|Thu Aug 8 2013 19:24:50|
eBay CEO Sees Excess Capacity in Newspaper Delivery Trucks
By: Ina Steiner
Did eBay's CEO just subtly slam Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' purchase of the Washington Post? John Donahoe granted an interview to BusinessWeek in which he shared his thoughts on the company's initiatives. In it, he flogs the same day delivery service eBay is trying to get off the ground called eBay Now.
When asked if the service was economical, Donahoe replies, "There's a lot of excess delivery capacity in every city." Asked if he was referring to bike messengers or delivery vehicles, Donahoe came out with the surprising response, "Newspaper trucks." Newspapers have been battling drops in circulation since the mid-90s as people started getting their news digitally - we'll see who has the last laugh on this one!
The eBay Now service is a partnership with large retailers, and Donahoe's strategy has been to try and capitalize on retailers' dissatisfaction with Amazon as a "frenemy" - it's role as both marketplace and competitor. But despite their gripes, most large retailers can't afford to turn their backs on Amazon.
Donahoe seems to be everywhere these days, granting interviews to the financial press and writing essays on outside sites like LinkedIn and LeanIn. He has been sharing his management techniques such as his unique "thinking days" in which he spends time in an empty office at eBay HQ organizing his thoughts on a white board, and sharing his philosophy on the benefits of taking time away from the office altogether and the importance of family.
Why the increased exposure?
There are a few reasons why a top exec might come out of his or her shell. In Donahoe's case, the climate is more friendly than when he first took over from Meg Whitman when Wall Street was asking tough questions. Other reasons for such behavior can include a desire to make a move, either for eBay or for his own career.
Management consultants (Donahoe comes from Bain & Co) are notorious for taking a troubled company, whipping it into shape through a series of painful changes and cost-cutting measures, and then looking for an exit strategy. This week we noted Skip McGrath's post about eBay's possible research into spinning off its auction business (this is at rumor stage only).
Alternatively, Donahoe himself could be looking for the next career move. Or, it could simply be that he's enjoying the limelight now that Wall Street has called his series of turnarounds a success.
One audience to which Donahoe has not been increasing his exposure is longtime eBay sellers - there's been no seller conferences this year and no Town Hall Meeting to discuss the most recent Seller Release. Symbolism is important in leadership, and this speaks volumes about the direction he's taking.