eBay Chairman John Donahoe and North American President Lorrie Norrington put on the friendly face at eBay Live 2008.
(Written from the mezzanine at McCormick Center, above the crowd of eBay Live attendees waiting to enter the closing gala)
This photo, taken during a meet & greet in the eBay chatterbox on the solutions floor is an analogy of the entire event. Lorries expression is open and welcoming and John is just a bit worried (at least in his expression).
Certainly the keynote speech yesterday was an attempt to put a very positive face on the changes at eBay and in many ways it succeeded. Unfortunately it was delivered with the old fashioned hokie eBay standard feel good vibe and was off point on several occasions.
For John to show family photos and then for Lorrie to follow up with the history of her single International sale of a pair of shoes on eBay, seems to highlight the very essence of the misunderstanding eBay seems to have for the eBay Live crowd.
The attendees at this event have been more serious about the business of doing business than I or any of the other regular solutions providers and speakers I polled have ever seen at an eBay Live event. This eBay Live was filled with real serious individuals who are looking for answers, solutions, ways to reduce the pain points in the process of selling online. Every serious attendee I spoke with was on a mission to find a new way to do business, with eBay if possible, but without if necessary.
eBay knows internally this is true, and eBay solutions providers are scrambling to offer the pain reduction mechanisms to make it happen for merchants. eBay has announced several positive changes itself, including worldwide confirmed addresses from Paypal for shippers, further discounts for quality PowerSellers, and an improvement across the board in buyer feedback due to the changes recently put in place. In addition, Lorrie admitted some mistakes have been made and eBay is working to correct those mistakes (feedback removal policy). All of these changes or parts of the speeches have been covered by other bloggers and journalists. My point here is that eBay is evolving as we watch it before our very eyes. eBay Live will evolve or go dormant in the process.
eBay is transitioning from eBay 1.0 to eBay 2.0... this transition will not be without pain.
We are in a period of puberty for eBay, everything went great through this companies youth and the first 10 - 11 years were an amazing story of growth for a young baby .com company. Now we are entering the teen years of eBay... as we all know from our own youthful experiences, this transition from child to full adult can be difficult. There may be a lot of pouting and crying and hurt feelings along the way but the process of growth does not stop just because it is painful at times.
Some sellers, and those who are pouting and crying the most, those who liked the child more than the teenager, they are eBay 1.0 sellers.... I did not see very many of those types of people here, although they were in attendance and made their voices known at seminars and round table discussions.
The sellers who were most prevalent and impressive are part of and ready for... eBay 2.0.
eBay 2.0 will become a new and interesting adult in time. We are not there yet, but the signs of maturity are hard to miss.
The vestiges of eBay 1.0 are dying off as we speak, within the company and from outside. The crowd below me is cheering and clamoring to enter the gala at the behest of eBay employees. This crowd does not consist of hoards of goofily dressed and led adorned individuals. The silliness and nuttiness of the carnival aspect of eBay and eBay Live is entering its last few hours of youthful exuberance.
The organization has to mature and so do its followers. eBay can no longer survive off the fees from occasional yard sale and garage sale, at home sellers. Growth must come from real businesses and small business is a big part of the future of eBay.
The puberty of this company will bring a new focus. Providing value for real business. If eBay does not provide value for business, if they continue on the path of the carnival hawker, then they are doomed. This is why eBay will never be what it once was, this is why eBay 1.0 is in the past.
eBay 2.0 is the future and if you want to be part of the future, maturing with the platform will be your best and only option.