New on eBay — a logo?!?

eBay logo

I’m now in my 10th month as Vice President of Technology and Science at eBay heading up the Managed Marketplaces team.  I am also General Manager of the quickly growing eBay Seattle office.

I get so many questions about eBay from my friends and colleagues around the world that I decided I would start blogging again — on this site:

Today was a fun day at eBay, because after 17 years, we announced a brand new logo.

The logo is cool — but even cooler is what it represents.  To me it represents a lot.  It symbolizes how eBay is a totally revitalized company that is on a roll.  The service is quickly attracting new customers, providing great service, innovating groundbreaking new features, and is frankly — just getting started.  As a techie — it also symbolizes how, as a company, eBay totally gets globally distributed development and  is growing an amazing team in the Seattle area where I celebrated today.  My team is spread across many locations including:  San Jose, Seattle, Austin, Salt Lake City, India and China.  Being able to run a team super efficiently across those regions requires a lot of smarts in management and support from the company.  I’m excited that all of the ingredients are present right here…

Feel free to comment, or send me questions on your mind that you’d like to hear me blog about.

A sad day for Microsoft — layoffs. The inevitable result of “panic spending”

While I no longer work for Microsoft, after 20 years there I have a ton of friends who are still there.  Microsoft is a company that cares a lot about it’s employees.  The fact that they have just announced layoffs (Mary Jo Foley Todd Bishop Kara Swisher)is a huge step.  I know that the leadership of Microsoft would have rathered done anything else before having to take this step — they know that it will change the company forever.  It really hits home just how serious this recession is.

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Facebook iPhone app is great, and terrible

Facebook and my iPhone are two of my favorite things right now.  My iPhone almost never leaves my hand — and Facebook let’s me stay on top of so many things that I normally wouldn’t have time to pay attention to:  from Dune trivia to Callie’s creative photography.

But, when you mix your Facebook peanut butter with my iPhone chocolate you’re supposed to get something delicious.  This Reese’s Cup has a bad after-taste that I hope gets fixed soon…

The Facebook iPhone app is a nice app that I prefer to using facebook in Safari — but I run into problems daily.  Here’s a list of my top problems…

1) times in the feed are not accurate.  As I leave it running, I think it might be adding new items to he feed list — but not aging old items — rendering a bunch of random times that are worse than useless.
2) friend list displays blank after a bit of use.  Every few days I go into my friends list and it’s mostly blank — but I can scroll.  This requires me to “reboot my phone” — something I wished I never had to do.
3) each tab needs to update only after I look at it (and shake).   Come on — when I update one tab — send the extra 1000 bytes to update the other tabs I’m likely to look at next.
4) show more posts doesn’t work.   It seems to just repeat the last one over and over.
5) occassional crashes — enough said. 
6) doesn’t update “online” status correctly for people viewing in web browser.  Facebook chat definitely doesn’t work well.  People you chat with on a regular browser see strange status states for you.

Facebook — please fix these problems

Rickey Henderson is a Hall-of-Famer

I am very happy to hear that Rickey Henderson just got elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballet with a definitive 94.8% of the vote 

I had the pleasure to watch Rickey as lead-off hitter for the New York Yankees from 1985-1989 and then for a brief stint for the Seattle Mariners in 2000.  The guy was amazing.  You wouldn’t want to show up to the park a minute late.  He would almost always start with a single — and then steal second — and then steal third.

The good guys would basically start with a 1 run lead before the game had even started.

The only time, it seemed, he wouldn’t start the game with a lead-off single is when he would start it with a lead-off homer.

It was great to watch someone with such great talent and results.  He wasn’t political, wasn’t polished, wasn’t great with the press — but boy could the guy hit and run.  He was a total sparkplug for the rest of the team.  All of that and he had a major league career that started in 1979 and lasted until 2003.

I’m happy to see someone get rewarded for his talent and the indisputable results he achieved.

Congrats to Rickey!

The decline of newspapers may be ugly

The world is much better with strong journalists.  Strong journalists keep everyone honest.  It’s been that way since our country was founded.

While I love consuming news online — I fear that the conversion will leave us in a very bad place.  I cringe when I hear about traditional newspapers cutting costs by slashing their editorial staff.  It’s the physical distribution that’s the problem — and overblown cost structures.  We do not have too many professional journalists in the country…  In fact, we have too few…

That’s why I read with trepedition today’s announcement by The New York Times that they have sold for the first time a banner ad on the front page of their paper.  CBS bought a 2 1/2 inch banner along the bottom of page one.

Is that so bad?  Not by itself, no.  But, it’s one of many steps that have and will be taken to shore up the financials of “old-style” jounralists.  What really needs to happen is for them to take a bold step into the new world — but it’s painful.  What’s next?  Will editorial policy be weakened to appease advertisers?  Will advertisements start showing up in the middle of article text?  Will jounralists be allowed a free hand to be critical?  One step at a time…

When designing software — the little things matter a lot

In general, I think Vista gets a bad run in the press.  I’ve been running all of my computers on Vista since it first came out — and it’s really nice.  I know that I got lucky that I didn’t have any important software incompatabilities — but then again, I run a ton of software so I don’t think I got *that* lucky.

That said — today I got a great example of a bad design that should never have been allowed to ship.  It’s an example of someone really not thinking about me.  Or in Microsoft speak — I was definitely not feeling “empowered”, not realizing my potential, nor was I feeling the “magic of software.”

Today I had to defrag my hard drive.  Hey Vista — how long should that take?

Vista Defrag message does not value my time 😦

A few minutes — great.  A few hours — not so great.  Not knowing which — TERRIBLE!  I guess I’ll just come back in a little while and check.  Oops, still going.  I guess I’ll go to my son’s soccer game AND my daughter’s soccer game.  Oops, still going.  Should I just cancel all of the work I was planning on doing today?  Not sure…

No progress bar, no indication of what a “few hours” could really mean in the worst case…

Please, please fix this in Widows 7 — and let’s all remember that our user’s time is precious.

Perception vs Reality – I Choose Reality

By nature I’m a guy who likes to call things as they are.  But, in our world of mass-media, celebrity worship, big government and big company politics – it’s easy to get confused on whether perception is more important than reality.  Over the past decade I’ve observed several major events where perception appeared to be firmly winning over reality.  It’s frustrating, it grates against my sense of justice, but it’s hard to ignore when it happens.  I’ve observed these periods lasting for many years.  I’ve even had people try to convince me that perception is more important than reality.

But, as my observations stretch out over time, I am beginning to believe that the laws of physics do hold – that reality wins in the end.  This is a very good thing for me, because I don’t want to live in a world where a skilled orator can convince you that gravity is a temporary phenomenon, that a North Pole with no ice is totally normal, that a political candidate or business leader with little to no experience is the most qualified, that a shrinking stock price is a measurement of a strong company, that a team that isn’t efficient is cause for infinite investment, or that of 1999 or Las Vegas real estate of 2004 are suddenly worth 5x what we thought they were.

When you’re in a perception bubble – everyone you know is talking about the extraordinary circumstances you are experiencing.  The press is using all of their 100-point fonts and promotional spaces to alarm you about the crisis you are in.  It’s easy to think at the time that perception is all that matters – or just to feel totally confused about what is real…  Although some people thrive on these periods — it’s depressing to imagine a world where perception is all that matters.  Isn’t the world a much better place if it has stable rules that you can trust?  A world where real estate is a great, yet boring investment to help you retire?  One where your seemingly safest investment can’t randomly put you severely under water.  Wouldn’t we all be better with a business world where people only get promoted based on objective measures – rather than how well they spin or how much fun they are at the work party.

Perception plays an important role in the world.  Clearly nobody should focus just on reality and hope the perception will catch up.  Everyone has to pay attention to BOTH their reality and how people perceive it.  But, if you ever find yourself focusing most of your energy on perception – then you’re in trouble, and the bubble will eventually catch up to you.  And, as we’ve seen recently with Nasdaq of 2000, real estate of 2007, President Bush’s popularity of 2008, and the credit crisis of 2008 – sometimes bubble pops are extremely messy.

Listen to your gut – and please join me in a toast to Reality!