Major management shake-up at eBay/PayPal/Skype

A couple of weeks ago there was a rather lengthy interview in the FT with Meg Whitman. Among the interesting portions were some comments about monetizing Skype:

“If you have the largest ecosystem, then you will be the one who will actually figure out the long-term monetization model. “

I don’t necessarily agree with this statement given that Paypal is an abject lesson in how a disruptor can derail your best laid plans. You will recall that Ebay attempted to compete with Paypal before finally giving up and acquiring them. Ebay may indeed have grand ambitions for communications within their ecosystem, but if they do they have been pretty tight lipped about providing insight on them, or better yet, coming out with products/services that demonstrate it.

Lastly, Whitman made this comment:

“I think at the moment I am a big believer in focus. I think companies can only do a small number of things well. Over the past 50 years in the popular business press it’s been, you know, double down on the things you do well, find your core strengths, build on your core strengths. Anything that’s not core, it’s context and get rid of it or outsource it.”

Obviously, Meg Whitman is a remarkable and steady leader, and the above is very sound advice but I have to wonder though if the “core” that she refers to above isn’t in fact a lot broader than she is willing to acknowledge. It could be really simple as in Ebay brings together buyers and sellers and controls the transaction between the two of them, or it could be more complex in that they also own the protocols between buyers and sellers, reputation systems, financial mechanics, marketing automation, customer relationship management for sellers, logistics support, and lastly, product information systems. If this is the core then the context is about increasing the utility of buy-to-seller relationships in order to derive greater financial benefit from it, and more abstractly, provide an open marketplace where the aforementioned utility results in some positive lifestyle benefit for members.

If Whitman believes that walling off the network is the means to enhancing core, then she is in fact sacrificing context in the process and doing long term harm to the company by enabling conditions to develop whereby a “death from below” competitor will emerge and grow.

TechCrunch » Blog Archive » Major management shake-up at eBay/PayPal/Skype:

The much anticipated Skype integration into eBay just a few weeks ago turned out to be very unexciting. Is an an increasinlgy walled garden the future of eBay/PayPal and Skype? eBay stocks took a dive today on the announcement; such a strategy could really backfire.

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Reality TV comes to the blogosphere

Look at Techmeme yesterday or this morning? Seems like everyone, almost literally, was writing about Amanda Congdon leaving Rocketboom, and the back and forth between her and Andrew Baron. If this were a company I was an investor in, or considering an investment in the individuals in any future endeavor, I would be horrified. There is something very undignified about airing one’s laundry in public like this, and furthermore it reflects a downside to the magnification factor that the blogosphere can exaggerate in grotesque fashion. Needless to say, seeing all this unfold just didn’t do anything positive for me and if there were bad actors in this drama, I didn’t need to know. BTW, I am not the only one to notice this.

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When Your Customers Take Over: The Dream Buick Lineup

This is interesting, the folks at GMInsideNews created their own “product revitalization roadmap” for General Motors. At first blush this looks like nothing more than armchair quarterbacking, but reading the original post and associated replies reveals a group of people with deep knowledge of GM components, manufacturing, price points, and market segmentation. My first thought was that GM should hire these people to replace their existing product management team, but then I realized that that there is not quicker way to demotivate someone like this than putting them into “the machine”. GM should instead use this to create a sense of competition among their in-house product teams and the external community to see who could out perform the other, but only if GM has the courage and motivation to actually follow through on the roadmap.

GMI Feature: Revitalization in Action; The Dream Buick Lineup – GMInsideNews Forums:

Welcome to a new Feature here at GMI; Revitalization In Action. Planned as a series of dream lineups possible for each of GM’s brands, the first in this series, Revitalization in Action; The Dream Buick Lineup, has been a long time in the making, a collaboration of GMI Staff Member ChevroletRevived and GMI Chopper Fbodyrules. Our mission? To show, with a realistic feasibility factor, the great and focused lineups possible for each GM brand in North America.

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Defense Blog

Just wanted to take a moment to highlight a really great blog that our industry team for the defense marketplace has been hosting. I really like this blog because I’m interested in the topic but also because my contact there has absolutely the right motivation for championing this; he simply said to me (I’m paraphrasing) “I just can’t do anything more with the resources I have, so if this blog thing gets me in front of more people I care about and delivers valuable and actionable content to them without a big investment on my end, then I’m all about blogs!”. If you are an SAP employee on our network, be sure to check out this blog as an example of someone using innovative off-the-shelf technology to do what they were previously doing just through our portal and e-mail better.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS LINK IS FOR A BLOG BEHIND SAP’S FIREWALL, IT WON’T WORK ON THE PUBLIC INTERNET.

Defense:
Tim Horton’s joins Burger Kings, Subway, and Pizza Hut which are owned by the US Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES) and operated by a concessionaire.

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This highlights the need for us to consider a variety of “Contractor on the battlefield” scenarios when we present our solutions and value proposition.

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