The impressive next generation of eBay’s Marketplace management

You’ll hopefully have read my reports of the many eBay updates that are coming to the site in the coming months. They’ve been reported widely on Tamebay and elsewhere. But the changes we’ll see to the site shortly are only part of a story I witnessed when I was in New York last week at the “New eBay” launch.

I think you had to be there on the ground to fully understand the nature of the change that is going on at eBay right now. As far as I can see, not a lot has been said about the change in corporate culture, and the change in momentum at eBay, that accompanies the site updates.

I’ve been watching eBay for a long time and remember the old days of Meg Whitman and Bill Cobb and others like the late Rajiv Dutta, Dinesh Lathi and Lorrie Norrington. Then John Donahoe came along and soon pretty much every familiar face was gone from the top table. But it’s difficult to remember who replaced them.

But eBay also lost a great deal of the magic and fun that had attracted me to the site in the first place. Yes, I was there to make money but there was a community spirit and a camaraderie that was diminished by the concentration on bigger retailers and the relentless focus on fixed price. I for one missed the ‘golden years’ when people turned up in their 1000s for eBay Live!

John Donahoe remains an enigma to me. But in New York I was excited to meet the new generation of eBay Marketplaces executives who are now in charge of running eBay. Interestingly, they’re all relatively new to the business.

Devin Wenig, the eBay marketplaces President, has only been with eBay for a year. Richelle Parham, Chief Marketing Officer, has been with eBay for two years. Mark Carges, Chief Technology Officer, is one of the longer serving hands, having joined eBay in 2008.

Others are even newer to eBay and still fresh from a start up culture are not afraid to do things differently. Jack Abraham founded Milo in 2008, sold it to eBay in 2010, and invented the new eBay Feed over the past few months. He’s definitely a talent to watch.

But being fresh faced isn’t in itself enough. These guys are also buzzing with ideas. All of them clearly come with genuine enthusiasm, different perspectives and radical ideas. It was refreshing to meet people who are really excited about what eBay can be.

Most importantly, whilst they want to push eBay forward they also seem to recognise that eBay has roots reaching back all the way to 1995. They seem to recognise that eBay has lost its way over the past five years and want to correct the course. But equally, the new eBay they want to build is going to be very different to what we’ve seen before.

eBay Marketplaces felt to me like a young vibrant company again, freed from the shackles of a corporate monolith governed by fusty managers worrying about share prices and group performance.

This new team is concentrating first and foremost on buyers. The buying experience needs to be exciting and addictive if eBay and its sellers are to really thrive. And auctions are back (if you don’t believe me, check your eBay Feed). Unique inventory is back too. Discovering that coveted one-off item will be easier than ever before and eBay will be more personal starting right on the home page.

Lots of sellers I know will be cautious about eBay changing. But it has to. And having met the people who will be leading the charge, I feel very confident for eBay’s future.