|Wed Aug 19 2009 23:58:27|
eBay Silences Founding 'Voices' Members
By: Ina Steiner
The new eBay team put into place last year after long-time CEO Meg Whitman retired has been slashing payroll and eliminating programs. Its latest target is the 10-year old Voices of the Community program, commonly referred to as "Voices."
eBay is ejecting the oldest members from the program, whose participants give eBay monthly input into programs during their development and pre-launch. There are 47 groups in Voices comprised of about 130 active members. Over 30 are being ejected from the program. Voices members are not paid, and some of them worked within the program for a decade to help eBay grow the site.
A source familiar with the decision to retire Voices founding members said eBay wants to focus on big sellers and buyers now as the site moves in that direction.
eBay has been giving perks to large retailers to entice them to the site, and it has moved away from investments in community by canceling its annual user conference and laying off its discussion board moderators, where both buyers and sellers gather to talk about everything from collecting and fashion to buying and selling tips.
In research for an article we published about the Voices program in 2004, some sellers explained that they stayed in Voices so they know what's coming down the road, and prefer to be in the loop on future developments.
In a 2003 eBay Chatter newsletter article, the Community Development Voices Coordinator at the time said of the program's creation, "CEO Meg Whitman decided that eBay should hear what members had to say face-to-face."
Update 8/20/09: Please see the update to the Newsflash story - I spoke with Garnor Morantes, Senior Manager of Seller Development for eBay Marketplaces, about the changes to the Voices program.