Monday, June 23, 2008

"eBay Live! 2008 disaster sellers upset over policy change" - YouTube video and part transcript

"eBay Live! 2008 disaster sellers upset over policy change

This is the title of a YouTube video that was on the top page of Google when I put in "eBay Live 2008" as a search term. I thought it would be interesting to see the top links for the conference.

The link is:

Part transcript I found on an eBay board:

SPEAKER:  You know what? We can't do anything (garble) we're giving
them the level of transparency that we can.

EBAYER:  They're gone! They're real (cut off). Look around your room; the room's empty! ebay live's
empty!  The sellers are leaving!

SPEAKER:  Ok, uh, everyone's got their opinion and you can either (garbled)

EBAYER:  Look around with your eyes! Ebay live's empty! There's not even a line at registration.
Look at the empty seats in this room! Sellers are leaving because you're putting them out of business,

*** this is one of the more dramatic exchanges that came out of the convention. I found out more about this seller on Henry Blodget's wit:

"Meanwhile, we spoke to the seller/protester in the video. Here's what he had to say:

    * He sells $300,000 a month of stuff on eBay
    * eBay's changes almost put him out of business overnight--until he figured out how to game the system
    * eBay's changes will put thousands of sellers out of business
    * eBay has taken a formerly democratic system and made it a police state
    * If there was any viable auction alternative to eBay, sellers would leave en masse.  As it is, many sellers are throwing in the towel, setting up their own sites, and buying Google and Yahoo keywords.
    * The eBay Live 2008 conference was a ghost-town: In previous years, it has been standing room only. This year, cavernous conference rooms, banquet halls, and concerts were practically empty
    * A Chris Isaak concert capped off the eBay Live event. The room was so empty, the seller said, that he had a table for 10 right at the front all to himself. "It was like having Chris Isaak play in my living room." "

My comments..I think the descriptions of how "empty" eBay Live 2008 was are an exaggeration. Still, attendance clearly seemed to be down from last year and previous years.

I will be blogging more about this soon, but to try to strike a positive note, there were a few issues on which eBay execs seemed to be willing to correct course, such as giving sellers back a way of removing negative feedback (if warranted, presumably); more details on the Links policy, and more information about or changes to dsr's and the counting of a neutral as a negative.

- Julia, also at

Friday, June 20, 2008

eBay Keynote 08 Part 2: Lorrie Norrington on PayPal and other Changes

Norrington said her score on eBay is 146, and shared that she is a fan of "Westies" -- west Highland Terriers.

She'd bought a custom portrait of her dog from an eBay seller, Denise, and had invited Denise to be her guest at eBay Live.

Getting down to business, Norrington said "what we're doing is not always easy" but they're doing it because people expect more today when they come to eBay.

eBay seller Denise's portrait of Lorrie's Westie.

"What we're doing for you," said Lorrie, we're calling "both buyers and sellers -- an important change for us."

On eBay, PayPal is rolling out expanded [protection] to all U.S. sellers at no additional charge [this brought some mild clapping.]

Some of the talking points slides:




Donahoe & Norrington Pitch Making Buyers & Sellers Happy at eBay Keynote; Only One Spate of Booing

eBay CEO John Donahoe and marketplaces president Lorrie Norrington laid out their case for why they've made the changes they did, and spelled out new changes they thought would help both buyers and sellers, at the eBay Live Keyhote 2008.


A few people I talked to said there was a resigned feeling in the air among sellers, and not as much energy in general. The crowd clapped at the appropriate places, if not overwhelmingly, and in general the execs struck a positive note with emphasis on how sellers do a good job, and the variety of items that can be found on the site.

There was, however, one moment of booing from the crowd, when Norrington talked about the feedback changes. As one of the sellers I talked to said, "that was a first" for an eBay Live Keynote, and I believe that's true.

Other sellers said they were relieved people held to a sense of decorum and that things didn't get crazy..they said they had been worried people would flare up more.


However, it was clear Donahoe and Norrington were trying to emphasize the positive efforts being made for sellers, including, what I thought very hopeful, an indication that they were "looking at a new feedback withdrawal system" [great clapping] and they hoped to address it by the holidays.

The event started out with the annual ritual of asking the audience to all stand, and then progressively sit down as they went through higher and higher feedback numbers. By the time they got to 100,000 feedbacks and above, only a handful of sellers were still standing.

"We're doing a lot to try to strengthen the future of eBay" said Donahoe, and that they knew sellers had been asked to "absorb many changes."


John Donahoe on the big screen.

I thought Donahoe did a good job of humanizing himself. He came off as more natural and funny than as I had an image of him or as I remember from hearing him on webcasts, at last year's Live, etc.

He said he wanted people to get to know him better, and talked about his childhood right here in Chicago, and that his parents (who were in the audience) had instilled good values in him.

What I thought was really wonderful and funny was that he showed pictures of himself as a young seller (he quipped that he had yet to be busted by Trust & Safety).


To do penance, he said, he spent some time as an altar boy. (That's the young John as seller in the far left photo).

Here is a pic of him as a teen -- he quipped he wasn't wearing the same pants today; he couldn't fit into them (and they don't match the couch anymore):

He said his parents taught him to look for the good in people, and those are eBay's values -- "We believe people are basically good."

He said buyers want a great deal, and fast, easy experience. Sellers want buyers that keep coming back, a platform that can meet your needs; competitive pricing and more predictability.

He said he heard many stories from sellers about how other sellers were bending or breaking the rules, ruining it for everyone, and eBay should reward the good sellers.

Also they wanted a reduction in up-front fees and "better align your success with my success."

Last year $60 billion of goods was sold on eBay, and he said "we will always do what's on the collective good of the marketplace."

He thanked sellers at the end and introduced Lorrie Norrington.

Norrington opened with a video that showed Elizabeth Bennett, of Africa Direct, who sells African beads, art, and other objects.

Continued in second blog post.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No Big Surprises at eBay Shareholder Mtg. 2008

I just got back from eBay's annual shareholder's meeting, this year held in Chicago where the eBay Live conference kicks off today.

There were a lot of stats about company metrics and growth, but I don't think any really tough questions as had been anticipated by some.

Probably the toughest question came from one seller who was concerned about how much easier he thought it was to list items on than on eBay. "Amazon could take you guys over," he said.  He said amazon has this large database of items -- "you can just click on the item and sell them."

He alluded to the fact that it was hard to deal with acquiring pictures for eBay and said he'd even thought of starting a site, ""

A view of the meeting before it started (pictures during the actual mtg. were not allowed):

100_1854Pierre opened the mtg in rote fashion, and the three shareholder proposals -- election of officials, naming PriceWaterHouseCoopers as official auditor, etc etc -- sailed thru.

John Donahoe then started things off by saying they wanted to take a moment to recognize Meg Whitman , CEO for the last 10 years, saying she'd "done a phenomenal job serving our community of users and shareholders as well."


Meg meeting with a shareholder after the meeting.

Getting in to "talking about eBay Today," he went thru some financials: "eBay's been associated with strong financial performance."

- In 2007 - 29% growth, very profitable

- operating income grown to 2.5 billion, also 29% growth

- attractive eps/earnings per share: $1.53 - 46% growth over previous.

- strong free cash flow -- $2.2 billion in '07.


He said they try to manage in a responsible way:

- make "organic investments" in business (first time I've heard that phrase)

- make acquisitions

- buy back stock - eBay bought back $4.2 billion of stock last year.

eBay aspires to be the world's largest online marketplace, where "practically anyone can find practically anything almost anywhere."

$60 billion in merchandise successfully funneled through eBay last year. It's in over 30 countries in the world.

If eBay were a retailer, it would be the 6th largest, behind Wal-mart, Home Depot, Kroger, Costco and Target.

eBay did $59 billion in '07; Wal-Mart did $351 billion.

Some fun stats:

On eBay, every 26 minutes a Ford Mustang is sold.

Every 2 minutes a major appliance sells; and every 4 seconds a pair of shoes are shold.

Donahoe got the biggest laugh of the session when he quipped that he thought some of the eBay executives were buying shoes every couple of hours.

And he said there are "thousands of statistics like this."

- 18% of trade in the first quarter this year was cross-border.

eBay has 1 billion page views a day. 100 million listings concurrent, updated more than 500x/sec.

- Double the transaction volume of the NYSE.

Then he turned to "Improving the Health of the Marketplace."

Their job, he said, was to be "good custodians and stewards of the marketplace" -- to make sure it's providing a safe environment, the buyer gets value and selections, and sellers make a living.

1) Trust

They've made changes to improve trust - the feedback system, and incentives.

2) Search

120 million items in search - help buyers find items more quickly and easily.

- implemented "best match" search.

3) Selection

- adding additional categories, make sure we have the kind of inventory merchants and buyers want.

The Marketplace Businesses

Include a broad range of brands such as StubHub,, Kijiji, Loquo, iBazaar, and one this blogger had not heard of called "giltididiyup" (Please don't quote me on that spelling!).

Classifieds is growing fast, he said --   leading site in 1000 cities in over 55 countries.

131 million total live ads, 344,000 added each day.

- 97% of revenue comes from eBay, StubHub and; $5.3 billion.


PayPal is "truly a global business" -- using 17 currencies. 1/3 of people in the UK have a PayPal account.

100,000 web sites accept PayPal.

Core asset of PayPal is its users -- 141 million registered users.

Compare it to Chase, which has 115 million.

PayPal total payment volume is $47 billion dollars; 37% growth over previous year.

PayPal's off-eBay biz is growing as well -- "merchants services."


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Julia's Guide to eBay Live 2008

Julia's Guide to eBay Live

from the Yard Salers newsletter, at


Hello, all!

In our last newsletter, I said I had been as busy as a one-armed paper
hanger, then mentioned as an aside that "I don't know what that is or
if anything like it even existed." Leave it to you, my wonderful
readers, to fill me in on the origins of that saying...reader Maureen
tells me the "You only have 1/2 of the saying...the end of it is: WITH
AN ITCH" (use your imagination as to why he has an itch. "If you can
picture a one armed man trying to hang wallpaper and'll see a pretty busy guy in a lot of trouble!!!"

Thanks for sharing, Maureen..I confess I never knew that!

OK, now that we've gotten that issue out of the way, I'll share
one of the things that's kept me unusually busy in the last couple

Memorial Day weekend here in the DC area boasted beautiful, sunny and
crisp weather. Saturday, I was just heading out to take my daughter to
her usual gymnastics class, when my son came running in from the
backyard, very upset, holding up his arm. It seems he'd been swinging
too hard on the swing, fallen off, and broken his wrist.

It turns out the poor little guy had broken his wrist in two
places...the ulna and the radius (not the humerus...I know, there's a
bad joke in there about how the whole situation was not humorous, etc.)

So we had a long day at the hospital ahead of us, and the
weekend didn't exactly unfold as I'd planned, but c'est la vie. He's
doing OK, in an over-the-elbow cast, and looking forward to the day in
a few weeks when he gets a short cast, and then a waterproof cast so he
can go in the water when we go to the beach in June.

Speaking of June, some of you had asked me to write a guide to
eBay about going there, how to get the most out of it, etc.
So in this issue, in the interest of expediency and getting it out
before the actual convention starts June 18, I bring you Julia's
handy-dandy guide to eBay Live.

And, for those of you not going, the good news is there will be
a lot of coverage of it, including, as I will write about, many of the
presentations available on YouTube, the next best thing. More on that
in the feature article.

Yard sales...I've had a few good finds in the past few weeks,
the best being a set of Adobe "CS2" software which is a combo of
Adobe's most popular graphics programs, including Illustrator,
Photoshop, InDesign, and Acrobat. One thing I learned about selling
Adobe software is, if you want to be able to pass the registration on
to the next person, as in, the person you're selling it to, ask the
person you're buying it from to transfer the license to you in writing,
so you can pass it on. Or, get their phone number, so they can call
Adobe and leave instructions.

A grand total of one of you wrote back to say you were
interested in seeing the photo of Richard Chamberlain in his fraternity
in the Pomona College yearbook I found. This, of course, means I plan
to run the photo. But not in this issue.

This issue is short, as I am sending it out from an airport and want to
get it out before my plane boards. But more in the next issue!

Let's get on to eBay Live without further ado.



1) eBay Live 2008: Julia's Handy-Dandy Guide


eBay Live: a three-day festival where sellers, eBay management, and
third party vendors and speakers come together to talk about all things
auction and ecommerce. (This year may be a little hairier than usual,
if the comments on the AuctionBytes blog are any person
suggested that eBay execs "wear their flak jackets"!)

But if you've never been, how do you know what to expect? And if you can't go, where to look for the news?

Here's a rundown:

The Big Events:

Every year, eBay puts on at least three major sessions that are
usually jammed full of attendees. These are events I advise you not to
miss because they're where a lot of the action takes place:

- The Keynote, Friday morning, June 20.

This is the big meeting that strikes the, well, keynote for the
rest of the event. Typically there's some kind of opening
entertainment, eBay execs run through the latest eBay, PayPal (and more
recently, Skype and Kijiji) stats, and some announcements are made.

A tradition at this event is for Meg to ask the audience to all
stand, and then sit down as she calls out feedback numbers. If you have
more than that number of feedbacks, you remain standing. At the end,
there are usually only a handful of people standing, and their feedback
numbers are higher than everyone else's; last year, they went up to
100,000 feedbacks and about six folks were still standing! Whew.

- Town Hall, Saturday, June 21. Here is where eBay execs,
usually moderated by Griff, and the seller population in general, get
to interact more closely than in other sessions, and there is usually a
long q&a. This year's event, given the many recent changes on eBay
unpopular sellers, should be veeerrrrry interesting. eBay also has an
"overflow" room set up to handle extra people if more people show up
than it can handle in the big room.

Speaking of which, if you want a decent, or at least close-in,
seat for these or any eBay session, but especially the major events,
you'd be wise to get there at least 10-15 minutes early.

- The Gala, usually Saturday night starting around 8 p.m. (I don't know
the exact day/time for it this year, though I hear the entertainment
will be Chris Isaak. ya s'pose the opening song will be "Wicked
Game," and will there be any double-entendre there?

Other Comments and Happenings:

The Exhibit Hall

This is the showcase of third party eBay developers, authors,
some publishers (including my ebay Top 100 Tricks" publisher, Wiley,
and various businesses catering to eBay sellers, set up shop and
exhibit their latest wares. It's an ongoing event throughout the three
days of the conference, so you can shuffle in and out as you have time
between sessions.

One of the big attractions here is somewhat random: eBay
employees come out like little blue-polo-shirted fairy godpeople every
15 minutes or so, when a theme song is played, bearing big handfuls of
free ebay collectible pins.

People then swarm the eBay people like lemmings, open hands
thrust forward, to grab their free booty. One year I went slightly
crazy with this and was trying to get a whole set of pins. In
subsequent years, I've felt it's not worth the effort of running
yourself ragged...if a pin guy shows up along the way, great; I'm not
going to plan my convention around it. Not tp mention, I'm usually too
busy blogging, writing, and attending sessions to do much of that.

Having said that, it is kinda nice to get some free booty. :)

eBay Live Sessions:

eBay employees, experts, and hired "big name" speakers put on a
panoply of smaller seminars and sessions throughout the three days, the
meat and bones of the conference.

I want to attend a lot of these sessions; in fact it can be
frustrating because you may want to attend more than one that's being
held at the same time. Sometimes you can track down the course material
on cd, or see if a blogger has covered it. I'm also finding that some
sessions are being videotaped and uploaded, at least in part, to
YouTube. I found this video of the "highlights" of Andy Sernovitz's
session (which I missed last year) the the 'Tube here:

Some of the key speakers this year are:

- the aforementioned Sernovitz.

- Seth Godin, author, Squidoo founder, top blogger, and probably several other superlatives.
is a link to what I wrote about him at last year's eBay Live for

- Jay Berkowitz.

I hadn't heard of him, but here's what it says about him on one blog:
"Jay Berkowitz of the Ten Golden Rules Will be a featured speaker at
eBay Live 2008!

Jay is scheduled currently to speak just following eBay CEO
John Donahoe and should be a big hit with his Ten Golden Rules of
Internet Marketing presentation. I know that many of the attendees of
the conference were very impressed with Jay�s speech
and style and they simply wanted more of the information Jay had to

Practical Matters

You'll be walking a lot at eBay Live, so wear comfortable shoes
if at all possible. At the last eBay Live, they had these guys driving
around the hotels in these golf cart-like things, giving people lifts
around the hotel, but I'm not sure they'll have that this year.

Food and drink in the convention center is likely ot be year I paid some $4 for a bottled water. That may have
been Vegas.

At the big events, like the Gala, eBay provides food and drink.

Check out the eBay Live discussion board on eBay for people's
tips, too, and don't forget to check the AuctionBytes site for

That's it for now. Questions? Send them to me!


"Selling on 'The River: Hedging Your Bets on Amazon

Selling on "The River"

Between eBay and amazon, you're looking at over 100 million
visitors per month. Why not harness the power of both? It just doesn't
make sense not to.

Former eBay University instructor Steve Lindhort's ebook will
open your eyes to all the other types of things you can sell on amazon
beside books, and how.

At $29.97, I think it's a good value. And you also get:

- "25 Things eBay Sellers Must Know about Selling on Amazon" and

- SPECIAL BONUS - "How to Scout for Top Sellers with Your Cell Phone."


Again, you can buy it at:

Selling on "The River"


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Uh-oh..harder to list on eBay for 2-computer people?

I got this message logging in to eBay from my laptop today.

My first reaction was, oh no, is it now going to be
a hassle to list stuff
on eBay from my laptop,
which I do a lot?

Dear Julia L. Wilkinson:            

We would like to tell you about a new security initiative. To

help protect the Community against
fraudulent access to our members� accounts, eBay has

started noting which computers members
typically use to conduct their buying and selling activity.

Sometime this summer, eBay will begin checking to ensure

you are logging
in from the same machine you have successfully used

previously, whether it is a home or
business computer. If you attempt to list an item from

a different computer � for example, from a PC
you are borrowing in a hotel or library � eBay will

ask you to confirm your identity.

The best way to confirm your identity is to choose

an automated phone call � either now, or in
2 minutes -- that eBay will make to the number you

have registered with us. The phone call will
provide you with a PIN number to use to complete

the confirmation process. This allows the system
to confirm it is really you logging in to list items.

If this is not possible, we will provide alternatives

such as confirming through
Live Chat or receiving a call to a new number.

These alternate methods will require you to

provide more information (such as your secret

question answer).

Most sellers will need to confirm their identity

infrequently. By making sure you have a current

phone number and a secret question and answer

on file with eBay, you can help ensure this

authentication process goes quickly and smoothly.

Have a cell phone? Registering it could save you time
If you carry a mobile phone, we encourage you to add

this number as a secondary phone number in your

registration details, so that we can reach you when

you are away from your business or residence where

you normally use your trusted computer. Your

secondary number will not be shared with other

members and will be treated in accordance with

our Privacy Policy.

Please take a minute to

[link to update your contact information]

Note: The PayPal Security Key provides additional

protection for your account.
Order and activate the Security Key on your eBay

account if you would like an alternative
way to confirm your identity.


eBay Trust and Safety Department

Monday, June 9, 2008 fun, free new site for yard and estate sales

I found a great new site for people searching for, as well as people having, yard and estate sales.

It's called, and it has a neat, elegant design. It lets you create a login and define your location on a map, and you can then search for yard and estate sales in your area, which show up as little flags on the map.

If you're having a sale, you can post an ad for free. Check it out!

eBay shopping via widget in today's Journal

The Wall Street Journal has a big technology report section today, June 9, 2008: "All Things Digital."

eBay pops up in the section by Mylene Mangalindan about "Widget Shopping":

"Taking a page from social-networking sites, e-retailers are using widgets -- those little Web gizmos that track friends' favorite songs or deliver daily horoscopes -- to give customers a way to shop without going to the store's site.

"With a widget from eBay Inc., a customer can track the bidding on, say, collectible pottery from her Facebook page or personalized Google home page."

In truth, though I've had the eBay marketplace widget for a while on my facebook page, I hadn't used it much. I just took a gander at it today and was surprised to find it listed a bunch of stuff about my recent activities, feedback, and plus my facebook friends' eBay buying and selling.

Still trying to wrap my brain around the eBay to Go widget. I set up a "search," with it for Cole Haan air shoes, but I don't see where it went on my facebook page after that. (OK, so it's Monday, maybe I'm missing something).

So far it hasn't become, for me, the main way I use eBay, but time will tell.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

More PayPal Spam: The Smug Dude is the Tipoff

What's wrong with this picture? The photo of the guy just doesn't quite look corporate enough. A smug teen hacker, perhaps, or his friend? always, people...mouseover, mouseover, mouseover! Go to the link and look at the url that comes up when you mouse over it. If it looks weird, freaky, or anything other than, ignore it. In fact, I'd say even if it looks like, go to paypal via your browser, not an email message!

PayPalMay 2008

Dear users of PayPal services,

    Due to
upcoming year 2008, and recent changes in PayPal's Service Agreement you need to
submit additional details on your PayPal account. Starting from 2008 all PayPal
accounts will come with complete detailed information! Identity protection
matters. And PayPal works day and night to help keep your identity safe.

Secure Server

Identity protection matters. Get Verified!

According the new changes in Service Agreement any
unverified account will be deleted from the system in 72 hours after receiving
this letter.


Tips to
Protect Your Account

PayPal's world class fraud investigators share 5 important actions
you can take to help prevent identity theft and protect your account.

Update Your Profile

If you've closed a credit card or bank account recently, remember to go to
PayPal's website to update your profile.

Identity Protection

New spoof

Learn how to spot and avoid fraudulent "spoof" emails
and websites with PayPal's handy 5-step spoof tutorial.

Protect yourself with

Guard yourself against "spoof" emails with the SafetyBar,
and against fraudulent websites with the eBay Toolbar.

Checklist if you are a

When you suspect a problem with your identity, you have
to act fast. Use PayPal's checklist for what you should do.

Merchant Offers

FREE Norton AntiSpam download with purchase of
Norton AntiVirus.
Unlimited listening and downloading. All the music
you want. FREE trial.
Learn about and fund locally run social and
environmental projects.

Thank You for using

This notification was sent to you by
PayPal. To modify your notification preferences, log in to your PayPal account,
click the Profile sub-tab, then click the Notifications link under Account
Information. Changes may take up to 10 days to be reflected in our mailings.
PayPal will not sell or rent any of your personally identifiable information to
third parties. For more information about the security of your information, read
our Privacy Policy at

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Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
PayPal is located at 2211 N. First St., San Jose, CA 95131