Yesterday I got a chance to talk with a room full of eBay folks, and it was a bit different than my time at Yahoo, Google, Amazon, or Microsoft. I’ve always viewed eBay as a more buttoned up and, well, corporate company, perhaps because Meg Whitman is such a Wall St. icon.
After I ran through some passages of the book and told a few stories, we got to a pretty robust Q&A (one attendee, Alan Lewis, wrote it up here). A lot of questions about Google, not surprisingly, given the Base announcement.
One interesting question was “What should we (eBay) be doing that we’re not doing right now?” I thought for a while and it struck me that the answer was “experimenting.” Google has a whole culture based on that idea, and Yahoo has been doing a lot of it lately. And Amazon, well, Alexa’s news was very keenly watched in the halls of eBay yesterday.
Where the real experimentation is happening on eBay is with its developers, who are building all sorts of interesting companies on top of eBay’s web services APIs and platform. But the company itself is not well known for creating interesting new web widgets. With the purchase of Skype, however, and the need to grow beyond its core offerings, I sensed from my conversation there that this may change, and soon.