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Wed Apr 29 2009 11:00:52

Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

By: Greg Holden

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Hi everyone, I'm Greg Holden, author and regular contributor to AuctionBytes. I'll be live-blogging the annual eBay Annual Meeting of Stockholders from San Jose, California. I'm not in San Jose, unfortunately. I'm in cloudy and chilly Chicago, looking in from a computer screen. I'm not expecting controversy of the sort that enlivened last year's eBay Live, but who knows? The people at PETA will probably do their best to make things lively. We'll see.

The topics to be discussed are:

1. To vote on the election of Marc L. Andreessen, William C. Ford, Jr., Dawn G. Lepore, Pierre M. Omidyar and Richard T. Schlosberg, III as directors, to hold office until our 2012 Annual Meeting of Stockholders.

2. To approve amendments to certain of our existing equity incentive plans to allow for a one-time stock option exchange program for employees other than our named executive officers and directors.

3. To approve the amendment and restatement of our 2008 Equity Incentive Award Plan to increase the aggregate number of shares authorized for issuance under the plan by 50 million shares and to add market share and volume metrics as performance criteria under the plan.

4. To ratify the selection of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as our independent auditors for our fiscal year ending December 31, 2009.

5. To transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting or any adjournment or postponement of the meeting.

As you probably know, Marc Andreessen helped invent the first graphical Web browser, Mosaic (later called Netscape), while a student at the University of Illinois. Now he's on the board of directors of eBay. What does that say about the evolution of the Web?

More to come...


While we're waiting for this meeting to begin (it's late), I might note that tickets to the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting are being offered on eBay for $5.. Do you think tickets to eBay's own annual meeting would fetch a price on eBay?

(It's started now...)



Pierre Omidyar (founder and Chairman of the Board) has begun the official annual shareholders meeting.

"...able to respond to appropriate questions." Wish Pierre would define the word "appropriate."

Ina and I are noticing how many board members are attending not in person but through eBay's own Skype. Doesn't anyone want to go to California?

Each of the items up for vote was approved, and without discussion. John Donahoe will now give a presentation. (Standard disclosure from eBay about forward-looking statements.)

Remarks by John Donahoe: eBay sellers are in attendance! Good for them! Make this interesting!

A commercial for Skype. Nice work, John.

"our mission as a company has been to connect buyers and sellers." I wonder if the stockholders would truly agree. Since eBay is public, is the mission not to make money? I'm just askin'.

"...In what is a very changing Internet environment." I wish Donahoe would elaborate on this - does it mean eBay has (shudder) more competition?

"...while generating strong returns for you, our shareholders..." I think the shareholders would have something to say about this, as the stock has performed poorly of late.

"It will grow with very changing customer behaviors." True, more people will be buying online, and more people will be looking for bargains. So logically, you would think more people will be shopping on eBay.

"...we see customer behavior shifting over the next five years..." Seems more like five months to me; more and more people (including me) are already shopping on their cell phones and other devices. 


"I will show you how we are positioning our company to win in the future." PayPal now has more volume than eBay? I did not know that. Wow.

It is interesting that Donahoe is starting out talking not about auctions or eBay Stores but about PayPal. It's always good to start with good news.

"eBay was tremendously successful in the e-commerce environment of the past, but e-commerce is shifting and moving." Hm, looks like we are going to hear about changes at eBay. I'm tingling with excitement!

- eBay Playbook needs to be updated based on what buyers and sellers expect in "today's online world."

-Auctions used to be a strategy; now it is just one of several sales formats.

-No more simply tweaking the eBay model but *transforming* it.

(More focus on customer driven innovation; Auctions is a format and a choice; We are evolving our company to provide choice.)

More classifieds, more StubHub, more ways to connect buyers and sellers.

"We are creating the "new eBay."" Sounds like New Coke.

Donahoe is expecting eBay to be behind the market for a while, then with the market, then ahead of the market in 2011. This is sort of what we expected them to say - just give us a few years and we'll do fine. 

Yes, we love Skype. But we never think of it as part of eBay.

So it will be made an IPO in 2010 because of "limited synergies with eBay and PayPal." In other words, buyers and sellers don't really need it. It's a nice frill.


Question Time. Let's have some fun!

Tony Mezzapelli (sic), shareholder: "I came here because my shares have gone down 50 percent." (He is the first person to acknowledge this.) "Why haven't these changes happened sooner? Don't we have a lot of world-class analytics and data mining people who can keep us in real time on top of changes in the business?" Good questions.

Donahoe does not respond to the comment about share prices going down. I guess I can't blame him.

"Other competition has moved faster."

That's honest. Amazon.com is moving faster. What I'm seeing from the stories I am doing for AuctionBytes is that smaller marketplaces give better service and communication to buyers and sellers and are being more innovative, more quickly. Isn't this just the problem all successful businesses face as they grow into big entitles?

Donahoe talks about the search experience and this is important but other sites are letting customers do discussions with prospective customers and other innovative features like the Daily Deal.

Next questioner: Concerned about privacy. What are you doing to ensure that buyers' privacy is protected? Asks Pierre a flurry of questions about past history. Unfortunately, gives eBay a chance to avoid controversial questions.

Pierre on privacy: Companies need to be very clear about what they disclose with regard to customer data. I hope you will hold us to that standard.

Pierre on starting the company: Came to U.S. when 6 years old; Strong entrepreneurial culture in the Valley; risk taking is rewarded here. I was trying to create a service that I would find useful and that others would find useful. Creating a product that would bring people together, that was based on the notion that people were basically good. The business aspect came later.



While Pierre talks about philosophy I am reflecting on Donahoe's comment that in 2011 the company will be growing ahead of the marketplace so it looks like he is saying it will take two years rather than three for eBay to get back on track.

Aren't there any other questions?

PETA, where are you?

What about the possibility of issuing stock dividends? Looks like eBay got off easy to me.




Comments (43) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Linda

Wed Apr 29 11:47:59 2009

Why doesn't someone point out that ebays actions are what is prompting the growth everywhere else?

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: MsFish213

Wed Apr 29 11:58:39 2009

Good job.  Too bad this meeting was just a waste of energy and time! Total dud.  

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: scriptorical

Wed Apr 29 12:04:57 2009

Tony Mezzapelli writes:....."I came here because my shares have gone down 50 percent." (He is the first person to acknowledge this.) "Why haven't these changes happened sooner?....Am I missing something here but didn't these changes contribute to the low stock price. Wasn't the stock price around $30 when the changes were put into affect?

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Greg

Wed Apr 29 12:08:02 2009

I think Tony was referring to the nebulous "changes to come", i.e., the way eBay is going to "transform" itself in the near future, not the changes to feedback and other recent developments.

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Daisy

Wed Apr 29 12:13:36 2009

YAWN. Not at you, Greg :)

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: nora

Wed Apr 29 12:15:21 2009

I believe Paypal got a pop first quarter, since they forced most Ebay Sellers to use it as the only form of payment in the US. Paypal was not organic growth, but forced. I wonder what second quarter will look like when they don't have anymore people to force into using Paypal.

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Greg

Wed Apr 29 12:16:17 2009

You can yawn at me if you want. I was just talking to David and we can't believe how quickly this wrapped up. It says something about the eBay "community," which is not what it once was, and about the company itself. Ah, for the good old days!

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Scriptorical

Wed Apr 29 12:18:10 2009

Current stock price around $16.50. If Tony lost 50% as he says then he would have purchased this around $32.00 when the policy changes went into effect, So I figured he was commenting on that set of changes being put into effect sooner.

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Greg

Wed Apr 29 12:19:50 2009

I see, you're probably right.

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Fruity

Wed Apr 29 12:52:17 2009

Wow, Pierre does something eh.
Wow, board members don't show up instead use skype, a product they didn't market very well to the US ebay.com site and a product they plan to sell off, that's sharp.. like a wad of gum

JD wants a few more years? LOL. Hey if you can't execute against a plan to begin with and you blame it all on everything but your team, why do you think we'd give you even a few more months

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Fruity

Wed Apr 29 12:56:51 2009

Hey, can't wait til this summers promo so you can price drop everything on the ebay.com site with the India listings. Maybe they will skype from another country next time, considering they're gonna price jam the listings again and put out American small businesses.. AGAIN. I guess its OK when you told Congress yesterday you were about enabling small businesses, that you meant the international small businesses. During these times when the working class are one foot in the dump, I guess its OK. Hey do you even know Red White and Blue or is it just green backs to you

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Fruity

Wed Apr 29 12:59:09 2009

Hey Greg, what's with the ebay sellers presence at this shareholder meeting? Did they say anything or what? I got me my wad of shares, maybe I'll go next year. Make their day. Me and Mr. Microphone

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Harriet

Wed Apr 29 13:15:02 2009

Meanwhile on the stock front, Zack's has issued a not so good report on eBay.

http://www.zacks.com/commentary/10746/+Not+All+Internet+S
tocks+Are+Attractive+1074600

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: nora

Wed Apr 29 13:15:23 2009

Pierre is a puppet. He is manipulated by Donahoe and the Board of Directors. He is not a business man.

He has his billions and still has over 167,000,000 shares, so what does he care.

He is just Ebay's mascot now.

Pierre has no kahuna's and won't change things around for Ebay.

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Patricia

Wed Apr 29 13:20:10 2009

I don't know where I've ever seen a group of such stupid people....they seem content to let Donahoe get away with murder.  This amounts to someone ransacking your home in front of your eyes and you just sit back and blandly smile...

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Greg Holden

Wed Apr 29 13:21:09 2009

Fruity, Maybe shareholders should all show up by Skype. If board members can do that, why can't you?

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Apr 29 13:25:38 2009

How appropriate. I guess we now know beyond any doubt which corporation has the dumbest stockholders.

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: usher the lap dog

Wed Apr 29 13:42:30 2009

waste of time. You think they would allow any real questions thru?

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Peter Leeflang / LEEFLANG ARCHIVES CORP.

Wed Apr 29 14:39:24 2009

What does it mean that John Donahoe says:

'More focus on customer driven innovation; Auctions is a format and a choice; We are evolving our company to provide choice.'

Is that the usual Ebay spin where they'll now start saying that we sellers asked for their changes, that we CHOSE them?

Or are they actually going to make their functionality optional, like it should be with a true market place?

So am I going to see opt in and opt outs for:

a) Paypal
b) Resolution process
c) Feedback
d) DSRs
e) Shipping/Handling amount caps
f) Insufficient buyer contact details
g) Best Match search results positioning
etc.

Wouldn't that type of choices for sellers be wonderful? :-)

Live Blogging eBay's  Annual Shareholder Meeting   Live Blogging eBay's Annual Shareholder Meeting

by: Kal

Wed Apr 29 15:44:52 2009

I...  Just... Want... To... Throw... Up.

Wasn't there anyone there who was an actual seller on eBay who has taken 18 month of ABUSE from this management team that could take them to task about their draconian polices? What a bunch of crap.

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