AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Mon Jan 10 2011 22:39:27

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

A total of 11% of web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this holiday season, according to a survey conducted by Foresee Results. Given the importance eBay is placing on mobile sales these days, it's surprising to learn the company nearly missed the boat on mobile.

Alan Lewis was a tech evangelist and product manager at eBay before he left for Auctiva. Last week, he wrote about his involvement with the development of the eBay iPhone app when he was working in the "Disruptive Innovation" group at eBay.

In the spring of 2008, Apple announced it would launch its App Store in iTunes that July. Alan said the eBay Mobile team made the decision not to invest in building an iPhone app, but Alan himself immediately applied and was granted a developer license from Apple.

Alan said he pulled together a team to work on the project in their spare time, and Apple hooked them up with Critical Path - the mobile development firm that eBay acquired last month. Because eBay had its iPhone App completed in time for the App Store launch in July 2008, Apple included the eBay app in television ads and other marketing promotions as well as placement in the App Store itself.

What's really interesting is that Alan said the success of the app wasn't enough to convince eBay leadership of the importance of mobile. In late 2008, most of the eBay Mobile team was laid off or re-assigned to other parts of the company. "Executives wanted to focus on the "core" of the business, and eBay Mobile was evidently not considered "core,"" Alan wrote.

The revelation from the former eBay techie comes on the heels of another employee revelation that eBay blundered in the digital content space in 2008.

John Donahoe was running eBay Marketplaces in 2008 and took over from Meg Whitman as CEO in March of that year. He slashed the Marketplaces business, reducing eBay's global workforce by 10 percent (with more layoffs to come the next year), and placed the priority on its payments business, acquiring Bill Me Later for $945 million.

One can't help think about what other opportunities were missed or nearly missed during that time.




Comments (20) | Permalink

Readers Comments

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

This user has validated their user name. by: Pete

Mon Jan 10 23:22:07 2011

You really could not make this stuff up ...LOL

eBay management sound's like a real bunch of idiots

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: walter

Tue Jan 11 02:41:05 2011

I'm convinced now for certain Donuthole's mission is to cause Ebay to fail.

Who he is in on this failure mission with and how he will profit from failure will have to be figured out by authorities.

It's really easy to cause something to fail and I think he saw that as a sure bet and took it.

Bought a credit firm "bill me later" in a recession when the majority of creditors were pulling people's credit left and right....puzzling!

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

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

Tue Jan 11 04:30:27 2011

I’ll just pass on this little note that I received from another eBay critic:

“Have you seen the latest shenanigans eBay is now pulling on their best sellers?

“Look at this listing: 320641162795:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=320641162795&ss
PageName=ADME:B:SS:US:1123

“and read what this seller wrote about the despicable way eBay treats sellers now.”

eBay/PayPal/Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: big miss

Tue Jan 11 07:18:15 2011

One can't help think about what other opportunities were missed or nearly missed during that time

This missed the opportunity to hire a competent CEO

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Mr. Obvious
Web Site

Tue Jan 11 11:18:37 2011

Instead of worrying about tech, eBay should have worried about keeping customers happy, so they would continue to spread the good news.

Donut hole runs around with the phone glued to his head all the time time and it never dawns on him to sell from it?!? You can't make this stuff up.

Look at the web link - how come all the social seller guys are losing their hair?

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Larry V

Tue Jan 11 12:10:04 2011

eBay has never been a particularly proactive company. They tend to be just behind the curve on innovation (which is why the best minds in Silicon Valley travel between Google and Facebook). When you think of the things that they fell ass-backwards into, they tend to succeed despite themselves. That's what having several billion in liquid assets will do for you. If you don't innovate it, buy it.

Best case in point is PayPal. eBay launched BillPoint after the fact, and couldn't compete. PayPal was basically throwing themselves at eBay to be acquired, and eBay spent millions developing a payment system that had to be shelved. Turns out that PayPal was the best thing that eBay stepped in. Ahh, memories...

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 11 12:12:11 2011

This goes back to the point I made awhile ago.  How much revenue has ebay LOST due to mismanagment???

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Luxferro This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jan 11 12:46:07 2011

The problem with these ex-employee "revelations" is that we only hear one side of the story. When they work for eBay, we don't believe anything they say, and when they are out of eBay, we believe everything they say...

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Troglodyte

Tue Jan 11 13:59:56 2011

The  ost significant thing ebay missed was the opportunity to drown Best Match before it consumed the entire site.

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Red Ink Diary This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Jan 11 16:16:34 2011

My response will not fit in this box but maybe Meg “a monkey could drive this train” believed her own schtick, went out and hired a bunch of monkeys.

http://tinyurl.com/4hmb47v

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: RicRoe

Tue Jan 11 16:23:33 2011

This confirms that eBay CEO John Donahoe lacks vision and is clearly unfit for his role as CEO. Instead of being proactive, John Donahoe is reactive which explains why eBay is always behind the curve.

Given that Donahoe wants to always be the smartest person in the room, one can assume that he has surrounded himself with a management team that is less competent than himself.

This is another illustration of how management's lack of vision caused eBay to relinquish it's role as a leader in e commerce.

Number and data crunchers such as John Donahoe lack vision primarily because they are too busy analyzing data about what has already occurred instead of taking a few chances and attempting to anticipate what is going to happen next.

Before John Donahoe, eBay was a driving force in ecommerce because eBay was geared toward the success of it's seller's.

When Donahoe assumed the role of CEO, eBay's culture became that of sellers being designated as ''noise''. As a result, eBay finds itself struggling to keep pace and maintain relevancy because the CEO's priorities and focus has been misguided from the start.

As long as eBay is run by a CEO and management team that rarely if ever experiences the site from a sellers perspective, the site will continue to underwhelm buyers and sales will suffer.

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

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

Tue Jan 11 17:53:07 2011

“Red Ink Diary”

http://200westmain.com/redinkdiary/?tag=alan-lewis


An
interesting commentary on the slow death of eBay.

eBay/PayPal/Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

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

Tue Jan 11 17:57:03 2011

A few quotes by eBay personnel:

“This company truly is built by the community of users.”—Meg Whitman

“There is no online marketplace industry. We are pioneers.”—Meg Whitman

“A monkey could drive this train”—Meg Whitman

“Man, we’ve got something special. Don’t screw it up.”—Maynard Webb

“Some of our biggest mistakes occurred when we put on our consultant’s hats …”—Matt Bannick

“We had to create a vision of the future so people could let go of a very successful past.”—John Donahoe.

“We’ve had the disruption, now we must disrupt our own disruption ...”—John Donahoe.

“The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”—Albert Einstein.

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Rick1313

Tue Jan 11 18:14:18 2011

To Luxferro's post...

In the case of the former (working for ''the man''), statements are scripted beforehand and rarely is an individual allowed to go outside the company line.

In the case of the latter (stop working for ''the man'') what you say better be truthful or else ''the man'' might decide to seek retribution for spreading falsehoods.

In this day of instant worldwide access to posted information, which shoe would you put on first to see if it fits, the former or the latter?

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Rick1313

Tue Jan 11 18:22:02 2011

On a side note, over on eBay's forum board (specifically the eBay Store forum) a user is trying to get people to discuss the matter, but the brain-dead user (jake-deals-4u) has decided, once again, that it his thread to rule with his blather.

And he calls this site as appealing to the ''lowest denomination''.

What does that make him? Non-Human?

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Tyler Gildred
Web Site

Tue Jan 11 18:30:55 2011

In early 2007 My company Zuujit released its first version of mobile selling software designed for the Windows mobile, Palm platforms. Selling online via Web enabled Mobile devices is the future.

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: John

Tue Jan 11 19:22:03 2011

@ Rick1313 to Luxferro's post...Good one and so true. However falsehoods can be passed if properly documented on the web, in a way that is shown to be sanctioned by the company themselves through their own policy statements, and that of the  employee who was  trained and hired to publicized that policy.

If in the course of the advice given by the employee, and documented on the web, that advice should actually prove to be untrue, and may also result in  a fairly  significant monetary loss in funds for the company then they have no one to blame for that loss but  themselves and the lack of proper training given the employee so that the question could be answered correctly.


If a person  knowingly puts forth a question that ''could'' result in a monetary loss for the company, but there is a web  paper trail showing a step by step documentation of the policy, and the advice given, Then the  questioner walks away the company losses money for their own ludicrous policy, and the only person who looses out the most is poor Vincy K    


How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: James

Wed Jan 12 00:53:54 2011

Has anybody used the mobile app? It's pathetic. It's one of the worst apps I've ever seen. I uninstalled it but the geniuses at eBay made it so the site auto defaults to eBay mobile when it knows it's a mobile device.

Sheer stupidity and arrogance as well I'm sure.

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Ha

Wed Jan 12 15:57:38 2011

''eBay Generated Nearly $2 Billion in Mobile GMV in 2010''

''A total of 11% of web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this holiday season''

The punch line is:
***** purchases web shoppers would have made on their computers *****

Another zero-sum game from John ''smoke and mirrors'' Donahoe.

How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage   How eBay Nearly Missed out on Its Mobile Advantage

by: Joe Average

Thu Jan 13 01:58:01 2011

With their pathetic customer service and hard-headed, heavy-handed every changing policies and procedures, they missed out on the most important thing - seller satisfaction and loyalty.



Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.