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No longer doing eBay’s bidding

Scott Jagow Mar 31, 2008

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Doug Krizner: Today is Meg Whitman’s last day on the job as CEO of eBay. From here, she’s got a new role as national co-chairwoman of McCain’s presidential campaign. And there’s talk of Whitman considering a run for California governor in 2010.

Let’s bring in Rob Enderle, he’s a Silicon Valley tech analyst. Rob, how important was Meg Whitman to the success of eBay?

Rob Enderle: Ah, very! She brought a lot of maturity into the firm when they needed it and allowed the firm to grow in a very measured manner and not make a lot of the mistakes that were made by the majority of dot-coms that existed in the early days of eBay. But on the other hand, in terms of actually stepping up and keeping the buyers and sellers happy, that hasn’t proven to be a strength once the company got big. I think Meg showed tremendous confidence in the start and the transition phases of the company, but as a sustaining manager, she wasn’t that good. And it’s probably good that she’s leaving so that somebody can come in and restore the strength that I think eBay has lost.

Krizner: So what’s the biggest issue facing eBay right now?

Enderle: Trust. Right now, it is the most popular platform to use as a source for phishing and going after people’s identity. And they’re trying to alter their model to keep everybody happy, which invariably has the impact of making an awful lot of additional people that aren’t unhappy with you unhappy in the process. And so that combination of things would indicate that eBay is actually in worse shape now than it was two or three years ago.

Krizner: In terms of competition, they virtually have a monopoly on this auction market. I mean, what would it take for a Google to chip away at something like this?

Enderle: Well, they’d have to push harder and find a way to love the buyers and sellers that are currently becoming disenchanted with eBay. The first attack sector, though, would be one of trust. If you can create a platform where I can better trust that the person at the other side of the transaction is who they say they are, and not somebody out of Nicaragua or Nigeria that wants my personal information or just simply wants to rip me off, then I think they can make some huge inroads here. EBay is, right now, very vulnerable on trust.

Krizner: Rob Enderle is a tech analyst at the Enderle Group in Silicon Valley. Hey Rob, thanks so much for talking to us.

Enderle: Hey, my pleasure. Take care.

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