eBay Live! 2008... Day 2

Richard Brewer-Hay

Another day is coming to a close here in lovely (but slightly overcast) Chicago and, with the exception of Monday night, I haven’t had a chance to see much of the city so I plan on getting out for a little R&R this evening… Before I do though, a few things to report on from day 2. I apologize for the length in advance.

John Donahoe Keynote

The morning started off with the much anticipated keynote highlighted by presentations by John Donahoe and Lorrie Norrington and the presentation of awards to 2008 Hall of Fame winners. Both John and Lorrie took an extremely personal approach to their presentations (as a native of Chicago, John’s parents were in the audience and we got to see some rather candid, amusing photos from his childhood). His presentation borrowed much from yesterday’s stockholder meeting citing interesting facts and figures regarding the eBay marketplace. Lorrie’s presentation focused on a number of the announcements reported yesterday.

What was ever-present throughout both Lorrie and John’s presentations was a sense of genuine personality and good humor that was well received by the audience which brings me to something I’ve been thinking about a lot since I arrived on Sunday. DevCon and eBay Live! provide an opportunity for worlds to collide. Statistics on a presentation slide become human beings… and seemingly untouchable executives aren’t in an ivory tower. There is a palpable sense that we’re all in this together and we’re all doing what we think is best for the marketplace… and we’re not always going to agree on what that is.

Which leads to the elephant in the living room (aka the McCormick Conference Center here in Chicago): changes to Feedback. It wasn’t all sun and fun during the keynote. When Lorrie reported on the successes eBay has seen with the changes introduced earlier this year there was audible heckling but there was also genuine applause to the following statement:

“When we first announced the PowerSeller incentives in January, we knew that 60% of PowerSellers had DSRs of 4.6 and above,” Lorrie said. “Today, that number is 67%. Also, in January, 15 percent of PowerSellers had DSR of 4.8 and above and today that number has more than doubled with 33% with DSRs of 4.8 or greater.”

Lorrie encouraged all attendees to go to the Feedback panel taking place immediately following the keynote to discuss further… which was very encouraging. However, the room in which that panel was taking place was not large enough to house the number of people wanting to attend (candidly, it should have been at least twice the size it was) and only an hour was allocated for the panel discussion (it could have been at least an extra half an hour to accommodate the extra questions that would have been asked). I managed to get a spot at the front of the room after the presentation period ended (I’ve asked Brian Burke if I can get his slides to share with Ink readers) but before the Q&A panel began.

As anticipated it was a heated discussion at times with calls coming from the audience sometimes drowing out both panelists and people asking questions at the microphone. Having said that, I thought it was a great discussion and pretty productive with a lot of the same questions that came up here on Ink last month. Griff played devil’s advocate to the rest of the panelists which made for some good back-and-forth. My question got asked about half way through by a longtime PowerSeller (why not get rid of neutral feedback all together?) and Chris Dawson from TameBay asked “Shouldn’t every communication of importance be in “My Messages”? (Take it out of email all together)”… which could actually go a long way in dealing with the lack-of-proof issue that comes when reporting extortion. Essentially the issue of forged emails wouldn’t be a factor if all of this was captured in the My Messages tool.

There was also talk of being able to debit a PayPal account when an auction closes starting early next year which seemed to excite a number of folks too.

If you weren’t able to follow my “Tweets” from the panel, you can get a blow-by-blow account at Greg Holden’s live blogging report HERE.

Tomorrow, I look forward to getting out of the classrooms and onto the Solutions Center Expo floor. I’ll also be live blogging from the Town Hall Meeting at 11am CT and the PowerSeller Panel with Execs at 3pm CT tomorrow so if you haven’t done it yet, please go to http://twitter.com/ebayinkblog and start “following me.” But, it is Saturday tomorrow, and I will not be offended if you choose to do something better with your time than to read what I have to say in 140 characters or less every 60 seconds.