Ex-eBay VP Bob Kupbens Comes Full Circle As Interim CEO Of StubHub International

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


Bob Kupbens is the new interim CEO at StubHub International in a full circle moment harkening back to his time at eBay as VP Seller Marketplace and Operations.

He announced his new role on LinkedIn yesterday, replacing Dan Mucha, who has moved on to the CEO position at World of Books Group.

Kupbens led eBay's seller marketplace operations from 2016-2019, with CEO Devin Wenig at the helm, departing shortly after activist investor Elliott Management took a stake in the company and published their "Enhancing eBay Plan", which included, among other things, pressure to sell off StubHub and Classifieds to focus back on the core marketplace and calling out "history of misexecution."

The references to misexecution were largely aimed at Wenig, but they certainly also applied to other members of the executive leadership team, and clearly Elliott was not impressed by how the core marketplace was being managed at the time either.

The clash over StubHub and other points in the Enhancing eBay Plan were initially presented as the reasons behind Wenig's departure from the company in September 2019...but that was before news of the cyberstalking and harassment of journalists Ina and David Steiner of EcommerceBytes by eBay security personnel came to light.

Elliott Management was ultimately successful in their efforts and StubHub was eventually sold to Viagogo for $4.05 Billion in February 2020.

eBay Completes Sale of StubHub
We have completed the sale of StubHub to viagogo for $4.05 billion in cash.

Many longtime eBay sellers will be familiar with Kupbens, as his LinkedIn bio says he was "recruited to transform eBay’s Seller experience at a critical time of increasing seller dissatisfaction and attrition" and claims that he "achieved significant GMV and Revenue growth through an improved, seller-centric experience; new marketplace programs and global platform product innovations."

However, some of those same sellers may have slightly different recollections or definitions of how seller-centric the experience was and whether it was "transformed " for the better during his time at the company.

For example, an eBay community discussion about a Q&A event with Kupbens provides some illumination on what sellers thought of the experience and "seller-engagement" efforts in 2018.

Re: RE: Questions for Bob Kupbens
wrote: Hi The entry period to submit questions closed today - so we haven’t had two weeks of lead time. Hi Alan, The earliest questions were submitted back on June 13th. I was referring to the fact that by the day of the broadcast, on the 27th, you’ll have had them for up to two weeks, depe…

We genuinely want this to be an ongoing thing, a two-way street, not a post-and-run exercise. For example, Bob's post "2017 Retrospective - Looking Back While Continuing to Move Forward" (here), generated at least 89 comments (or possibly more; one of the comments states that about 50 others, presumably hostile, appeared to have been removed). Bob posted a couple of short acknowledgements about five days later, but left it to others to have an actual dialogue with eBay users.

That's really not engagement at the executive level. If you're going to make a change that will ultimately affect millions of users, it's really helpful if someone stands up and says, in effect, "This is my idea; this is why I think it's an improvement, and this is the problem that I believe it solves." If no one can get through those three points up front, and defend them in actual dialogue with their user base, then maybe that's not a project that's worth pursuing.

Interestingly, all of the links to posts by or discussions with Kupbens that once resided in the eBay community have been taken private and removed from public viewing.

Does Kupbens have what it takes to lead StubHub through its current transition? Let us know what you think 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!

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