Last week I wrote, 1.4 Billion Reasons Why eBay is Walking Away from Auctions which spoke about the new direction of eBay as a conglomerate.
In that article I used a fictional character to represent the desire of the eBay management team to dominate the world.
After I published the article my thoughts went from the satisfaction of having written a deliciously evil analogy about the massive shift of focus of a huge company to thoughts of fairness and concern.
I did not really want to say that in a personal sense, John Donahoe was evil. The man is just a man and I really do not think anyone should call another man evil, unless they know for sure that he is. I do not remotely think Mr. Donahoe is evil, he is simply a highly placed corporate executive trying to make the most money possible, his only concern being the final balance sheet. (hope it is not the stock price). This may be distasteful to some, but not to me, I like making money. Although I also care about my long time customers and hopefully would not forget about them quite so easily.
I quickly wrote, BTW - John Donahoe is Not Evil, and Neither is eBay- It was a Parody… . This caused confusion among my readers and I saw the effects of that confusion in my Twitter feed which included comments to me (and about me) from followers and friends, concerned that I had received a call from Dr. Evil himself.
I received no such call from Dr. Evil, unless it was sent telepathically or via the sub conscious.
My true feelings were conflicted as I did not want to offend Mr. Donahoe or the other eBay execs by making it seem that I am telling the world that they are evil, on the other hand, in some peoples perspective, the deeds are close to the analogy.
The truth about eBay in 2008...
Like a patient with Alzheimer's, eBay has its mind on other things.
The core eBay business is still active and alive, the patient is with us, physically if not in spirit. We can see something is wrong, our trusted friend is not quite the same, we know deep down there is a change coming that we do not want to think about or speak about... Our friend eBay is dying.
Emotions abound, everyone wants to help, no one knows what to do yet everyone has an opinion. We call the doctor and the diagnosis is clear, yet we do not believe. The patient, eBay, knows it is on a different course, yet we all keep thinking the inevitable will not happen. Sometimes the hardest part of life changes like this is the deception. We all deceive ourselves into thinking everything will be OK.
The patient is not eBay as a corporation, that will survive for eons. The patient is eBay auctions which are travelling through the final chapter of an amazing lifetime. It is time to say goodbye.
Fixed price will live on, the corporation needs that to fuel its finance business and Paypal beast but auctions are just too much trouble.
Over the weekend I asked this question of my Twitter followers:
Scott_Pooler Who said this? “There are times when I wish we can close this store and just open a new store, but we can’t,”
The answer is John Donahoe.
He said what almost every eBay store owner has said to him or herself on multiple occasions, except John Donahoe has never operated an eBay store.
He followed that quote up with this statement: “We need to make bolder, more aggressive changes to the eBay ecosystem even if they are unpopular.”
John was speaking about the eBay auctions business, it seems clear that in John Donahoe's mind, the core business of eBay is more of a pain point than a legacy.
The quote is from a the New York Times article: Amid the Gloom, an E-Commerce War
The New York Times article is one of the best and most in depth I have yet seen covering the real evolution of eBay into an Amazon clone. BRAD STONE of the New York Times seems to indicate this move towards fixed price may be too little and to late.
I think eBay should just change its name to PayBay.
PayPal and the new acquisition Bill Me Later are John Donahoe's vision of the future. While the eBay name and logo are colorful and shiny, PayPal is the engine that drives the bus.
Back in 2007 I wrote an article which offered a suggestion about how to feed the PayPal engine.
The exponential growth of PayPal has proven that eBay is simply a feeder system for the money machine known as PayPal. PayPal would not be the cash cow it is today if eBay did not exist, eBay may not exist if it continues to increase fees and limit the ability of sellers, both new and experienced, to make sales. Sales are what drives the engine of the cash flow which feeds PayPal!
Imagine - if you will… a system of eBay where fees were completely removed (Somewhat like CraigsList or Kiiji). This would be a free market system like no other and the exponential growth of the PayPal transactions would more than cover the losses from removing fees for sellers.
The competition (Amazon/Google Checkout) would no longer be a threat to eBay/PayPal because eBay has the advantage in worldwide numbers. That advantage is dwindling only due to the fee changes over the last several years. If eBay were to remove fees for listing and re-listing and continue to insist on the use of PayPal for transactions then I say eBay would have a complete stranglehold on the Internet marketplace for years to come.
So, if the market is afraid of eBay reducing fees, what do you think they would say about removing fees altogether?
Evidently Mr. Donahoe did not read my previous thoughts on the matter, but it seems as though I was on the right track. My question is...
If eBay is so excited about buying up and creating free classifieds sites around the world, and since they are obviously closing down the eBay core business of auctions... Why not spin off the auctions marketplace and make it fee free? Sell advertising and rake in the PayPal/Bill Me Later millions.
The reality of eBay 2008 is confusion... The giant has a thorn in its foot and can not find relief...
Someone, please... Pull out the thorn.