Back to it... with one last look at Chicago

Richard Brewer-Hay

And so my first eBay DevCon and eBay Live! came to a close on Saturday night. I managed to make it home to SF safe and sound last night (albeit with a bit of head cold – I’m typing this from my couch with a lot of tissues and hot water with lemon).


There was a lot to take in over the 7 days I was in Chicago. I got to meet with sellers and buyers; developers and co-workers; and bloggers and reporters and it was incredibly inspirational to be honest. During the Town Hall meeting on Saturday, Griff said something that resonated with me: “this is 7 eBay Lives for me now, and I’ve learned more at this one than the last 6 combined”. I had anticipated a week of back-slapping (and possible face-slapping) but instead I was mostly witness to emotional but rational conversations and dialogue between attendees and eBay executives and colleagues. Worthwhile and needed conversations were taking place. Sure, Todd Lutwak became famous over night on YouTube, but nearly every question asked was well-thought out and the executives really were engaging in conversations before, during and after the different sessions.

TameBay’s Sue Bailey obviously attended the same conference I did because I couldn’t agree with her more in her final assessment of the week in Chicago. She quotes Lorrie from the Power Seller panel on Saturday afternoon: “people are working their backsides off to make you successful… there are a lot of new faces up here. We’re sorry for the mistakes of the past, come join us for the future”.

I really hope – for both employees and attendees – that this was more than just an opportunity to get to know the new executives more; more than just an opportunity for some individual eBayers to get a chance to do in-person what they’ve been doing on blogs and messageboards for the past 6 months – vent about recent changes. I believe it was. I really do. Things were put on the record at this eBay Live! (“absolutely no PayPal-only in the USA;” “we’re going to address the Feedback system in time for the Holiday season;” “we realize that neutrals may need re-evaluation”) and it became so much more than a “cheerleading” session (although, if I hear the Batman theme song one more time…) and turned more into a business conference.

I got the impression in talking to some people, that they missed the elaborate hats and fun-and-games of past eBay Lives (although still here, it was definitely tempered a bit) but the majority of attendees that I spoke with were more appreciative of the serious, down-to-business attitude that was coming out of the panels and sessions.

On Saturday afternoon I had a great sit-down conversation with Marcia Cooper, president of and Harvey Levine, vice president. I’ll write more on that in a seperate post but Marcia left me with this sentence to describe her week in Chicago: “we arrived at eBay Live! feeling like combatants and leave feeling like we’re in this together as partners and friends.”

I’ll leave you with the eBay Ink photo collections on flickr: I tried to break out each collection into appropriate sets for you (Town Hall, Clapping Tunnel, Feedback Panel, etc.).