eBay Executives Share Favorite Moments on The Marketplace as Company Reinvents Itself
eBay as a company and as a marketplace is going through a lot of transition. Since Jamie Iannone took the job of President and CEO in April of 2020, there has been a renewed focus on strengthening the core marketplace.
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Previously, the company battled activist investors who forced the board to sell off profitable business units and an ugly cyberbullying scandal at the executive level.
Iannone still had to deal with some of the fallout. But when he took the reins of the company, he focused on fixing legacy technology issues and rebuilding categories that make eBay different. Some of these categories had been neglected for years.
eBay’s biggest strength, and its biggest challenge, is trying to be two marketplaces; one for unique items or not-new items; and one for New In Box (NIB) items, the latter of which competes directly with online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.com.
Hence, eBay must find a reasonable middle ground that satisfies customer expectations while serving a diverse group of sellers, from single-person home-based micro-businesses to enterprise-level operations.
For years it seemed eBay was more interested in bringing larger or enterprise-level sellers to the marketplace to compete with Amazon directly. Sometimes, sellers referred to the changes in selling policies as the “Amazonification“ of eBay.
But since Iannone took the lead at eBay, there has been a message that eBay is not Amazon but a different online marketplace with millions of unique products.
With that strategy shift in mind, the company doubled down on this message with 11 key executives recounting their favorite eBay moments.
eBay Key Executives Talk About Their Favorite Marketplace Moments
“On eBay, I sold a Hammond B-3 organ that I’ve owned since I was a teenager to a church. The day it was delivered, the pastor sent me a video of his organist playing it, and I joked with him that it never sounded that good when I played it!”
Jamie Iannone, President and Chief Executive Officer
“I am a self-proclaimed “sneakerhead.” As a child, I used to save my allowances from doing chores to buy sneakers. Now, as an adult, buying my favorite shoes from my childhood is always a nostalgic moment for me. Some old habits die hard — I have continued to add to my collection by finding unique and collectible sneakers on eBay.”
Cornelius Boone, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer
“My favorite eBay experience as a seller was when my wife and I sold our prized home sofa, which was the first one we’d ever bought. We purchased it when we moved into our first home. It was perfect for us and our house, but as our family got bigger, it could not come with us. Naturally, we sold it on eBay. The couple who came to pick it up was just like we were when we first bought it – newly married and moving into a new home. It was perfect for them, and it was great to see it go to be part of their story.”
“My favorite eBay experience in my job is every year in the U.K. we run a set of seller awards where we recognize our business sellers from all parts of the U.K. Their stories of courage and bravery in the face of what is often personal adversity; their trading skill and agility; and the diversity of their backgrounds, businesses and approaches are truly inspirational for me and my team.“
Rob Hattrell, Senior Vice President and Head of eBay Europe
“I love the story of the husband-wife team of Hans and Andrea that I was privileged to meet who started selling yarn on eBay after their clothing operation went out of business. They grew their company to 40 employees, selling 1 million balls of beautiful yarn every year. They live in a small town in Germany away from major urban centers and are providing employment to many who might not otherwise have had a chance to work outside the home.”
Marie Oh Huber, Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel and Secretary
“I love using eBay to find unique, hard-to-get fashion items in my petite size! My favorite classic white shirt from Steven Alan has a unique inside-out seam that makes it very special. I bought the same one again and again, but after a few years, they stopped making it. But I found it on eBay! Also, when Roger Federer moved his brand from Nike to Uniqlo, it was impossible to find his signature logo hat, but of course, I was able to get one for my husband on eBay. Lastly, my son’s size 3 authentic Ferrari racing jacket will forever be the most memorable Halloween costume win ever. These simple but not easy to find items bring so much joy to our household!”
Stefanie Jay, Senior Vice President and Chief Business and Strategy Officer
“When I went to visit some sellers on the outskirts of Shanghai, I realized that the sellers were newlyweds and their three-story home was also their office. They told me their eBay business had helped them pay for both their wedding and their house. They had their staff there and all the rooms were filled with merchandise. This brought home to me in a real way what we do at eBay every day.”
Jay Lee, Senior Vice President of International Marketplaces
“Many great stories come to mind – both my own and those I’ve heard. One theme that holds true in our household is eBay as the place to go to find the items you want at the right price. In December of 2020, my husband purchased really cool binoculars so we could view the Christmas Star, and I purchased a purse for my daughter that was quite difficult to find through normal channels. I was so excited to find it on eBay for the right price and delivery schedule.“
Julie Loeger, Senior Vice President and Chief Growth Officer
“With young children at home, eBay is always my go-to for toys and games, and the oh so hard-to-find replacement parts that inevitably go missing! Only a few weeks ago my four-year-old was devastated that we were missing pieces from his favorite game. eBay saved the day, and I was a hero when three days later the parts arrived in the mail!”
Steve Priest, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
“My 18-year-old son is an avid eBay buyer and seller. I regularly hear his compliments and complaints on both buying and selling experiences. This reminds me how relevant and accessible our commerce platform is to users of all ages.”
Mazen Rawashdeh, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
“With over 1,200 pieces of feedback, it’s hard to think of one moment – every part of my home is touched by eBay. All of our art has been purchased from independent artists on eBay, as have my tropical plants and the ladybugs that protect them, the cool vintage pinball machine that lights up our living room and the throwback to my lost childhood Christmas ornaments that have such strong memories. The amazing diversity of eBay’s sellers and their inventory support my passions.”
Jordan Sweetnam, Senior Vice President and General Manager, North America
“My favorite eBay experience has been searching for hard-to-find Lego figures for my kids. While not the biggest gift for their birthdays, they were always the best and most appreciated. It was so gratifying to see their excitement and joy for these toys that could only be found on eBay.”
Pete Thompson, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer
Still Much Work to Do
The reinvention of eBay is nowhere near complete. There is still a long way to go, and it must keep bringing more sellers to the platform that will list unique inventory buyers want and can’t find elsewhere.
The competition is not just Amazon, but fledgling marketplaces like Poshmark and StockX are nibbling at categories in which eBay is trying to rebuild momentum.
Let’s see if eBay can find a way to accomplish its shift in strategy by sticking to the message that the marketplace is different!
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Richard is co-founder of eSeller365. He has over 17 years of experience on eBay which includes tens of thousands of sales to buyers in over 100 countries and even has experience with eBay’s VeRO program enforcing intellectual property rights for a former employer. And for about two years Richard sold products on Amazon using Amazon FBA in the US.
To “relax” from the daily business grind, for a few weekends a year, he also works for IMSA as a professional race official.