In a story today on Yahoo News and commented upon by Don Reisingers cnet blog, it has been reported that eBay is cutting jobs worldwide. The Digital Home blog post attributes this move as a sign that eBay is fading away because of poor management. My first reaction was to think of that statement as eBay being akin to a dodo bird as a ridiculous premise. But then I thought…
Who in their right mind (back in the year 2000) would have thought that AOL would be irrelevant by the end of the first decade of this century? America Online was the premier destination and portal of the web. America may not have loved everything about America Online, but we all pretty much used them or came in contact with their products. AOL was a dominant presence and market analysts all agreed that it was an outstanding value. Sound familiar?
Then something changed – the Internet got faster and it became easier to surf with faster connections provided by new competitors to the Dial Up ISP portion of AOL. The destination became a mere speed bump on the road of Internet commerce. This is a piece of historical reference for the executives currently running eBay. Do not think you have the world dominated; do not believe you have won the game. The game never ends and you must stay competitive or the market will decide your fate.
I am a solid believer in eBay, but I have not agreed with many of the changes or many of the acquisitions or moves in recent years. There are points to be considered when looking back at the AOL history. And there is truth in what Don Reisinger writes. While we may not agree that this is the point of no return for eBay, we do think the management should remember certain lessons history can teach. No one wants to become the AOL of the next decade.