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Tue Feb 2 2010 13:54:41

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay has a search problem, according to the former Director of eBay Express North America. Adam Nash, now Vice President of Search & Platform Products at LinkedIn, blogged today about the difficulty shoppers have in finding products on eBay. Mr. Nash is qualified to discuss the issue - among his tasks at eBay: "Define product features and strategy for search classification & infrastructure supporting the eBay marketplace."

While there are plenty of eBay critics on the Internet, none are as interesting as the company's former employees. They have unique insights into the company culture, management thought-process, and approaches to technology and their blog posts offer the occasional glimpse into the inner workings of the company. Alan Lewis has blogged about cultural issues that impact strategy (link); Raghav Gupta about eBay search; Shripriya Mahesh about innovation at eBay; and Dave McClure blogged yesterday about PayPal's "password problem."

In Mr. Nash's blog post, "eBay's Value Problem is a Search Problem" (link), he explained that his friend, a Google engineer, could not find a particular Star Trek DVD set on eBay at a significantly lower price than he could find on Amazon.com, even though they existed. "(eBay) can never beat Amazon or traditional retailer e-commerce sites on trust and convenience. They can, however, beat them on price and selection. But customers have to be able to find those advantages to value them." (He was able to find the DVD set on eBay for $198 from a "top rated seller with returns" using some intricate search techniques.)

This was not Mr. Nash's first blog post about problems at eBay. In 2008, he wrote "A Eulogy for eBay Express" in which he covered in some detail "why eBay launched eBay Express, what we got right, what we got wrong, and why eBay Express likely doesn't fit with eBay's current strategy." The post is especially interesting this week, following eBay's announcement of changes coming at the end of March in which it pushes sellers into Store subscriptions. Mr. Nash explained eBay's premise in creating eBay Express, a fixed-price marketplace it launched in 2006 and closed in 2008:

"Our entire reason for building a separate site was because we believed that the changes needed for buyers and sellers in a massive fixed-price marketplace were not compatible with the experience of the traditional eBay auction site. As I used to tell buyers and sellers, we built eBay Express so that we would not have to change the auction experience that millions of buyers and sellers loved on eBay.com."

Raghav Gupta, a Research Scientist at eBay Research Labs from 2002 - 2008, built eBay's Related searches product in 2005 and agreed to an interview with AuctionBytes in 2008 after I spotted his blog post, "An Ode to eBay." He discussed eBay's search features and stated, "I think individual users should be able to choose  the factors they want to sort/filter their result by, without anything being imposed. In that scenario, you will agree that the more factors available, the better. Imagine being able to combine keywords and factors as you see fit to create your own perfect search."

He also said he believed that while there was a lot of good innovation happening at eBay in terms of demos and prototypes and contests, "hardly anything worthwhile ever makes it out."

But ex-eBayers are also concerned about potential signals they may send when they write about their former employer. Shripriya Mahesh, former Vice President of Corporate Strategy, recently bloggedabout eBay's lost opportunities in a post about the problems large corporations have in fostering innovation.

When I invited Ms. Mahesh to an interview to discuss her blog post last week, she declined, writing, "If I keep blogging about this topic, it will be seen as something more negative than constructive criticism and that is not my goal at all."

While eBay employees blogs may get passed around the user community when they are discovered, they generally don't make a big impact on the more general blogosphere. But former PayPal employee Dave McClure made a splash yesterday with a post about PayPal's "password problem." (Warning: his post includes cursing and is not suitable for children - link.)

Mr. McClure's post, which lit up the Twitter-sphere with retweets, was about what he saw as a necessary change in business models from CPM- or CPC-advertising to subscriptions and transactions (ecommerce, digital goods). In it, he revealed that the far-and-away number-one customer service problem and cost at PayPal was something called "forgotten password recovery." "That's a nice way to say that people can't remember their (expletive deleted) password." He went on to write that, "Password Friction at PayPal led to an unfortunate series of events which caused some signicant (sic) percentage of our users to HATE us with a PASSION that is usually reserved for politicians and lawyers."

Mr. McClure has been investing in early stage startups for years and recently launched his own venture fund and is well known in Silicon Valley.



It would be interesting to know what eBay's top management thinks of the perspective of former employees. Interestingly, eBay CEO John Donahoe himself once considered blogging. He consulted eBay's corporate blogger Richard Brewer-Hay, who advised Mr. Donahoe to leave his blogging to eBay's internal Intranet, and leave the public blogging to him on the eBay Ink blog.

Perhaps we'll have to wait until Mr. Donahoe leaves eBay to hear his thoughts (and perhaps rebuttals) on his former employees' critiques.




Comments (94) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: fruity

Tue Feb 2 14:18:24 2010

I like Adam Nash, he's dreamy. I never have bad things to say about him. I think the problem is the Bain marketing consultants running this ship

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: fruity

Tue Feb 2 14:30:13 2010

ps. Richard Brewer Hay is just trying to keep himself in a job. If you look up his credentials, he really wasn't much of anything in media or blogging compared to the hype of what the press releases were saying about him.

pps. I dont think anyone expects a like John Donahoe to say anything other than patronizing rhetoric. Puppets dont have opinions, they have consultants

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: Money Orders Man

Tue Feb 2 14:35:13 2010

Ina, A subject that needs investigating at Ebay is the so called 4th quarter glitch. Ebay wrongfully with held millions in seller funds, (please check the Ebay Paypal boards) many sellers with 15,000+ feedback had 21 day holds enacted & were told "they did nothing wrong" as you blogged about in December. Well, Paypal acknowledged the issue here:

amanda@paypal.com http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/amanda%40paypal.comhttp://members.ebay
.com/aboutme/amanda%40paypal.com
View
Listings

Posts: 1,717
Payment Hold error resolved
Jan 22, 2010 3:54 PM
 Report
Hi All,



PayPal uses payment holds to ensure that sellers have sufficient funds in their accounts if, for example, a buyer files a dispute. In deciding whether to apply payment holds, PayPal reviews many factors including transaction activity, business type, and customer disputes.

PayPal did experience a recent system issue where some sellers' funds were incorrectly held as part of this policy. PayPal has corrected the problem, so any sellers who should not have been affected by the policy have already been notified had their funds released.

The issue has been corrected and we apologize for any confusion.

Learn more about our funds availability policy

Amanda
However they have refused to explain this glitch or offer any kind of make good or even an apology to affected users. This is unjust enrichment, as Paypal held these funds to gain interest.
""Mistaken receipts and misdirected funds expose banks to multi-faceted liability and generate some of the most knotty legal issues, in particular restitution for unjust enrichment and dishonest assistance in breach of trust or fiduciary duty. "

"First, for the purposes of the liability for dishonest assistance in a breach of trust or fiduciary duty, dishonesty is measured by an objective standard, so the defendant's conduct would be considered dishonest if it was so regarded by the standards of honest and reasonable men. The application of the objective dishonesty test leads to asking two questions in the following order: First, what is the defendant's actual knowledge of the relevant transactions? Second, in light of the defendant's knowledge, would a reasonable person regard the defendant's conduct as dishonest? "

I believe they should be prosecuted and forced to prove there was an actual glitch. Ina, remember, Watergate started out small & brought down a president. I think this is clear proof Paypal has lied on filings and to their users, and they are continuing these actions, many new users are affected & posting. Please investigate this fraud.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: Money Orders Man

Tue Feb 2 15:12:02 2010

PS Ina there was an update to PP rules 1/21/10 that we cannot get any information about. Any post referencing this secret update is removed from the PP board by Sandy Purins, Ebay attorney.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: Marvin

Tue Feb 2 15:36:31 2010

@Money Orders Man

Paypal has one big glitch, it's called the ebay quarterly report. To rake in money and make ebay look good to shareholders ebay has to grab as much customer money in paypal they can and hold it until after the report comes out. They release the money and do it again next quarter.

It's all a pyramid scheme but that is illegal so they call it a glitch.

How do they get by with it? Go to youtube or google and search for a video called ''ebay buys congress'' and you will see.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: money orders man

Tue Feb 2 16:23:24 2010

They are trying to sweep this theft under the rug. They removed 5 posts from me this morning, including a couple answers that quoted my post.
I hope someone covers this theft by deception. I was just at the PP boards & there are a couple new threads from victims having funds held to prop up Ebay's bottom line to the tune of $10 million or more every 3 months

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: money orders man

Tue Feb 2 16:25:20 2010

I do agree about searching Ebay, I can usually find the item cheaper there nowadays, but only after running a few different searches & usually from outside the USA.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: Mister Tubbles

Tue Feb 2 17:11:00 2010

If that's an "intricate search technique" I shudder to think what the intelligence level of this country has become. Perhaps if people would take the time to learn how to search and shop instead of waiting to be spoon fed knock offs from China? Oh wait. That won't happen. What was I thinking.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Tue Feb 2 17:27:09 2010

PayPal is a banking-type service, a service that would be more appropriately and competently carried out under the auspices of the banking community via their credit card company partners. Without the bankers’ knowledge of the entities involved in the transactions, PayPal will always be handicapped—even more so while under the management of such incompetents as those who currently control eBay.

The head turkey at eBay, “Noise” Donahoe, has occasionally talked of the possibility of selling off PayPal because he is just barely smart enough to know that when the major credit card companies do get off their butts and introduce a like card/terminal-less payments system to complement their credit card system, they will do it properly, and the “clunky” PayPal will then sink like a stone—other than, possibly, on what is by then left of the Donahoe-ever-shrinking eBay marketplace.

If this turkey had any brain at all he would be trying to sell PayPal to the banks to complement their credit card system; but I doubt the banks would want to lower their image any further by associating themselves with a company as obnoxious as PayPal; not even for a peppercorn consideration would the banks touch PayPal, I suspect.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Tue Feb 2 17:33:08 2010

“Our entire reason for building a separate site was because we believed that the changes needed for buyers and sellers in a massive fixed-price marketplace were not compatible with the experience of the traditional eBay auction site. As I used to tell buyers and sellers, we built eBay Express so that we would not have to change the auction experience that millions of buyers and sellers loved on eBay.com.”
—Adam Nash, former Director of eBay Express North America.

Now, does that not say it all? What a shame the head turkey didn’t listen to that bit of perfectly sound logic.

eBay: Dead Man Walking

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: o.c.d.collectibles

Tue Feb 2 18:10:13 2010

Ok the match is lit. let's wait.it's not going to be long, folks. I'm predicting possibly March ~or there-abouts.

That was my original "prediction" in the fall. Dennis the menace has seen his last few weeks. He's probably packing his bags. Which is why they all feel so "free" to talk about him now.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: turkeys, monkeys and fools, oh my! lol

Tue Feb 2 18:55:12 2010

@Philip Cohen
Tue Feb 2 17:33:08 2010
“Our entire reason for building a separate site was because we believed that the changes needed for buyers and sellers in a massive fixed-price marketplace were not compatible with the experience of the traditional eBay auction site. As I used to tell buyers and sellers, we built eBay Express so that we would not have to change the auction experience that millions of buyers and sellers loved on eBay.com.”
—Adam Nash, former Director of eBay Express North America.

Now, does that not say it all? What a shame the head turkey didn’t listen to that bit of perfectly sound logic.""

--------

That was pre d-ho and during the head monkey's reign... that wrecking ball, margaret nitwhit aka meg whitman.

Sometimes I think Pierre must be very, very stupid... or maybe just so rich that he just doesn't care if his genius idea turned unbelievably lucrative reality is destroyed from the inside out.

Surely his hands can't be that tied on this.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: fruity

Tue Feb 2 19:13:30 2010

actually this was during John Donahoes reign, remember he showed up in 2005, for marketplaces.

Ebay express would totally have worked the way Adam described it if it weren't for the fact that ebay was unwilling to explain the differences between that and the stores and Fixed pricing. Ebay let the buyers just sit there confused and they continued to move the modules back and forther. seems like marketing peeps decided they ran the joint!

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: summer in the city

Tue Feb 2 19:40:05 2010



@ money orders man and Marvin

Just wait until after Meg drops out/wins/loses the CA election.
Then you'll see Paypal holds getting serious.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: harry

Tue Feb 2 20:35:34 2010

Then if I read correctly.....Mr. Nash is one of the people who is directly responsible for the crappy search Ebay has. Thanks Mr. Nash.

The fact your Google engineer friend could not find a simple item on a search you helped create shows what a pathetic moron you are.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Tue Feb 2 21:42:13 2010

Apart from the fact that its interface could be better designed (like most of eBay) there is nothing wrong with eBay search as long as you know how to use it. Unfortunately, the occasional user will probably never use it effectively, which is not wholly eBay's fault.

Jesus, I must be losing my mind, standing up for eBay!

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: enough

Tue Feb 2 23:16:24 2010

I am certain that current eBay management will give the input from ex-eBay employees the same amount of attention that eBay management gives to input from sellers.  In other words, not very much.  It's all just "noise" as far as eBay management is concerned.

Only when enough sellers leave eBay to go somewhere else (and take their buyers with them) will eBay management give a damn.  If I remember my history, French aristocrats did not pay much attention to the "noise" from the common people until the guillotine blade started dropping.  And by the time the British king payed any real attention to the "noise" of his discontented American colonists, the rebellion was picking up steam.  Maybe the eBay aristocrats will need a revolution on their doorsteps to wake up, which generally is too late to avoid radical changes.  thankfully, history has shown that some radical changes turn out for the better!

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Wed Feb 3 00:07:39 2010

The eBay “revolution” has been underway for some time now; and the head turkey has for some time been busy pink slipping staff and raising fees to try to compensate for the effect thereof on the financials. Eventually the penny will drop and these dopey stock market analysts (who do no more than regurgitate the spin that emanates directly from eBay’s Department of Spin) and eBay’s own board of directors will come to realize that everything is not OK at eBay. Boy, what a bunch of “turkey gobblers”.

eBay: Dead Man Walking.

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: Susan

Wed Feb 3 00:12:32 2010

I wish all the people that post on this site about ebay's fraudulent ways would put all their notes together and go have a talk with the CA AG.
I am sorry to say this, but it's all talk here, with no action.

The California Attorney General should immediately file Fraud Charges against eBay, with Class Action Status!!

Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal   Former Employees Blog about eBay and PayPal

by: Ebay No More

Wed Feb 3 00:31:41 2010

Let's not forget Adam Nash as the man behind Ebay Express. EE was a worthless billion dollar money pit. Search was a flipping joke then so why would today be any different? Especially since Ebay's search engine was designed specifically for Ebay Express. The glitches on that EE site were a constant PITA and nothing, repeat nothing on that site worked properly. Express was a joke headed by someone who left rather than fix the mess he helped create. As far as I am concerned Adam can close his blog down because his impressions aren't worth the time it takes to read them. Please Adam spare us all another impression of your feelings about Ebay.

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