Many people will forever associate eBay with Meg Whitman, the charismatic CEO who brought the small auction company into the mainstream and made it not only the premier Internet auction site, but a serious competitor in the ecommerce landscape. Yet Whitman has been planning to step down for some time now, though some may associate the news with the fact of eBay’s current stock performance; she will remain with the company on their board of directors after March 31st when Scott Thompson, the current CTO of PayPal takes over.
But has eBay’s time come and gone? It was far more profitable back in 2006 shortly after it had taken over Skype, the online telephone service that offered an alternative to services like Vonage that didn’t perform as expected financially. Back in those days the sky was the limit and eBay was making money hand over fist charging small fees to offer services to both buyers and sellers, streamlining both the online auction process and making it easier to collect money through their money transfer service PayPal. In fact my heavy usage of eBay as a seller was in part my introduction to the merits of PayPal; let’s just say that I still use PayPal on a daily basis, eBay I haven’t bought or sold merchandise through in months.
There is no question that eBay is still the undisputed king of the online auction business model; many would be entrepreneurs have worked their system and made both them and eBay plenty of money. But there are alternatives, and different models of selling and buying goods online, and the novelty of doing transactions on eBay has been lost. At the same time eBay aggressively spread to other countries and expanded their approach to offer services for those looking to do more complex transactions online, such as buy real estate or purchase an automobile.
When it is all over and done with you will inevitably return to eBay to search for that special something that you cannot find anywhere else, that is in limited supply. It may be a unique item that is a testament to the height of a company’s popularity and relevancy, such as Ralph Lauren clothing made in 1992 commemorating the 25th anniversary of Polo or Coca-Cola glass bottles or advertisements from an earlier time, such as the twenties. Or perhaps you have a true antique that you want to share with the world and are interested in knowing not so much what it has been appraised at, but what people are truly willing to pay for it. eBay is still that site that makes such an important valuation possible through complete strangers that will only know each other through electronic communication.
So while eBay isn’t the talk of the Internet it will always be remembered as that company that served to redefine what the retail experience could be online. You can’t think of Internet auctions without bringing up eBay. Always a testament as to how to build a profitable brand online, which is something that prior to their success individuals were skeptical of the possibilities of such, particularly after the dot.com area, eBay remains …