Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Dec 14 2013 19:10:36

After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

eBay began making a big deal of its next-generation search engine called Cassini in 2011 as a fix for its poorly performing Voyager. First promised for 2012, full functionality of the new technology has been delayed until 2014. In November, there were several developments that call into question just what's going on at eBay with regards to Cassini.

Hugh Williams, who took credit for leading the Cassini project, left the company last month. He's travelling, but told me this morning via email:

"I had a great time at eBay, and I decided to leave after the release of 3.0 and Cassini. I couldn't be more proud of what we achieved and the team that delivered it all. Since you mention Cassini, Mark Carges remarked in my departure note on how Cassini was ahead of the ambitious plans we set for it, and I am personally very pleased with how much search has improved at eBay. We had a nice celebration as I left, and I am proud to now be part of the alumni family and am cheering from the sidelines. It is a great company with great leadership, and I wish them the best. I have nothing to say yet about what I am doing next. I am taking time off with my family for now, and enjoying some downtime."

But Williams paints a rosier picture than Devin Wenig. Last month during an interview, the head of eBay Marketplaces said:

"One of the thing that's misunderstood - may be misunderstood - is that the functionality of Cassini has not yet been rolled out at all. The product and the back-end has been, so the old search methodology is now running on the Cassini servers. So think of search as a back end and a front end. The back end is the infrastructure, the front end is the functionality.

"So at Analyst Day, we talked a little bit about some of the things we were hoping to get out of Cassini, like, Cassini will search not just the headline of a listing but will search the body. We haven't done any of that. Yet. So what we've done is we've swapped the old search back end Voyager to the new search backend Cassini. But the roll out - and we're careful how fast we go because 98% of everything we sell is on the back of the search. The front end functionality is a '14 event, it was never a '13 event.
"

(an interviewer says he "could have sworn" it was due the second half of 2013)

"Well, we said we were going to launch Cassini, we have launched Cassini. Everything is running on Cassini. The functionality, the new functionality, the new stuff, we're going to test that into, and that will roll throughout '14."

More about what Wenig said, Williams' departure and Cassini is found in Sunday's EcommerceBytes Update newsletter.

Sellers deal with search every day, yet they are among the last to know about changes that could impact their listing strategies. What do you think is going on with search, and have you seen any changes to search over the past year?

Update 12/16/13:
eBay provided a statement about Hugh Williams departure.




Comments (101) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 14 19:50:33 2013

Though they will never admit it, Cassini is a multi-million dollar disaster.  

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Sat Dec 14 20:23:41 2013

So once again, we discover that eBay has been intentionally misrepresenting implementation of Cassini. This is most likely due to the fact that eBay has dumped tens of millions into the search engine that isn't, and needed to impress investors about alleged accomplishments resulting from the money they flushed away.

I personally do not believe we are any closer to the truth now than we were when eBay first started telling us Cassini was rolling out.

The first tip off to me came when eBay announced the discontinuation of wild card search functionality. eBay has the only search engine on the planet that can not handle wild card calls. I speculated then that Cassini's inability to handle wild card functionality was the tip of the iceberg and that more disappointments for sellers was to come.

I believe that eBay has learned that Cassini does not work as planned, and that the many shortcomings in Cassini are part of the reason John Donahoe predicted softer than expected Q4 2013 numbers.

Sellers have been very poorly served by the lies, half-truths, deceptive statements, and misleading public releases eBay's various executives and spokespeople keep spewing.
Sellers are entitled to more than the half baked BS that has been rocketing out of the wrong end of eBay with regard to the most the singular important eBay function... search.

Perhaps, Mr Donahoe needs to take an extra thinking day before the end of 2013, and ponder the advantages of coming clean with sellers once and for all as a way to start the New Year, and then dedicating 2014 as the year eBay stops lying to sellers, analysts and investors in a desperate effort to support share values.

This disclosure regarding Cassini points to how the many destructive innovations called for by John Donahoe have failed and why eBay finds it impossible to achieve real transactional sales growth.

The Board Of Directors needs to wake up from their Donahoe induced collective coma and admit that it is time for another purge at eBay... this time aimed at the failed leadership of John Donahoe as well as his hand picked team of yes-men.




 

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: Captain Nemo

Sat Dec 14 20:27:45 2013

So all this blather about how bad Cassini has been is really just a ''vapor-whine'' since it's not been enabled.  

It's can't be much worse than Amazon's search which is always a ''sorta best match'' full of irrelevant items directly mixed with items not even on Amazon.  I truly feel for the 3rd party sellers often demoted to the ''other sellers'' kid's table where they can be ignored.

Or Etsy search with limited options that seems to want to sort based on listing dates.  Forget trying to find something specific.  Pour a glass of wine and wander...

Perhaps Cassini - which no one has actually seen or used - might really be better.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 14 20:51:24 2013

When a failed exec or politician  is shown the door, a common public explanation is ''I am taking time off with my family for now'' or some variant.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Sat Dec 14 21:03:53 2013

These guys are always patting themselves on the back for stuff that can not be proved. Meanwhile, no one ever gets fired f

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Sat Dec 14 21:07:29 2013

no one gets fired for the things that never work right, like the Shipping Calculator.

That is why eBay FORCES YOU to let PreyPal TAKE your money for fees each month. Who could sit down month after month and pay good money for this abuse.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sat Dec 14 21:26:05 2013

If he loves eBay and everyone there, and if he's proud of he work he did, then why did Mr. Williams decide to leave? I would think that if it is such a love fest there, he would stay on.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 14 21:53:12 2013

GRRRRREAT story Ina!
Keep digging for us!
This is a critical story and you get coverage.
Good going.
MH

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

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

Sat Dec 14 21:54:14 2013

Political posturing. He's trying to demonstrate to his NEXT employer that he's a ''team player'' and that he's ''loyal'' even in adversity. His glowing comments have NOTHING to do with reality... he's just setting the stage so that future employment prospects won't see him as being a volatile employee.

''Blather?'' ''Vapor whine?'' Oh, good grief! Give. Me. A. Break.

Everyone knows that eBay lies lies lies. Simply because someone at eBay (or formerly at eBay) claims that Cassini hasn't been rolled-out, doesn't make it true.

I think the more rational explanation is that they HAVE rolled it out, and it's been a FAILURE. So they are faced with trying to figure out how they can plausibly cover-up or make excuses for their failure. So, they've decided to try the ''it's-not-yet-implemented'' excues. And, no matter how absurd it may sound to us, they've decided to run with it and work-it for all it's worth.

Some people are not as clever as they imagine themselves to be. The great care they use in splitting hairs reveal much more about their intentions (and their character) than they probably intended.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sat Dec 14 21:56:03 2013

"So think of search as a back end and a front end. The back end is the infrastructure, the front end is the functionality."

Backass backward describes ebay perfectly

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

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

Sat Dec 14 22:05:29 2013

REVIEW TIME:

Ming's ebay Law #1:

EBAY LIES. ALWAYS HAS, ALWAYS WILL.

and of course the corollary  

How do you know when ebay is lying?
When their lips are moving.

Don't forget about the man who invented Voyager. He resigned and later stated that ebay was perverting the original intent of his search engine.

Devil Wenig appears to be the heir apparent and, if anything, this man is more vicious, more sociopathic, and more evil than The Ho.

Secondly it's clear from all the experiences that have been posted here that Cassini did in fact kick in in phases beginning in late winter of 2013 and probably accounted for the even more dismal than usual summer sales and thusfar quite disappointing holiday sales.

The fact is that ebay just doesn't get it. They don't get that despicable treatment of sellers/buyers, inability to distinguish between really good sellers and bad ones, and constant search engine tweaks to favor sellers that buyers aren't much interested in buying from on ebay (Chinese, big boxes) combined with the increasing disappearance of the unique items ebay buyers have always expected to find, and the anti seller, pro criminal policies have contributed to the pitiful, blatantly dishonest platform that is today's ebay.

Ebay management -- including Williams who lies to protect his golden parachute and severance benefits (Remember The Ho's departure mantra? ''Be a good ebay citizen'' which translates as ''Don't reveal any damaging secrets and crimes.'') should be spending all day every day with their families waiting to begin serving their sentences in federal prison.

Lies, secrets, more lies, and more secrets. That's the ebay way.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sat Dec 14 22:06:22 2013

Boy Captain Nemo keep hanging on to that sinking ship. I think you are the only one on board.

Annie, as usual, is spot on.

Me thinks thou ebay doth protest too much

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

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

Sat Dec 14 22:13:31 2013

One additional chilling thought:

Maybe in the Ho's and Wenig's opinion, Cassini didn't advance The Ho's favored favored Chinese, big box, and haute couture sellers high enough in search.

On the other hand, managers who supervise successful projects don't get invitations to spend more time with families.

Williams is taking the fall for C level management's utter stupidity  and hopeless incompetence.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sat Dec 14 22:29:40 2013

I wonder what the executive hiring process is like on ebay.

''Will you give up your soul, your first born and your life to work for ebay?''

''Yes''

''Okay you are hired until we do not need or want you anymore''

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Sat Dec 14 22:30:22 2013

Whoa - I got lost midway through the carefully chosen words & thought I was in the middle of some of last month's healthcare site hearings transcripts.

Even the CMS IT guy who resigned sounded a lot like Mr. Williams.

So maybe the healthcare site repair techs can go to work on Cassini when they finish? They seem to be making SOME headway.

Of course, you have to admit there IS a problem before you can be helped.  


Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sat Dec 14 22:46:26 2013

Can't wait until I get to the end of this book with an actual booking of JD and all his henchmen.

Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

by: JoyfulA This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 14 23:52:24 2013

So eBay is now like 2008 Amazon? Well, ToysRUs was at Amazon then, and now it's at eBay. Interesting.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 14 23:58:20 2013

I've spent many more hours searching on eBay than Hugh Williams has worked for eBay, and I can state for a fact that it used to be much easier to find things on eBay than it is today. The loss of the wild card, the hijacking of our searches (changing our search words), and the swamping of eBay with free listings that are run over and over and over again have made it all but impossible to find any quality items on eBay. Add the fact that eBay has driven away many of the sellers of quality vintage items and replaced them with sellers of junk and imported items, and the future of eBay doesn't look bright. The best thing that eBay could do for search is figure out a way to filter out any auction title that has been delivered to the searcher within the past 6 months. If I've seen an auction title once and was not interested in it, I don't need to see that same auction title a hundred times a week through my various searches.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

by: nsc This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sun Dec 15 00:06:00 2013

@basset, don't wish for the health care site techs; they are cobbling together a Potemkin website on the fly. The lack of basic back-end functionality (not to mention nice-to-haves like security) will become obvious to all in January as tens of thousands have their insurance policies lost or garbled, and the identity thieves start to bite. It will become so obvious that even reporters will see it and stop buying administration lies and excuses.

Perminate Link for After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?   After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?

by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Dec 15 00:44:01 2013

If cassini is so great, why are all our sales so slow?  It's like no one can find anything.

I have an item I listed myself, for a year or two.  It's very odd and hard to sell with few buyers.  

I searched for it, and I couldn't find it at all.  Did I mention it's been listed a couple years?  It was GONE. INVISIBLE.

I added it to my watchlist on some other accounts and asked some friends to do the same, and then I could see it.

It hasn't sold but it's the type of item that has very few buyers. Quite a specialized, custom made piece of electronic equipment.

So that it has not sold is no surprise to me. But the tests I did went way beyond that.  It was invisible.

I thought that was cassini. Is the whole ebay search broken, cassini or not?  I guess so.  

Click to view more comments
1 2 3 4 5 6  [Next Page]


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.