Can eBay reform and prosper after the PayPal spilt?

In the 16 or so years I’ve been associated with eBay, I’ve always been a champion. I like the idea of what it is and what it can help people do. At a most basic level, opening up an international, internet audience of buyers to ordinary people is still an inspiring ideal. I worked at eBay from 1999 – 2006 and after that I’ve been an outsider and watcher.

But the eBay/PayPal split is on its way and I really wonder if eBay has what it takes to survive and grow purely as a marketplace business.

Come the 17th of July, eBay will be flying solo once more. There will be buyers circling, wanting to snap it up and all of a sudden it won’t have the PayPal screen to cover its not so glam performance of late. More worryingly, I think they’ve spent nearly a year working on the terms of the split and spent very little time serving sellers and considering what comes after.

Let’s be clear. eBay isn’t growing at anywhere close to the ecommerce average. There is enormous discontent among the seller community. eBay is widely perceived as distant and unbending by the sellers who all pay good money but get shoddy customer service as standard. Pundits and commentators don’t look at eBay and see an innovative, exciting or vivacious company.

So what is to be done? eBay must reform if it is to prosper. The question is whether eBay wants to change. I don’t know. But I hope that it can. CEO Devin Wenig seems capable and willing to transform the company.

It would be easy to dwell on very specific changes that would be desirable but the problems that need solutions are bigger than that. It’s more than a tweak here and a fumble there that’s needed. eBay must surely embrace massive reform if it is to not just survive but prosper.

As an eBay seller your views count. You know eBay better than any employee but you likely feel that you don’t have a voice. So now is your chance.

Think about what you want your business to be. Consider how a future eBay firing on all cylinders could help. Ask for substantial changes rather than tiny amendments.

What are the big picture changes that you think eBay needs to embrace if it’s to prosper? Think big.