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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Smart Money Interview with eBay CEO Meg Whitman

SPECIAL WARNING: This is a bit of a rant.

Although I have bought some things off eBay in the past, I'm not really a big fan of the company. I don't like the fact that they have moved away from pure auctions and more into being a mall for sellers. I hate the "buy it now" feature because it seems like it is getting harder to find bargains on eBay.

Anyway, there is an interview with Meg Whitman in the August (can it be August already?) issue of Smart Money magazine. The interviewer asks the following question:

What have you learned at eBay that could be applied at other companies?

Here was her response:

"Many companies operate from more of a command-and-control environment - they decide what's going to happen at headquarters and have the organization execute. That doesn't work here because it's the community of users who really have control.

"So we enable, not direct. We think of our customers as people, not wallets. And that has implications for how we run the company. We partner with our customers and let them take the company where they think it's best utilized."

Hmmm...Ms. Whitman seems to be detached from how things really are. What about the fee increases that eBay pushed through earlier this year? Did they have a bunch of users saying "you know what,... we aren't paying enough in fees. Why don't you significantly raise our fees so we can be happier?"

This is an example of how CEOs think what they want to think and ignore the rest.

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