Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Dec 23 2012 09:13:48

eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

By: Ina Steiner

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In a Forbes article about eBay's courtship of college grads, who are classified as Gen Y or Millennials, I was struck by something eBay's top HR exec said about their behavior: it may be okay if they're fiddling with their phones during company meetings.

Beth Axelrod said the company is significantly ramping up recent college graduate recruitment because, "our view is that for this era, at the stage of evolution we're in now, having digital natives who have grown up with technology, see the world through that lens, and are the future customers of our business - that's important to the future growth of our company."

Regarding the phone-fiddling, she explained:

"If they're using their phone in a meeting, they may well be blogging or writing a post that's adding to their external reputation, and in turn, accruing to the company's reputation. Should we disparage that behavior, or encourage that behavior? We need to be open to the possibility it's bringing a kind of benefit to the company that we want and should encourage."

It's certainly an interesting idea. (I'd love to read those blog posts!)

I had just read a Fortune article last month about Amazon meetings that was completely counter to that philosophy.

"Meetings of his "S-team" of senior executives begin with participants quietly absorbing the written word. Specifically, before any discussion begins, members of the team -- including Bezos -- consume six-page printed memos in total silence for as long as 30 minutes."

It's not quite apples and apples, since the article about Amazon is talking about meetings of senior executives, not low-level new-hires. But it demonstrates the cultural differences between the two companies.

Both articles make an interesting read while you're catching your breath from a busy holiday selling season. Customers of the two ecommerce marketplaces (and by that, I mean sellers) have a unique perspective: if you were graduating from college today, which company would you want to work for? Imagine you were advising your niece or nephew - what would you tell them?




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Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 23 09:50:58 2012

And this sums up perfectly what is wrong with ebay…no one in the ebay management clique has a clue about actually selling on-line  

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Sun Dec 23 10:13:31 2012

Based on what we already know about eBay... and add to that, what we've observed about eBay execs and department heads... it's difficult for me to imagine that any new-hires at eBay are likely to find any long-term careers at the company. I also doubt that having ''eBay'' appear on one's CV would be of any great benefit when looking for their next job.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sun Dec 23 14:45:05 2012

The comparison to me is glaring. Amazon is organized and ebay is total chaos. I bet the pay scale is vastly different between the two companies too. I can just visualize ebay's company meetings - nothing is taken seriously,there is no respect; texting & posting to their friends, making plans for lunch and leaving the meeting with absolutely no idea of what the meeting was about.

It would depend on the maturity of the new college graduate. Do they want to continue their frat & sorority party days or do they want to be taken seriously in the real world?

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 23 15:40:15 2012

Beth is stating the obvious about eBay, and what is obvious about eBay is that it is utterly clueless.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

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

Sun Dec 23 18:58:21 2012

Long time sellers and this forum's blogging participants have known for many years that the quality and maturity of ebay's hires ranks very low.

They are for the most part far too young, inexperienced, clueless about how ebay works, and devote far too much time and energy to conjuring up silly, stupid, and irrelevant changes in order to get noticed and enhance their upward mobility whether inside ebay or elsewhere.

They are, in short, typically the bottom of the barrel.

There's also far too much youthful testosterone that revels in their ability to set unreasonable and unfair requirements and then rejoice and laugh out loud at the number of small businesses they've succeeded in destroying.

Most of them are undisciplined, sadistic, narcissistic, and sociopathic reflecting as they do the values and culture of the rest of ebay management. Like hires like.

They're willing to throw their mothers and grandmothers under the bus of greed and career advancement. Their arrogant, condescending, paternalistic attitude toward sellers is manifested quite clearly in their dogmatically rigid, draconian, often contradictory policies whose principal objectives are to damage honest sellers and remove discounts.

"Fiddling" with gadgets during meetings demonstrates disrespect towards all in attendance and specifically presenters.

Amazon is serious about their business. Ebay isn't.

What ebay IS serious about 24/7/365 is getting more "wallet" from sellers.

Ebay's teenage business culture is why ebay is flailing and failing while Amazon, a company managed by adults with business and sales experience, humiliates ebay every quarter.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
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Sun Dec 23 21:14:25 2012

Does anyone really think the employees are blogging?  I would assume they are catching up on emails.  When you work at a company like either of these you get 10's to 100's of emails a day and some of them are important.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 23 23:51:14 2012

Nullapps:

What absolute BULL, how did you manage to pull yourself away from your tweets,FB, etc,etc,etc,etc,etc, to even post this idiotic comment

Why would ANYONE in a meeting be answering emails????

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: happyharry This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 23 23:56:41 2012

In our Company meetings Every Monday morning ALL smartphones etc are switched to silent and tablets/laptops are not even allowed in the room...guess we are going wrong somewhere

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Dec 24 00:36:43 2012

@ happyharry

Have you ever worked at a large company as a software engineer?  I have and know exactly what it is like.  I wouldn't be surprised if they all bring laptops and work while in the middle of their meetings.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: SnapPost This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Dec 24 00:51:10 2012

@NullApps  
Gosh, I thought that happyharry was being sarcastic! I agree with you, and have been to those meetings, people are multitasking and/or looking up info about what is said in the meetings.  

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 03:34:50 2012

I find it odd that any company would allow their employees to be screwing around on their phones (AKA....screwing around on Facebook, probably) while anyone above that person in rank was talking.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 06:44:47 2012

Apparently there are some that think nobody is screwing around, they're multitasking.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 09:44:14 2012

High 5 to MING :) even though he said FIRST more or less exactly what I was going to say.

eBay = culture of corruption PERIOD.

Short example - I called eBay 2x in the past day to solve 2 different problems - 1 time with paypal on the phone at the same time (they conferenced me with eBay since they too couldnt understand the issue). The eBay women rep was rude, childish, and plainly said ''yeh we know theres a problem - too bad - just consider yourself lucky that the buyer cant leave you a negative!'' The Paypal rep was floored since the eBay glitch didnt report a completed transaction on the eBay side, only on the Paypal side.

The second time was about my  possible exposure to INR from overseas customers who refuse to pick up thier items at the PO due to customs charges.

Paypal took it seriously since they know/knew that chargebacks would happen eventually. Ebay again just laughed .. ''well too bad, you will just have to deal with it all and start refunding people regardless and deal with paypal in getting back your funds later'', ''oh yeh - they can leave INR and low DSRs for you too, even though its thier fault''.

TYPICAL eBay BS.

Amazon on the other hand, when I called about my account and international shipping, as well as a hidden ASIN - the rep spent 20 mins looking into the issues and gave me courtesy, respect, praise for having a 4.9 out of 5 account and doing an excellent job. THEN they gave me the correct info and even sent me a screen shot of thier answer from thier own pc!

Amazon had FIRST CLASS service.

The fiddling with gadgets during the meetings speaks volumes - not about culture but about (as MING said so correctly) the care and concern they have for the person leading the meeting as well as the people the meeting concerns!

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: Donkey This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 09:53:18 2012

No wonder ebay is in such bad shape and sellers are suffering.

While the ebay decision makers are suppose to be listening and helping their company, they are busy playing video games and buying things on Amazon.

Is ebay a part time job for these ebay employees?

Time to bring in some ''grey hairs'' and run ebay like a business that listens to its sellers and buyers.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Mon Dec 24 09:54:24 2012

Not to start an augument, but humans can not multitask! Recent studies Not to start an augument, but humans can not multitask! Recent studies have proven that, you get distracted somewhat from the tasks you are trying to "multi".

(Cases in point, driving while:...... Ask airline pilots, bus drivers, locomotive engineers what is/is not allowed at their control stations, some of the Federal Rules in the CFR are quite specific and are growing in length).

Anyway.

Jeff Bezos was interviewed by Charlie Rose recently and you can see by Jeff's answers (where he mentioned the silent period in his senior staff meetings) how his committment and passion are focused. He is a top-down type of guy and his company reflects HIS vision of HIS company. He built it, suffered years of non-profitability, but persevered in his dream.

The contrast to the current and former heads of eBay are striking. They were hires because the Pierre had the dream, but not the business acumen to complete the vision. Those CEOs while successful monetarily, didn't have the vision. Clueless in effect. They had a vision of a successful business, but only in the narrow sense of not being a failure.

Ebay is doing the "throw-the-pasta-at-the-wall & hope something sticks" thing with all of it's tweakings, empire buildings, changes of direction & focus.

I'm not saying that Amazon is not ruthless in its own right, but it pursues a vision.

I don't know if bringing in electronic devices to a meeting is useful or not. I've been on many conference calls where you are accessing your desktop or reading from printed material, so there is precedent there.

What I do know is, and this is from a lowly "computer programmer" since 1966 is that their quality & craftsmanship (yes, we considered ourselves craftsmen) of their programming sucks to put it mildly. So the corporate culture of eBay vs Amazon is different, but it comes from the top echelon - a reflection of the CEOs.have

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Dec 24 12:26:27 2012

I have a mental image of eBay meetings where they are listening to music on their iPods, tweeting on their smartphones, using the pages of the meeting agenda to fold into paper airplanes and fly them across the room, all the while JD is thinking up the latest policy to ruin small sellers.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

by: Bullet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 24 12:56:28 2012

Well I worked for eBay in a management position and I know what it is like there.  Everyone is very hard working and very smart.  You do work at meetings on laptops or phone because there is so much work to do.  It is so much fun to see the comments here because they are so wrong and so angry.  eBay is a very organized company with established life cycle development practices.  BTW, eBay looks great on my resume.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Mon Dec 24 13:05:05 2012

One trend I've noticed in news articles like in Forbes, etc...

ALL the talk is about Amazon and Google - what they are doing, what they are planning, what they are capable of.

What sticks out to me is eBay is NEVER mentioned in these articles. I have made a point of specifically looking for a mention of eBay, even just one. Most of the time, no mention at all - Like it has become  irrelevant and invisible, no longer a major player.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Dec 24 14:40:21 2012

"our view is that for this era, at the stage of evolution we're in now, having digital natives who have grown up with technology, see the world through that lens, and are the future customers of our business - that's important to the future growth of our company."

Remember all the internet start-ups like Boo.com that went belly up? They were full of these wet behind the ears immature "kids" that ran the companies into the ground and spent a fortune blowing private equity cash.

Fiddling with phones and devices during company meetings is completely disrespectful and is just bad business sense.  Text, tweet and fiddle with you gadgets in meetings at your own expense colleges grads.  Most C-level executives whom I have ever worked for over the years would not stand for this.

Perminate Link for eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings   eBay and Amazon Cultural Divide: Company Meetings

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
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Mon Dec 24 14:56:17 2012

Funny, my mental image of eBay management meetings is where all the headless turkeys (including the chief) run around in circles, ever decreasing circles, at ever increasing speed, bumping into and tripping over each other, until finally in one almightily implosion they all disappear up …

@Bullet, While you are at it, maybe you would like to explain the disparity that has appeared in the value of Amazon’s and eBay’s stock prices since the headless Ho started “disrupting” the place five years ago?

@Basset, subscribe to Google feeds for “ebay” and “paypal”; all you will find is pathetic spin from the eBay Dept of Spin being uncritically regurgitated by mostly second rate regurgitators …

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

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