eBay CEO John Donahoe Speaks at FORTUNE Brainstorm: TECH 2009

By: Richard Brewer-Hay

As most of you know I’ve been battling a rather nasty stomach bug for over a month now. It has disrupted my schedule and seen me in and out of the eBay office vs doctor’s office for the past 4 weeks. Yesterday was unfortunately no exception. On a day when PayPal held a Platform Preview and became the first and only global payments platform open to third-party developers and a day in which John Donahoe joined Fortune’s editor at large, Adam Lashinsky, on stage at FORTUNE Brainstorm: TECH 2009 down in Pasadena, I found myself stuck getting yet more tests and sadly had to miss both.

John Donahoe / Adam Lashinsky @ FORTUNE Brainstorm: Tech 2009Luckily for me, and consequently you, I was able to get reports back from colleagues attending both events. As a result, here is a recap of John’s onstage discussion from the Brainstorm: TECH event. A huge thanks to Young Mi Kim for providing me with a recap of the proceedings…

There were about 250 people in the room consisting of technologists and business leaders. A poll at the beginning of the session showed that 57% of the audience use eBay; 65% use PayPal; and 59% use Skype.

Overall, John re-emphasized that eBay has changed… and that change had to happen because of consumer expectations and the way in which people now shop online. Again, reiterating the fact that eBay is no longer just about auctions, he stressed that everything we do is in consideration for long-term success: investing in technology and the customer experience.

John speaks to FOX Business News live from the FORTUNE Brainstorm: TECH 2009

In addition to referencing the PayPal platform news of yesterday – and that there is now the ability to pay someone via Twitter using TwitPay (PayPal is the payment engine behind that) – he also talked about the probability that one day PayPal will be bigger than eBay (although he did refrain from speculating on a possible new company name). PayPal currently represents 35% of company revenue, and off-eBay business grew 32% in Q2. In fact, every area of our business except for the auction format grew this last quarter, and is outpacing e-commerce.

Moving forward, we have two core areas of focus: e-commerce and payments… and we’re in the early days. But we also recognize that we’re at an inflection point … we need to reinvent ourselves and evolve into a truly global e-commerce company.

Bottom line, it’s clear that there is an emphasis on elevating the role of technology at eBay, and we’re building out the platform as a result. I hear it and see it in pretty much every meeting I attend. Some of the results of that are yet to see the light of day and until they do, I’m holding off judgment but am not-so-secretly excited to be here as they take place.

No one could say that reporting from eBay HQ for the past year and a half has been boring. eBay is 18 months into a 3-4 year turnaround and I’m very much looking forward to reporting on the next 18 months. Stay tuned.

Cheers,
RBH