|Sat Dec 14 2013 19:10:36|
After a Cassini Disappearing Act at eBay, How Will Sellers React?
By: Ina Steiner
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.