Moving on, Leaving eBay

I wrote this post last Saturday, but as the financial results for Q2 for Geeknet were only announced today, I decided to wait with public posting until after these were announced.

Restless sleep, early wake ups and nervous moments. The last week was a tough one! Last Friday, after 9+ years, was my last day at eBay. Leaving a company where you worked for so long, feel like ending a long term relationship. And when the job was your first one fresh out of university, it feels like loosing your very first love…. But yes, it was my last day, and when I walked out of the office at Hamilton Ave in San Jose at 5.30pm, I felt empty and exhausted. When I got home, I crashed and slept from 8pm until 8am, 12 hours straight. I guess I had some recovery sleep to do after the 3 hours nights of the last couple of days!

The years I’ve spent at eBay have formed me in the way I work. Obviously my parents had more influence on my character, but 9 years with the same company will have a profound impact on your ways of working. I’ve been blessed to spent my first decade in the workforce with a great company like eBay. The internal values and behaviors the founder, Pierre Omidyar has set up in the early beginning make for a good work ethos. I will carry these values with me for the rest of my life.

I love eBay! The decision to leave such a great company, efficient business model, talented colleagues, endless amount of data and cutting edge technology was a hard one. But sometimes you have to cut the cord to move forward and grow into the new stages in life you have set out for yourself. But there is no doubt that I will miss every part of my former job!

My favorite highlights…

There are so many highlights, too many to list. Here are some of my favorite highlights of my 9 years at eBay

-          All in one year: meeting Fiona, moving from Amsterdam to San Francisco for a new job within eBay, getting married AND having my daughter, Bo-Jools born. Lesson learned: Moving fast will make for a SMART business model, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relative & Timely

-          Marketing college in San Jose, meeting David Knight, who brought me over to the US one year later. Lesson learned: Network! David is still a close friend of mine!

-          Organizing the ever growing IM summits in Tallinn Estonia (75 attendees), Dublin Ireland (150 attendees) and Prague Czech Republic (250 attendees), without any casualties or missing persons. Lesson learned: Don’t leave a man on the field, you leave the bar last if you’re responsible!

-          eBay Live in Las Vegas, Boston & Chicago. Lesson learned: the real value of eBay is in its community of buyers & sellers

-          Working on the Pietersberg Strategy, “How to beat Marktplaats”, which resulted in the acquisition of the leading Dutch classifieds site for $300M. Lesson learned: if you can’t beat them, buy them. Marktplaats is currently the biggest and most successful classifieds site in eBay's portfolio.

-          Bringing SEO back on the radar with Executive team and the whole company, after falling off. Lesson learned: read the book, The Dip, when to quit and when to stick

-          Representing eBay at 7 SEO conferences, eBay DevCon & Paypal X as a speaker. Lesson learned: Building your external brand accelerates your market value.

-          Hosting the Dutch Ambassador at the eBay campus with a welcome from John Donahue Lesson learned: don’t get intimidated

-          Submitting my first patent: “Method for Automatic Document generation based on Referral”. Lesson learned: you don’t have to be work in technology to file patents.

-             Traveling to 14 countries, on 5 continents. Lesson learned: pack light so you take all as carry on luggage

  • France, Germany, Belgium, UK, Sweden, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Estonia, China, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic
  • Europe, North- & South America, Asia & Australia

-          The Usual… For those in the known, there is a lesson here as well…

Picture below is the team I worked with: eBay SEO team 2011

Where I’m going

In my search for a next challenge and opportunity, I decided to be on the look out for a smaller company with a large opportunity.  After 9 years at a large company, with all the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with it, I want to experience a different working environment, different challenges and new opportunities to grow and stretch myself. I found this in a 17 year old company, listed on the Nasdaq: Geeknet Inc.

Although not a startup, the company has big potential and advantages. Balance sheet very healthy, no debt and cash in the bank, a couple of old, focused internet brands, brand new executive team with big plans, and reasonable stock price, where the company did a reverse stock split last year.

As of August 1st, I will be joining Geeknet Inc. as Vice President of Internet Marketing Media. The Media group at Geeknet manages the websites Slashdot, Sourceforge and Freshmeat.

I’m very excited to start working with these websites. Especially Slashdot, as this is one of the old phenomenon websites out of the dotcom bubble age. Who doesn’t know the Slashdot effect…? If you don’t, you probably are not Geeky enough.. J. Before there was Digg, before there was Techmeme, there was, and still is: Slashdot; News for Nerds, Stuff that matters!

But also starting to understand, appreciate and use open source software in my own projects, makes this opportunity super exciting for me. I feel this is a new chapter in my life, in which I will learn so much new stuff. Over the last 2 years, with the TFNS Strategy and platform development and working on my own websites, my interest has grown into the field of open source software and application development.

In this position, I will be using the skills and learning’s from my tenure at eBay. I will focus on SEO, Social Media and email as free traffic drivers for the three sites, and I will conduct paid advertising as Paid search ads or deep partner relationships with other relevant websites.

Thank you!

I’m very thankful for what I’ve learned, the opportunities I’ve been given and more importantly, the people I’ve had the pleasure working with. You ALL ROCK!I'm sure I will miss a lot of eBay, but most I will miss is working with the great colleagues and friends I've made over the years!


Bottle of Chandon autographed by Meg Whitman

Buy Your Ugly Christmas Sweater on eBay!

Back in 2009 I wrote a post on the phenomenon Ugly Christmas Sweater on eBay. Around the holiday season, there are so many Ugly Christmas Sweater parties, that people flock to eBay to buy one. (if you want to buy an Ugly Christmas Sweater for the cheap, buy it off season, buy it now!)

I made it my mission back in 2009 to improve the rankings for eBay on Ugly Christmas Sweater, as there is a lot of money to be made selling these sweaters. Off course there might be more lucrative products to promote, but sometimes I just like to focus on one particular keyword or product to push the boundaries.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Campaign

During the year, I presented my findings, data and insights on industry conferences. When the Christmas season of 2010 was approaching, I started to pitch the story to the eBay PR team. At first, they had no interest, as the Ugly Christmas Sweater is not a really sexy product to talk about with main stream publications. However, when I showed the increase in number of searches on the site over the days running up to Christmas, suddenly we had a story.

Ugly Christmas Sweater banner

There were two main drivers in the campaign:

  1. We worked on a story: “How to sell your Ugly Holiday Sweater on eBay” which was posted by Fattwallet.
  2. We worked on a story around the internal eBay data. Search volume, number of sold sweaters and the value of these Ugly Christmas Sweaters. This story was pitched to mainstream journalist.

Story Pick-Up

The campaign was reasonable successful, as we got good pick up from a number of people who heard me speak about the yearly trend, and linked to the search page on eBay for Ugly Christmas Sweater. The blog post on Fattwallet had a clean link to this same search page, which obviously helped in the success.

The PR push was less successful. The Wall Street Journal ran a story regarding the Ugly Christmas Sweater parties and the rise in the demand for Ugly Sweaters. This sounds great, however, the WSJ linked within their story to their own eBay Tag page, showing how Black Hole SEO is done*! (I purposely don’t link to the WSJ here!). Instead, after providing the Christmas Sweater story, data and insights to the journalist, they ran with it, while linking to some mom- and pop site, but not to eBay.

Selling more Ugly Christmas Sweaters than ever

Christmas 2010 season, the Ugly Christmas Sweater was one hot item on eBay! Although the search volume on the site for the keyword: “Ugly Christmas Sweater” was lower than the year before (see graph below), there were actually more sweaters sold than ever!

Ugly Christmas Sweater searches on eBay

Moving up in Rankings

Months later, I just casually checked the rankings for Ugly Christmas Sweater, and guess what… our campaign has helped the eBay page to move up in rankings. On my SERP, the page was positioned at #2 :)

SERP for Ugly Christmas Sweater, eBay ranks #2

The red box shows the organic ranking for eBay page, the green boxes give the Google Product search and the Paid Product Ad listings for Ugly Christmas Sweaters on eBay.

Christmas 2011 Season

For the next Christmas Sweater season, organize a Sweater party yourself and remember, go to eBay to buy your Ugly Christmas Sweater!

* I wrote a post on how Engadget is doing black hole SEO as well…

Dune Buggy for Sale with Sexy Model

How do you sell a Volkswagen Dune Buggy? Right, you place a model in a short skirt in the pictures of the Buggy!

Volkswagen Dune Buggy

Very creative, but if you really would like to sell this Dune Buggy Safari Trail style, they might just lower the price and I consider buying it!

Some sellers get so creative…and Sex seems to sell, even with a Dune Buggy


Labor day 15 Years Ago, Who is Working

Labor day 2010. I would really like to spend some time off, but I like to stay ahead and finish some red hot stuff on my to do list. Too bad I will have to watch the kids for a couple of hours, but after that, it’s all free game! Labor day, for the majority of people a free day, where they sit back and sip on a drink, while the grill is made ready for all the meat you can eat. For some, Labor Day is just another day to get things done, and while you are cranking out stuff in an empty office, where the air conditioner is not working because it’s a freak’n bank holiday, you can just imagine how much work you can get done.

I just had one meeting planned, and emptied the majority of my email inbox which was overflowing. Now that everybody just went to bed, I can really focus on getting things done, transferring 2 domain names to my account, doing some advanced keyword research, forecasting for Q4, the shopping season, and for 2011. most importantly, I will need to plan my next two weeks, as I’m travelling as of next Friday, back to visit Shanghai again :)

While I was at it this afternoon, I could not resist to send out a tweet:

if it's labor day, so why isn't everybody working like me...? Have a meeting in Mountain View this afternoon!

And apparently I was not the only one working at Labor Day, as I have seen some interesting reads popping into my feed reader and some folks actually took the opportunity to let me know on Twitter I was not the only one, thanks Vanessa & John.

@TheNextCorner - you and me both! (tweet)

@TheNextCorner started early over here, too. And going late. (tweet)

At least I’m in good company, as Greg Boser is:

Working my ass off on Labor Day. WTF? (tweet)

15 Years Ago, Something Magical Started in the Mind of a Programmer

On Labor Day 1995 eBay was started from the living room of a computer programmer. Pierre Omidyar had a vision that the Internet could give ordinary people the tools to trade on a level playing field. eBay was his brain child, where everybody can trade, and inefficient markets are made efficient. So much, people are running their business off eBay, and turning a profit by selling iPads from  the US to all over the world.

From the eBay corporate website:

On Labor Day weekend in 1995, computer programmer Pierre Omidyar wrote the code for what he called an "experiment": What would happen if everyone in the world had equal access to a single global marketplace?

Pierre tested his new auction website by posting a broken laser pointer, which he was about to throw away. And to his surprise, a collector bought it for $14.83. The sale of a broken laser pointer was the beginning of a radical transformation in commerce.

eBay is a remarkably efficient market created by connecting individuals who wouldn't otherwise be connected. It was the world's first example of online social networking. While skeptics questioned whether people would trust doing business with strangers online, Pierre firmly believed that people are basically good, and that any issues would work themselves out by the community.

Since then, eBay has grown to have a presence in 39 markets (including partnerships and investments) with more than 90 million eBay.com users worldwide, trading more than $1,900 worth of goods each second.

For all my professional life I’ve been working at eBay, which is now 8.5 years and counting. The company has been extremely good for me, giving me opportunities to learn, travel, grow and educate. I’ve worked in The Netherlands office first, while after 3.5 years I moved to the US. Now I work in a global role, having a big impact on a web phenomenon which is called eBay.

Pictures below of celebrating 15 years of eBay last week at the San Jose campus. I can’t wait for the pictures from the Amsterdam office, which most probably won’t be shared online… for good reasons!

eBay 15 years old celebrationeBay 15 years, happy birthday here are some cupcakesWhatever it is, you can find IT on eBay

Labor Day; A Day to get Busy and get Ahead

So if you take Aaron Wall’s words, Pierre took full advantage of the fact a lot of people are actually celebrating Labor Day workers on a day in September by doing nothing; from Aaron:

When you think of labor day what comes to mind? For me it is these 2 thoughts

  • lower earnings because few people are online today
  • since almost nobody is online, any hours worked today are me getting ahead of the market ;)

So the questions are:

  • What did you do today?
  • Did you focus to get ahead?
  • Who of your competitors were working?
  • And what did they get done, while you were grilling hot dogs?

Great question to ask yourself: Why do you work? Or you can ask yourself, why work…???

eMeg Jerry Brown Infringes on eBay Brand

The campaigns around the elections for governor in California are getting more aggressive the closer we get to the date. Radio commercials are just calling the other parties on their plans or no plans, and banner campaigns are getting more ugly in their message.

I just ran into the banner below, where Meg Whitman is confronted with her 10 years she worked at eBay. It’s creative, almost funny, but a clear infringement on the eBay brand.

emeg-jerry-brown-campaign-vs-meg-whitman

Update: Right after I published the post here, there are relevant ads on my site for the campaign against Meg Whitman:

Brand Infringement by Jerry Brown campaign

Disclaimer: I don’t have any political opinion when it comes to the elections for governor as I cannot vote in the state of California, nor for the general elections in the USA.

Infographic: iPad exports from US

For the last couple of weeks I have been working on a story around the iPad exports through sales on eBay.com.  With the story picked up by The New York Times and Gizmodo. I sent the following post to my buddies of The Next Web as a guest post. In the past i've done some guest posts before, but never for a large tech blog like TheNextWeb.com.

With Apple selling more that 1 million iPads just in the US, we were wondering how many have been sold on the global eBay marketplace to buyers not located in the US. Essentially we are talking about free market forces that are at work, determining the price of an iPad on the global marketplace through matching demand and supply.

Currently, there are a large number of iPads for sale: iPad 16GB, iPad 32GB and the iPad 64GB

iPad-Exports-first-two-weeks

The World is Flat

Of all the iPads sold in the first two weeks on eBay, the majority went to buyers outside of the US. Just 35% of the iPads sold on eBay in the first two weeks, were sold domestically. The low percentage of domestic sales probably has got to do with the fact Apple did a great job keeping all the stores fully stocked. There have not been widely reported shortages for iPads across the US. In the past, any shortages in products have always been a reason of increased sales on eBay of the product!

The Brits imported the most iPads, where 550 iPads were imported. Of the top 20 importers of iPads, the small city state of Singapore imported 77 iPads in the first two weeks.

Premiums Paid for iPad

From the data, we can see who is more prepared to pull their wallet to buy an iPad.

Buyers from the United Arab Emirates were prepared to buy the 64GB iPad model at a premium of more than $500 over the normal retail price.

The announcement of the delay in International Launch of the iPad had a shock effect on the demand on the iPads sold on the US eBay website. Number of iPads sold to International countries jumped. The price for an iPad on  April 14th skyrocketed for buyers outside of the US.

Some of the commenter's on Gizmodo actually did sell some iPads internationally at a profit:

Secretpizzaparty:

Picked up two 64 GB ipads at launch, flipped one on UK e-bay immediately (only 2 other ipads were for sale on .co.uk at the time).
I wound up making $100 and a free ipad ($1500)... timing is everything

SuprXY

Sold mine to someone in Spain and made enough profit to upgrade from the 16gb to the 32gb 3G model. Gotta love the ebay

International launch of the iPad

For the International launch of the iPad, we will be keeping a close eye on the numbers. What the data from the first two weeks tells us, is that the iPad is going to be a big success in the European countries.

By that time, we will keep you posted with an update to these numbers.

Update: AppAdvice has  a great overview on the International prices for the ipad at launch.

Dennis Goedegebuure is Senior Manager Internet Marketing & SEO at eBay inc. You can follow him at: TheNextCorner.net or on Twitter @TheNextCorner. You can buy your iPad on eBay through: iPad.eBay.com/

iPads currently for sale on eBay

iPad Search Explosion on eBay

After having played with the iPad myself, after I got one as a present from my wife, I’m totally hooked. What an awesome machine. It appears there are more people around the world who want to play with the newest gadget toy, as Edible Apple is reporting. Read more on Techmeme here. People from around the world are bidding on iPads on the US eBay site. 

The iPad is the latest and greatest from Apple, and for the time being, it’s only available in the US. But come on, folks, the international iPad rollout is just a few weeks away. So why in the world are some people paying as much as $5,000 to have an iPad shipped to their corner of the world? One customer from the U.K reportedly spent $5,500 for a spankin’ new iPad.

This triggered me to look at the number of searches placed on eBay.com for the keyword “iPad”. Obviously you can see three important surges of search traffic of people looking for the product:

  1. Apple’s announcement of the iPad January 27
  2. Apple’s announcement of the launch date of the iPad March 12
  3. The actual day the Apple iPad went on sale in the Apple stores April 3

image

In the marketplace economic theory, Demand and Supply will always be equal in the perfect marketplace. However, as the iPad is not available yet in other countries but the US, the demand for the item oversees pushes the price up on the US based iPad marketplace.

From Wikipedia:

Supply and demand are always equal as they are the two sides of the same set of transactions, and discussions of "imbalances" are a muddled and indirect way of referring to price. However, in an unmeasurable qualitative sense, demand for an item (such as goods or services) refers to the market pressure from people trying to buy it. They will "bid" money for the item, while sellers offer the item for money. When the bid matches the offer, a transaction can easily occur.

Makes perfect sense right…

image

So get your Apple iPad from your local Apple store right now, and list the item on eBay for shipping worldwide, and capitalize on the opportunity. You can list 8 iPads per week! (Announcements).

eBay Classifieds re-launched

The other day, when I arrived with my bicycle at work, I saw there was a sign added to the eBay logo. The US Classifieds site re-launched. I stopped, grabbed my camera, and took some cool shots of the sign. As you can see, the weather was beautiful, but there was still dew on the eBay letters.

blogs-pics1

blogs-pics2

That Ugly Christmas Sweater Makes You look Sexy…


“That Ugly Christmas Sweater makes you look Sexy…”

Christmas hatWith Christmas coming up closer, you might find yourself without that Ugly Christmas Sweater you need to wear to the Ugly Christmas Sweater party your friends are organizing. And although you hate the theme of the party, who would like to wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater anyway, you don’t want to stand out in that designer shirt and hipster suit when everybody is wearing the most ugly sweater they could find for Christmas!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Every year you hear about the Ugly Christmas Sweater parties. How would you organize an ugly sweater party? First; make a funny invitation with you wearing the most hideous Christmas sweater you can find. Second; you have to make sure all your guests will know where to buy an ugly Christmas Sweater to wear at your party. Third; make sure you have your camera ready to shoot all your guest wearing their outrageous dog scaring Christmas sweaters.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

You will have a blast doing all of this!

And where can you buy your Ugly Christmas Sweater better than eBay. There is a broad selection of sweaters available right now. And it seems that the sellers have seen the increase in demand just recently, as there are more and more Ugly Xmas Sweaters coming online. The Ugly Christmas Sweater keyword is even almost as big as Christmas itself in terms of searches on the site:

Ugly Christmas Sweater

Would you look good in that Ugly Christmas Sweater? Just repeat after me:

“You look good in that outfit, that Ugly Christmas Sweater makes you look SEXY…”

Images attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramseymohsen/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Canon 5200mm F14 SLR DSLR lens

Sometimes, you come across those rare items on eBay, items you just have to share with more people. Today I was forwarded the following Canon lens for sale:

Canon 5200mm F14 SLR DSLR Lens

World's MOST powerful Telephoto Prime Lens

Can you imagine going to take some wild life pictures with this puppy on your camera. I guess you would have to save up for a new and bigger camera bag! I HAVE been saving for a bigger and more powerful lens, but I guess I need to rely on Santa to fulfill this whish! Xmas is just around the corner, so who knows…

image

The auction reads:

This is a very rare Canon 5200mm photographic lens. THE largest & most powerful prime lens ever created for dedicated SLR photographic use.  Made in Japan. It is my understanding that a customized SLR/DSLR/EF mount can be created/included by the team of optical engineers who presently look after the lens. Due to its large size, it may be better suited to astronomy applications & others... It takes two strong people to lift the lens. It could also be mounted on a customized truck or SUV. A large geared or motorized support head would be needed to get the most out it. The magnification of this lens is truly staggering. If mounted to a Canon HD XL series video camera for example, a reach of 1000x optical (at least) would be possible (approx 37,500mm). The lens could also be mounted to HD & cine cameras. Manual focus & drop-in filters can be used. With so few ever built Canon spent a tonne on the R&D, not to mention the manufacturer of this lens. The Canon factory picture shows the lens mounted to an SLR camera (circled in red) – this will further give you an idea of its size. As the lens is so rare & so unique, it's fair to say that it's a collectors item & attraction in itself. For Canon collectors & owners of the Canon EF 1200mm F5.6 lens - quite simply your Canon collection is incomplete with out it.

The specific stats for the lens are:

  • Focal Length: 5150mm
  • Exposure Control: Light quantity is controlled with the use of built-in ND filters, corresponding to f/14, f/16, f/22, f/32
  • Minimum Object Distance: 120 meters (Approx 393 feet!)
  • Size: 500mm(wide) x 600mm(high) x 1890mm(deep) [20”x24”x75.6”]
  • Weight: 100kg (220 lbs) without stand.
  •  

    The difference between a 50mm lens and this animal of 5200mm is striking!

    image

    You would probably need the stand as displayed in the picture above to hold the lens straight.

    Fun stuff…