eBay CEO Jamie Iannone Debuts "Accidental Entrepreneur" Video Series on LinkedIn

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


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eBay CEO Jamie Iannone is launching a video series on LinkedIn called The Accidental Entrepreneur: Lessons in Success featuring inspirational interviews with eBay small business owners and other business leaders.

The debut episode includes Afterpay co-founder Nick Molnar discussing how he took his families jewelry business online by selling on eBay during his college years.

Today I’m excited to share eBay’s new video series for LinkedIn, "The Accidental Entrepreneur: Lessons in Success." In these conversations, I'll be chatting with eBay small business owners and other business leaders — many of whom started their journeys right here on eBay.

Our first episode features Nick Molnar, the co-founder of FinTech giant Afterpay. Before becoming Australia’s youngest billionaire, Nick was one of eBay's top jewelry sellers. In this segment, Nick shares his incredible story, and the entrepreneurial lessons learned on eBay that he’s carried with him throughout his career.

Our discussion focuses on the value of being customer-centric, the importance of taking smart risks, and why you should always listen to your mother.

Watch the full video here, and stay tuned for more lessons from other amazing entrepreneurs and inspiring eBay sellers and alumni!

Iannone latched on to the "accidental entrepreneur" buzzword in 2021 to reference small business sellers on the platform, trotted it out at opportune moments like when making the media rounds at earnings time or touting eBay's sustainability efforts to distract from a recent EPA lawsuit against the company.

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Sellers have criticized Iannone in the past for only engaging on LinkedIn, which is geared more toward corporate professionals, rather than Facebook, Instagram, Twitter any other social media where a wider variety of sellers may participate.

Many smaller sellers in particular have also been critical of Jamie's "high value, vertical focus, enthusiast buyer" strategy, calling it exclusionary to sellers who don't deal in sneakers, streetwear, designer handbags, luxury watches and jewelry, and trading cards.

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After a mass layoff impacting ~1,000 employees was announced last month, where Iannone doubled down and stated his steadfast commitment to the current strategy that he says is working, some sellers took to the eBay community to express their thoughts on the need for a different strategy and/or new leadership for the platform.

eBay used to be the site, and now it’s not
who do you blame? management? Yup, that’s right. Fire them.

who do you blame? management? Yup, that's right. Fire them.

eBay management is totally responsible for the current state of eBay and all of their moves seem to indicate they have thrown in the towel.

I'm 99% certain the eBay help chat has no real people at all anymore. Even if it says you are connected to an agent, they are now chatbots. The exchange I just had demonstrated a level of stupidity that could not have been generated by a human. I frustrated it to the point it disconnected the chat.

I think one of the worst decisions ebay ever made was simply to ignore sellers. Management should have been working closely with the top sellers in every category and asking those sellers what they need from ebay to help grow their business and then actually implementing changes that would help.

This would have helped ebays overall growth. Instead ebay choose to push new policy down sellers throats and continue to find ways to skim more off each transaction. And they still haven't figured out that Sellers know what they need and ebay is still ignoring them.

Nobody disputes that this place has been badly managed - though a lot of this is 20/20 hindsight - the worst decision being trying to take on Amazon...instead of developing eBay as a distinct entity.

But even if they had gone this route, there is absolutely no guarantee that other, younger, more agile sites wouldn't have been taking chunks out in competition by now, anyway. eBay trying to be all things to all people in its way might have as much focus creep as trying to ape Amazon.

However, someone other than a Bain drone like Donohue would have done a better job overall, I think. At least Jamie is trying to turn the ship around, though I'm not sure that going in an asset-heavy direction (again) is a great idea.

Recent changes to buyer and seller feedback have raised seller concerns that eBay is moving more toward an Amazon-style feedback and review system.

Could a new open job position for a Lead Product Manager Feedback and Trust with a specific focus on experience in creating products for small businesses mean eBay is actually listening and working to make sure the voices and needs of smaller sellers on the platform are included?

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We've long advocated for Iannone and other executives to treat eBay's small business sellers as more than props for media appearances and lobbying efforts, calling out the need for open, honest good faith conversations with a wide variety of sellers to address critical, business impacting issues on the platform.

Unfortunately, the slick production values and carefully curated questions and responses of this new video series show once again the focus is on PR, not authenticate seller engagement.

Is there a successful small business owner or famous business leader you'd like to see Jamie interview? Let us know in the comments below!

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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!