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Hugh Williams, Cassini search architect leaves eBay

By Chris Dawson December 16, 2013 - 5:58 am

Cassini hmHugh Williams, the chief architect of eBay’s new Cassini search engine has left eBay and according to his LinkedIn profile is currently taking some time off with his family.

Cassini is eBay’s new search technology scheduled to replace Voyager, the current incarnation. Whilst there have been many complaints from sellers in the US that they’re being demoted in search by Cassini, it’s worth remembering that whilst eBay search is now running on the Cassini servers, search is still running under the Voyager rules and Cassini is not yet live.

As far as we’re aware Cassini search is only used in very specific searches – those for completed listings and those where there are few or no items returned for a particular search term.

The main difference between Cassini and Voyager is that Cassini will examine much more data when ordering search results, including scanning eBay item descriptions – something that Voyager doesn’t do by default. The hope is that Cassini will throw up much more relevant search results for buyers as well as eliminating searches that aren’t of interest to buyers. For instance in a very simplistic example, if you search for iPhone, Cassini will attempt to determine if you want to see iPhone accessories or if you simply want to purchase an iPhone and should hide accessories from search results.

Hugh WilliamsHugh Williams has some 15 years experience in researching and developing search technologies, both at eBay and prior to that with Microsoft working on their Bing search engine. However whilst his experience may be missed at eBay, Cassini is well under way and Hugh was the manager of around a thousand product managers, engineers, and designers. Cassini is not a one man band and eBay will still develop and implement their new search technology.

If Cassini does start to be fully rolled out in early 2014 eBay search will be turned on it’s head and that will bring new challenges to sellers as they try to optimise their listings to get to the top of search.

Via Auctionbytes

  • Rich Vernadeau
    4 years ago

    Ebay has a great deal of major problems looming: the ongoing federal investigation of Bill Me Later, a spate of class action lawsuits, increasing bad press across the internet from the series of purges of thousands of sellers, etc. Ebay is inches away from a full scale investigation by United States government agencies, and a number of forces are in play determined to push it those remaining inches.

  • Matt
    4 years ago

    eBay fired Hugh Williams, it was not voluntary. The project is delayed by more than 2 years, and still no end is in sight. What is more, it is not even clear if there will be any benefit of cassini over the old search engine. The correct way to experiment would have been to build a quick prototype with the new search features and verify that it leads to better user experience before working on how to scale that to ebay scale. But then, that’s what happens when you hire folks who have no real experience building something from scratch. The CEO should also be held accountable for such hiring mistakes and getting such a grossly mismanaged project to go on for so long.

  • colin
    4 years ago

    hi i play by the rules and guess what my listings are getting further and further down the listings since ebays new picture and free postage have come to pass . i dont mind playing by the rules as long as were all playing by them. guess what ebay are not making people who dont play by the rules suffer ./ as in life the rich get richer the poor get poorer.
    i endeavour to list my items as im required and a lot of the top sellers continue to do as they please and ebay told me today hhmm they wont be doing anything for a couple of months or so ???????????

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