Punchinello’s Chronicles

January 23, 2010

eBay – The Great American Fantasy

I’ve watched eBay go from the main online place to sell, to pretty much some place where people used to shop. It’s not entirely true, lots of major discounters and companies from Asia still use the place, and it’s certainly a cheap-o flea market, but it’s not the eBay that got us started.

Here’s an article from CNNMoney that talks about the fantasy coming from the John Donahoe, CEO, as it represents the American business complex. It’s a fantasy that’s instructive, because it’s the same underlying set of premises and delusions taking place in Big Industry and Big Government today, across the country. In many instances, that same set of delusions is running the entire developed world:

EBay sellers’ rebellion: The aftermath

(Read full article…)

EBay’s feedback system, the innovation that helped it stand out from a pack of e-commerce pioneers in the Web’s early days, had always been a two-way street. Buyers want to be sure they’ll get what they ordered; sellers want to guarantee they’ll be paid. Feedback helped both sides reduce the risk of online transactions with strangers.

EBay’s move to silence those on one side of the street made sellers feel like second-class citizens. Donahoe brushed aside their concerns.

“We are extremely focused on improving the buyer experience on eBay,” Donahoe told analysts soon after announcing the changes. “This is not to say that sellers are not important to us, but our belief is and always has been that what is good for buyers is ultimately good for sellers.” (Emphasis mine.)

(snip…)

The changes at eBay left a wake of bitterness, and they’ve transformed a site once known for its community vibe into a more generic sales platform. But for eBay’s management, the financial bottom line is what matters. And in its latest quarter, the company finally presented evidence that its ongoing reinvention may pay off.

“We are starting 2010 with significant progress against our three-year growth strategies for PayPal and eBay and a clear focus on our priorities going forward,” Donahoe said.

What’s interesting is that as goes eBay, so goes America, in my opinion. Note the core belief system evidenced in Donahoe, but clearly echoed in Washington DC, state government, Too-Big-To-Fail banks, major publicly owned enterprise corporations and so many other places. It’s that somehow the BUYER is driving the entire economy!

We hear the numbers that consumer spending makes up 70% of the US economy! That’s utterly dumbfounding! What are those consumers buying if not products PRODUCED by people and companies! It’s the SELLERS that find, gather, price, organize, and ship products to buyers! What’s good for the sellers is ultimately what’s good for the buyers! Not the way Donahoe sees it!

It’s truly mind-boggling how we’ve arrived in a world that allows business executives to be so out of touch with reality. No matter what product, invention, technology or service anyone has ever invented, throughout all of time (pretty much), it’s been the money from buyers that’s made those products better. It’s been the money spend by the buyers on new products that ultimately led to lower prices, better quality (in a lot of cases), more availability. It’s the money coming in to the sellers that helps expand the availability of products.

We can certainly say that what’s good for the buyer is good for the seller, but ONLY if we narrowly constrain that statement. What’s a good product that the buyer likes, wants, uses and talks about is good for the seller! It’s that good PRODUCT that brings money from the consumer, to the seller! With that money, companies grow, hire people, go public, produce investment paper, use banks, use credit, and fundamentally drives the economy.

On the other hand, if we take the statement and totally disconnect it from the underlying principles, we have America 2010. The proposition is that if buyers are given more money, more freebies, more credit then they’ll “somehow” use that to buy from sellers. If sellers are regulated, controlled, nationalized or driven out of business, that “somehow” makes life better for buyers (consumers).

And so, we’re seeing now the results of decades worth of this kind of mega-corporate Harvard MBA mentality. We’re seeing that corporate bottom lines are far more important the production of anything. We’re seeing that banking interests are far more important than selling something or making something. We’re seeing that total control over the producers in society is supposedly a far better system than producing, selling, making, building, creating, or even individuality.

Yup, John Donahoe is exactly the kind of representation we can use to showcase much of American executive talent. You may think it’s the government that’s wrecking the economy, but indeed, it’s that government in concert with the one-size-fits-all Big Box corporate management system.

Keep an eye on eBay, and you’ll see the future of America. Keep an eye on California, and you’ll see the future of America. Watch what happens in the UK and you’ll see the future of America. It’s easy to predict, all you have to do is imagine a world where nobody sells anything. Imagine a world where there no longer is any business at all. Imagine a world where everyone has all the money they can handle, and not a single thing to buy with that money.

In fact, take a look at Zimbabwe if you want to see that world! Buyers are ecstatic that it costs them only $3-TRILLION to catch a bus ride to downtown. Screw the sellers, screw the bus company, and to hell with anyone making a business anywhere. As long as the people of Zimbabwe can boast that they have $100-trillion in their bank accounts, all’s well with the world. Right? What’s good for the buyers is ultimately good for the sellers, even if we have to drive every single seller out of business!

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