How eBay Surrendered Its 'Religion'

Ryan Tate · 09/25/09 07:59PM

Here's an extraordinary video of eBay CEO John Donahoe bragging about how the company has sidelined what was once a core competency: Online auctions. Why solve a hard business problem when you can run away from it?

Why founders win

Owen Thomas · 11/18/08 02:20PM

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like to talk about their hopes of "changing the world." Yes, of course: Changing the world from one in which they are poor to one in which they are fabulously wealthy. The question in the air is whether the founders of companies do a better job at creating wealth, for themselves and their investors, than professional managers. With Yahoo announcing Jerry Yang's plans to step down as CEO, it would seem like a losing time for founders. But Yang is an exceptional case; he took his hands off the steering wheel when Yahoo had a mere five employees, and never really ran anything until he stepped in as CEO last June. Most founders of successful startups eagerly seize power, and have to be forcibly dislodged from the driver's seat. The best never let go. Just take a long-term look at the stock market, and you'll see why.

eBay would like you to forget about Skype now

Paul Boutin · 10/15/08 04:20PM

You rarely see a photo of John Donahoe, eBay's Dennis-the-Menace lookalike CEO. But today's a good day to pull him out from under Meg Whitman's shadow. The auction deathstar's Q3 net income was $492.2 million, or 38 cents a share. Much better than last year, when chirpy little upstart Skype — a Whitman acquisition — forgot to destroy AT&T and instead cost the company a billion bucks. (Photo by AP/Ron Edmonds)

Marc Andreessen joins eBay's board, will crush you

Jackson West · 10/01/08 01:00AM

Marc Andreessen has been invited to join the board at eBay. The online auction company has been struggling of late, never mind CEO John Donahoe's assertion that what's bad for the American economy is good for eBay. Andreessen, probably smelling the stink blowing in from the rising tide, stockpiled enough venture capital to last Ning through a "nuclear winter." Proving his acumen at swindling investors if nothing else — and he does know how to keep employees overworked between stints at eager, young startups like Netscape and Ning and layoff-happy AOL. [San Jose Mercury News]

eBay, the "lost cause," is trying to shed StumbleUpon

Nicholas Carlson · 09/19/08 09:20AM

eBay has hired Deutsche Bank to help it sell procrastination tool StumbleUpon after buying it only a little more than a year ago in May 2007. The news follows an analyst's report earlier this week that the company needs to lay off 10 percent of its employees as well as an update from employee-written company reviews site that says eBay CEO John Donahoe carries only a 28 precent approval rating. Eavesdropping on a neighboring train rider yesterday, U.K. blogger Dan Wilson picked up some anecdotal evidence of eBay's internal rot as well.He overheard an eBay executive call the company a "total lost cause." Taken by itself, the conversation, which we've copied below, comes off as just another understandably disappointed in life middle manager griping to a friend. But given the mounting bad news, doesn't train rider's rant comes off a more evidence that eBay is as "fucked" as he says?

Report: eBay should lay off 1,500

Jackson West · 09/15/08 09:20AM

Auction giant eBay may have to cut ten percent of its 15,000-strong workforce if CEO John Donahoe wants to keep his job, research firm Wedge Partners reports. Considering that Donahoe will receive up up to five years pay if he gets canned, we wonder why he'll bother. The good news for the grunts is that cutting payroll probably won't happen until at least after the election, in order for Republican groupie Meg Whitman to save face. (Photo by AP/Douglas C. Pizac)

eBay demolishes "level playing field" for

Owen Thomas · 06/17/08 05:00PM

On eBay, some merchants are now more equal than others. eBay signed up to sell on the site with a special deal: no listing fees, a perk which has allowed to litter the site with junk listings like a single AA battery — an offering that makes no economic sense under the rules that apply to other eBay sellers. That goes against the site's core principle of a "level playing field," reiterated here by founder Pierre Omidyar, in an interview with current CEO John Donahoe, just two months ago.

Tech's 10 worst-rated CEOs, according to their employees

Nicholas Carlson · 06/12/08 10:00AM

Click to viewBenchmark-backed popped out of stealth mode as a site that lets users find out what employees think of their employers. As a part of the ratings, company CEO's get a grade. Some, such as Cisco's John T. Chambers and Apple's Steve Jobs fared very well — coming away with 93 percent and 95 percent approval ratings. Others, including Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, did not. The ten worst-rated CEO's and what employees told Glassdoor they think about them, below.

Your loss is eBay's gain

Jackson West · 04/16/08 08:00PM

In today's quarterly earnings call, when asked how eBay's business would fare in the oncoming recession, CEO John Donahoe remarked that the company is "a place where you can turn assets into cash in seven to fourteen days." Good times are here again! (Photo AP/Douglas C. Pizac)

Everything but auctions boosts eBay's bottom line

Owen Thomas · 04/16/08 04:00PM

Recently anointed eBay CEO John Donahoe thumped his chest over the auction giant's first-quarter earnings. He praised a "diverse portfolio of businesses" as revenues jumped 24 percent to $2.19 billion and earnings rose 22 percent to $459.7 million. The problem: Younger businesses like Skype and PayPal aren't as profitable as eBay's core e-commerce business, which is why profit margins dropped. [WSJ]

Make money faster! eBay may dump ValueClick for its own affiliate program

Owen Thomas · 03/16/08 07:08PM

Under new CEO John Donahoe, eBay is moving to take its affiliate marketing in-house, a tipster tells us. The auction giant could dump ValueClick's Commission Junction, which currently pays website publishers to direct bidders to eBay's stores, for its own eBay Partner Network. The eBay website is already active, with what appears to be a login for beta testers. eBay Partner Network is also the name of a recently formed eBay subsidiary, according to an SEC filing. has long had its own affiliate-marketing subsidiary, which has turned into a venture to provide all kinds of services to startups. By farming out the work, eBay has lost both a cut of its sales and a chance to play in a field that's a fast-growing part of online advertising.

eBay boycott drives listings down 13 percent, accomplishing nothing

Nicholas Carlson · 02/26/08 04:20PM

Sellers angry with new eBay CEO John Donahoe's policies have driven listings down 13 percent since February 18, according to measures taken by researchers. The boycotting sellers are angry about Donahoe's plans to charge them more after each item is sold and highlight listings for merchants with the highest customer-service ratings, while removing sellers' ability to rate buyers. eBay exec Jim Griffith told USA Today internal statistics show the boycott "has had no impact on our listings." Don't expect it to impact eBay policy, either. The new rules are meant to keep lucrative top merchants happy. And since eBay cut listing fees at the same time that it raised sales fees, any effect on the bottom line will be muted.

eBay sellers on fee changes: "DO NOT WANT"

Nicholas Carlson · 01/31/08 12:12PM

eBay plans to reduce the price sellers have to pay to list items and charge them more after each item is sold, new CEO John Donahoe told the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The auction site also plans to discount fees and highlight listings for merchants with the highest customer-service ratings. eBay sellers are angry about both changes. How angry? AuctionBytes told its readers to call in and leave messages expressing their wrath. Here's a clip with the best minute and half of the full nine minutes of ranting. (Photo by Piez)

Nicholas Carlson · 01/30/08 01:32PM

New eBay CEO John Donahoe made his first move today: eBay will reduce the price sellers have to pay to list items for sale on the site and charge them more after each item is sold. Additionally, the auction site will discount fees and highlight listings for merchants with the highest customer-service ratings. [WSJ]

eBay kind of, maybe, finally considering a Skype sale

Nicholas Carlson · 01/30/08 12:47PM

Asked whether eBay would sell PayPal or Skype, new eBay CEO John Donahoe denied any chance of a PayPal sale but said the company planned to "test the synergies" resulting from the Skype integration. The questioner, Fortune's Adam Lashinsky, later told SAI that Donahoe's answer meant he would give Skype a year "to show synergies with eBay" before selling it. Odds are it'll happen. In October, eBay took a $1.4 billion asset-impairment charge on the company it purchased for $2.5 billion in 2005.

Is John Donahoe worth $25 million?

Owen Thomas · 01/29/08 05:50PM

eBay's new CEO, John Donahoe, got a hefty payoff just for taking the job. Docu-Drama reports that his total take comes to $25 million, including a $15 million "promotion bonus" in the form of options and restricted stock. Then there's outgoing CEO Meg Whitman, who made a half-billion dollars in stock sales over her tenure, including $100 million in the past 5 months. Whitman gets free office space and secretarial services, and as a special advisor, she stays on the payroll — which means her options will continue to vest. Handy, considering so many of them are underwater.

New eBay CEO: Search first step to fixing eBay

Nicholas Carlson · 01/25/08 12:34PM

Whitman's out and the new guy in charge, John Donahoe, says step one to fixing eBay is fixing its internal search engine. "Our buyers tell us that we know you have unmatched selection, but we can't always find what we want," Donahoe told Bits. Unable to find what they want to buy using eBay's search, Donahoe's theory goes, these users go to Google instead. What Donahoe doesn't mention: eBay has been talking about improving its search for years.

Next eBay CEO chosen by process of elimination

Nicholas Carlson · 01/23/08 12:47PM

eBay CEO Meg Whitman could announce plans to retire as soon as today's earnings call. The most likely candidate to replace her? Consensus suggests auctions chief John Donahoe. But how'd that happen? A quick look at other viable contenders shows Donahoe's candidacy owes much to the process of elimination. Here's how the discarded contenders stack up.

Exit Meg Whitman

Owen Thomas · 01/22/08 01:15AM

At last, eBay CEO Meg Whitman is preparing to leave, the Wall Street Journal reports. It's about time, and even Whitman would agree, having said that no one should stay CEO of a company for more than 10 years. That deadline comes in March, and Tuesday's earnings call are as good a time to tell shareholders as any. Her likely replacement, John Donahoe, won't be much of a change: If he is tapped as CEO, power will be ceremoniously transferred one ex-management consultant to another. Is it any wonder eBay is bleeding risktakers and creative talent?

Meg Whitman watches Amazon pass eBay over the holidays

Nicholas Carlson · 01/15/08 04:00PM

For the first holiday season ever, more Americans visited than eBay last December, the New York Times reports, citing numbers from Nielsen. eBay still trumped Amazon in time spent, or "engagement," and total pageviews — all of that auction-watching, you know. And it's important to remember that traffic without transactions doesn't do either site any good. But the news can't be a comfort the eBay CEO Meg Whitman, here pictured with Mitt Romney (far left) and some guy.