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

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