named in this article). This industry is the same as every other. It is all about the money. There is no loyalty. This is apparent is the greed running rampant on Wall Street and the 850 Billion dollars that you and I are now paying.

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: Japan Web Design

Sun Oct 12 06:36:22 2008

Pay pal is one of may daily looking ....
Others are ebay and various. but to say about a story on Paypal is something different. Management is clueless and the lay offs were to keep the doors open they almost had to close down when they were not able to pay money back to a lender.
bUT  fad up of all why? no one is getting all things at one place....
what you think do ebay and paypal must combine for profit? wonder.

Japan Web Design

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: Spa Dreamers

Mon Oct 13 16:38:17 2008

Be smart keep your PayPal balance as low as possible or empty even.  Use a payment processor like ProPay - the even offer a trail free credit card service which lasts forever.  Also, eBay is what it is because of its leadership for some reason it became OK to let such an awesome idea go to the crapper over and over again... They need to take a fresh look at what they are doing - or at this point do they care since they already have bulging bank accounts.  Someone needs to be brave enough to create another online auction company that can be as success and more if greed does not take over 1st.  

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: mindelec

Tue Oct 14 16:53:46 2008

i've heard a rumor that the entire community relations staff at ebay except for griff and two others received pink slips.  guess all pretenses are over about the community being important.

Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs   Pink-Slip Monday for Ecommerce with uBid, eBay Layoffs

by: Realityczech

Sat Nov 15 12:13:45 2008

Looks like the ubid firings were a bit more than 12 people as the 3rd quarter results indicate 31% of the employees (mostly at the corp office) were let go. No wath wiz am I, but looks like 28 poor souls is closer to the truth.



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