Tag Archives: eBay

A few words about eBay

loudspeaker imageI listened to an informative 22-minute audio clip titled Going Going Gone by James Surowiecki and published by Wired magazine in 2011. Mr. Surowiecki discusses the rise and fall of auctions on eBay and claims that consumer behavior and expectations have radically changed as a result of the web, eBay, Google, and Amazon. eBay auctions grew like mad through about 2007, then began to lose steam. Auctions comprised only 30 percent of eBay sales in 2010.

eBay logo in crosshairsI think that one flaw in the eBay auction model is that the time that an auction ends is preset. A real world auction ends only when bidding stops. The eBay auction model encourages “sniping” — waiting until the last second before placing a bid. (I use eSnipe. It works well. Why put your cards on the table early?) Sniping discourages new eBay bidders.

The growth of Amazon Marketplace has hurt eBay. So has Google: shoppers use Google to easily find even rare items across the web.

Like Craigslist, eBay’s failure to police its neighborhood has resulted in a chaotic marketplace. On the other hand, Amazon’s tight control of its sellers has created a relatively safe, stable marketplace.

If you’ve ever bought or sold on eBay, this is a worthwhile listen.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Change your eBay password now!

eBay has posted this notice on http://www.ebayinc.com/in_the_news/story/faq-ebay-password-change:

Our company recently discovered a cyberattack that comprised [sic] a small number of employee log in credentials, allowing unauthorized access to eBay’s corporate network. As a result, a database containing encrypted password and other non-financial data was compromised. There is no evidence of the compromise affecting accounts for Paypal users, and no evidence of any unauthorized access to personal, financial or credit card information, which is stored separately in encrypted formats. The company is asking all eBay users to change their passwords.

The attack resulted in unauthorized access to a database of eBay users that included:
Your password is the key to your kingdom
Customer name

Encrypted password

Email address

Physical address

Phone number

Date of birth

I changed my eBay password today. When I read through my keepass database.kdb file, I was chagrined to find that I’d used the same password for my accounts on several other sites. I changed them all. You should do the same if you have an eBay account. Here’s why, according to eBay:

I use the same password for multiple accounts. Do I now need to change all of them?

If you used the same password for eBay and any other site, we encourage our customers to change their passwords for those sites too. As a matter of good practice, the same password should never be used across multiple sites or accounts.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Round 1 of eBay v Craigslist has ended

Round 1 awaits the judge’s decision. Round 2 of the eBay v Craigslist courtroom fight will begin in 2010.

After more than a week of courtroom scrapping, the judge who’s presiding over the Delaware lawsuit between eBay and Craigslist has urged the parties to settle out of court. He promised only that he would require time to reach a decision and that neither party would regard it as a clear victory. Chancellor William Chandler II warned: “I have an uncanny ability to make everyone unhappy.”

Case: eBay Domestic Holdings Inc v Newmark, et al, Delaware Chancery Court, No. 3705-CC  (Why Delaware? Craigslist is incorporated there.) My comment on week 1 of trial.

This lawsuit even has political implications: Meg Whitman, who was eBay CEO during the Craigslist stock acquisition, is campaigning as a Republican for the office of Governor of California. Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist) is a major contributor to Democrat candidates and their causes. Craigslist testimony painted Whitman as a less than honest businesswoman, which may cost her votes in the gubernatorial election.

This public airing of dirty laundry could have been avoided if Craigslist had placed controls on the trading of its shares, as defined in
Five Lessons from the eBay-Craigslist Fight: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/dec2009/sb20091222_305115.htm

Craigslist has filed a separate lawsuit against eBay in California. It’s expected to go to trial in early 2010.

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Round 1 of The Main Event (eBay v Craigslist) has begun

The opening bell rings and the contenders come out swinging! eBay’s former CEO Meg Whitman and Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster testify in round 1 of their courtroom fight.

Other headliners who testified last week: eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and Skype CEO Josh Silverman.

eBay has made no secret of their desire to acquire Craigslist and they came close to doing so when eBay bought 28% of Craigslist shares in 2004. But the relationship between the two companies ran off the rails and now they’re suing each other. The trial opened in the state of Delaware this past week, and the CEOs of both have already testified. This courtroom drama will be worth watching.

I view this as a conflict of cultures: eBay is driven by profit; Craigslist is driven by, well, it seems to be driven by service. It’s clear that Craigslist’s founder, Craig Newmark, could cash in his shares at any time and walk away a zillionaire, but he seems to be driven to provide a spam-free forum where sellers and buyers can safely meet and buy and sell.

This summary of yesterday’s courtroom testimonies will bring you up to speed: http://www.law.com/jsp/tal/digestTAL.jsp?id=1202436288314 and you can follow the links from there.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com

eBay spins off Skype

eBay, as expected, sells Skype to a group that includes Netscape founder Marc Andreessen and Skype’s founders.

eBay paid 2.6 billion dollars for Skype in 2005 and sold it on Friday for a bit more.

Why did eBay sell? I think that in 2005, eBay planned to use Skype to allow sellers and buyers to communicate by voice. Apparently, Skype’s founders retained rights to Skype’s underlying file-sharing software, named FastTrack P2P. I suspect that eBay’s lack of ownership of all of Skype’s source code prevented eBay from securely integrating Skype with eBay’s transaction data, so they sold it.

Skype’s founders, Janus Friis from Denmark and Niklas Zennstrom from Sweden, originally used FastTrack P2P to create the infamous Kazaa peer to peer file sharing system. They sold Kazaa to Sharman Networks. Next, they used the FastTrack techology to create Skype, which they sold to eBay. They then founded Joost, which shares video using — you guessed it: FastTrack P2P.

I’d like to meet the lawyers who convinced eBay to buy Skype in 2005 without ownership of its underlying technology.

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Apple 1 PC board on eBay starts at $50,000

Hurry and place your bid on an Apple 1 printed circuit board with accessories. (Bidding starts at US$50,000.)

The Apple 1 was the brainchild of Steve Wozniak. He originally proposed the idea of a single-board computer to his boss at Hewlett-Packard, but H-P foresaw no market for small computers. It used the MOS Technologies 6502 CPU, which was essentially a cheap version of the Motorola 6800 CPU. (Chuck Peddle had been the designer behind both the Motorola 6800 and the MOS-T 6502. He later went on to design the KIM-1 and Commodore PET computers.)

The computer’s 6502 CPU ran at 1 MegaHertz and contained 4 KiloBytes of random access memory.

Steve Jobs’ summer job one year was picking apples, and both Steves liked apples.

The Apple 1 debuted in 1976 and retailed for $666. It was assembled in Steve Jobs’ parents’ garage. The buyer was expected to add his own power supply, case, keyboard, video monitor, and tape drive. Woz thought that he and his partner Steve Jobs might sell a hundred Apple 1s and make a few dollars. Steve Jobs had more ambitious plans.

Woz used lessons learned with the Apple 1 to design the Apple II, which incorporated a keyboard and interfaces inside an attractive custom molded plastic case. It was a huge seller, and the two Steves and Apple Computer Company were off to the races.

So, place your bid now: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=320451173813

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Buying? Selling? There are alternatives to Ebay

I added a page to my website that may be helpful if you’re buying or selling, eBay isn’t a good fit, and you’re looking for an alternative venue. The URL is http://russbellew.com/pages/ebay_sell_alternatives.aspx 
Craigslist and its founder, Craig Newmark, are undergoing what the Chinese call interesting times.
Background: Craig has chosen to keep Craigslist modest but comfortably profitable. (Craig says that in a race between the hare and the tortoise, Craigslist is the tortoise.) The paid staff, all in San Francisco, number about 34. (They use volunteers to assist running the site in other cities.) Ads are free with a few exceptions: housing and job ads in San Francisco and housing ads in New York City require payment. (Craig points out that the real estate advertisers in NYC requested that they be required to pay, to keep spurious ads out.)
If you’ve used Craigslist, you’ll agree that it’s free-form and in general works pretty well, despite the efforts of spammers and scammers.
eBay vs Craigslist: strange bedfellows
Into this idyll strides eBay: they bought 28% of Craigslist’s shares in 2004, placed their guy on Craigslist’s board of directors and are trying, to use a Web 2.0 term, to monetize Craigslist. It’s a classic culture clash. eBay is suing Craig and Craigslist’s CEO (while telling Craig that they’ll gladly buy his shares should he choose to sell), and Craig is suing eBay. Each accuses the other of fiduciary irresponsibility and acting in bad faith.
My new page also contains info about and links to alternative sites where you can buy and sell items at no cost: Bidville, eCrater, and Blujay.
Visit my website: russbellew.com