The Cold Truth II

Here’s what eBay thinks went wrong with eBay:

OVER the summer of 2004, at the annual executive retreat that eBay insiders call “Telluride,” a product strategy team argued that eBay needed to break into the promising world of digital media. Pointing to the popularity of services like Napster and the new iTunes music store from Apple, the group predicted that media like books, music and movies would inevitably be distributed digitally, over the Web.

EBay, they argued, needed to ride that wave.

That insight — which did catch on at Amazon and is now responsible for high-profile efforts like the Kindle and Amazon’s MP3 store and video-on-demand service — went nowhere at eBay.

“Nobody really shut it down. The process shut it down,” says a former eBay executive who was on the product strategy team but requested anonymity to avoid alienating former colleagues. “The company was obsessed with making quarterly numbers.”


Now let me tell you what’s really wrong with eBay.

eBay is ugly, its search function is cumbersome, and if it has recommendations, they’re hidden so well I don’t know how they find them. And — oh, yeah — user reviews, comments, discussions, blog, etc., at all absent.

Did I also mention that eBay is ugly? Its design appears to be straight out of the mid-’90s because, well, it is. Guys, it’s almost the Twenty-Teens — it’s time to drop the World’s Ugliest Shade of Yellow motif for something a little more up-to-date.

In the meantime, I’ll keep doing the bulk of my online shopping at Amazon.


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