Recent earnings announcements along with this last years alteration of the core philosophy at eBay seem to have had a negative effect on many of the third party solutions providers who have built businesses upon the foundation eBay created in the late 1990's.
Rumblings and rumors always abound in a industry such as this, but recently changes made at the top levels of some of the most prominent 3rd party providers seems to predict a consolidation and possibly belt tightening within the firms who revolve around and depend upon the eBay brand.
It is true that some new players are entering the market with interesting solutions, software and services yet at the same time, are the executives at older and more established companies making what could be considered exit strategy moves?
From the announcement of a new CEO at Infopia, Coleman Barney, which in and of itself is seen as a move towards new blood and not a barometer an industry crumbling, to the recent departure of the managing director of Frooition, a UK based eBay stores and template design company, changes at the top of several eBay centric service providers seem to be occurring at a faster rate than normal.
I was quite surprised when I noted earlier today that Grenville Wheland had left Frooition and is now seeking new opportunities through LinkedIn (see Below). Grenville had been purported to be one of the financial backers of Frooition and while his skills as a start up entrepreneur were also touted, on the outside we can only wonder if his reasons for departing may have included deeper financial concerns for the future of the business model.
Frooition grew very quickly into a multinational marketing powerhouse for eBay based design work and is still strong today yet they have relied upon eBay as the basis of the business strategy for what seems to be too long when branching out into eCommerce was an available avenue for expansion. My readers will know that I have worked with Frooition as a representative in the States since mid 2007, My dealing with Mr Whelan have always been cordial and above board. I am sure Frooition will notice his departure.
Channel Adviser, while not changing the steadfast leader of the pack Scot Wingo, has had some major personnel cuts in recent months. As eBay has itself, a Rolodex or Blackberry full of contacts at eBay in 2007 would be suspiciously empty today.
The industry that has based itself on the largess of this giant we call eBay is morphing into a new animal. Eventually changes beget changes. While we all wish the likes of Grenville Whelan and Bjorn Espenes of Infopia the best (Bjorn is now the COB), we only have to wonder... who is next?
While riding the gravy train of eBay can be a sound business decicion (at least many of us thought it was), the hard crash at the end of the tracks can be just as abrupt. Other have noted that eBay may be on a uncontrollable death spiral (i.e. Scot Wingo) into the abyss that some great companies (AOL) fall into.
Is it possible that some of these highly placed executives see a bad wind a blowin and have chosen to diversify before the end comes?
I know that even though my heart will always have a place for eBay and I still promote the site and services surrounding its capabailities, I myself have diversified and are very glad that I did. I no longer depend completely upon eBay as a seller or a service provider. Having options for myself and my clients is what I am all about now.
Some other service oriented eBay centric companies could take a note...