eBay has lost another longtime technical leader as VP Engineering Seller Experience Scot Hamilton quietly departed the company last month to take a role at Amazon tackling last mile delivery as Vice President Planning and Routing Technology.
Scot's 17 year tenure at eBay was impressive, including leading engineering overhauls of eBay's Merchant Integration Platform and APIs, efforts to transform eBay's ad network from primarily 3rd party ads directing away from the site to 1st party ads on the site, and responsibility for the entire stack of eBay’s suite of seller tools enabling listing inventory, fulfilling orders, marketing, advertising, and analytics.
Earlier this year eBay lost Scot's counterpart on the buyer side of the platform, VP Buyer Experience Mohan Patt, to Meta/Facebook. Mohan had also been a long time eBayer with over 16 years at the company.
Between Scot and Mohan, that's a huge amount of institutional product knowledge and experience on both the seller and buyer sides of the marketplace that's walked out the door in recent months.
Chief Product Officer Pete Thompson also left eBay back in April.
What does this loss of leadership mean for CEO Jamie Iannone's tech-led reimagination of the platform?
Ex-CEO Devin Wenig infamously said at eBay Open 2018 that technical glitches are unacceptable and really pissed him off.
Interestingly, eBay has since blocked that YouTube video from being embedded or shared on other sites, but you can still watch it here.
There've been a lot of site glitches recently on eBay. What are you guys doing to get rid of them?
Here's the simply answer - unacceptable, unacceptable. And we're making a lot of changes. When you make changes there are times that things happen but that's not an excuse and it's not ok with me and this summer in particular there have been a number of issues that directly impacted sellers like people not being able to see their view counts and a few other things and it's just not ok.
I'm extremely proud of a lot of things we've done, I'm not proud of that and in fact I hold my team accountable and it's not important, it's an internal matter but, we made changes to people and teams because shipping product that isn't ready is not ok. It's not ok with me and it's not ok with my team.
So the short answer is it's not like we don't get it. We are making a lot of changes and I want to make those changes, we need to make those changes, but making changes and then having to back up and fix things is not cool and I totally get it. Most of the issues from this summer have now been remedied but I was pissed off.
Then Chief Infrastructure and Architecture Officer Mazen Rawashdeh somehow managed to escape the wrath of a "pissed off" Wenig and was actually promoted in 2019 to Chief Technology Officer, a role he maintains today.
However, apparently the ex-CEO's anger wasn't enough to drive the change that eBay really needed and so far, the current CEO's warmer corporate buzzword strategy of a magical multi-year journey of tech-led reimagination doesn't appear to be fairing much better.
I've been a seller on eBay in one capacity or another for over 15 years and can honestly say the current technical state of the platform is the worst I think I've ever seen it.
The most basic parts of the site that should be rock solid for a 27 year old tech company, like logging in, searching, listing items for sale, messaging and completing checkout have experienced multiple sitewide breakdowns just in recent months.
As for the glitch Wenig called out specifically in his rant - sellers not being able to see their view counts - guess what? That's still happening too. 🤦♀️
What's really going on at eBay and what are CTO Mazen Rawashdeh and new Chief Product Officer Eddie Garcia doing about it?
High level 17 year veterans of the company jumping ship to competing marketplaces should be raising giant red flags and sounding alarms for the C-suite and Board of Directors.
Pro tip for Jamie Iannone: instead of dumping money into more "flavor of the month" acquisitions of new shiny things like NFTs and trading cards, maybe it's time to finally get serious about fixing decades of failing technical infrastructure and mis-execution...whatever it takes.