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DiscussionQuestion 1: eBay and Amazon have been competing with each other for some time. Between the two companies, one observation is that Amazon has continued to innovate and adapt, while eBay has basically held steady.
Discuss eBays opportunities over its rivals. What areas it should span, or what technology it should invest, in order to maintain its strength and growth?
The World of Internet Business
eBay's New Tough Love CEOJohn Donahoe assumed the role of CEO on March 31, 2008"The market is saying that they are in real big trouble,Buyers and sellers are trying out rival Web sites, Amazon, Google, EtsyInvestors has grown as the company's shares have lost half their value over the past three yearsDonahoe is planning major investments in technology, including ways that will make it easier for buyers to browse and find goods. "We need to aggressively change our product, our customer approach, and our business modelThe core auction and retail businesses, which account for the majority of revenue, are showing signs of weakness. The number of active users has been flat for three quarters, at 83 million. The number of new products listed on the site has inched up only 4% from a year ago. And the number of stores selling goods at fixed prices on eBay has actually declined from a year earlier, to 532,000.Need to push eBay to be more innovative. "EBay has to be more aggressive and think about strategic planning five to 10 years down the line"
EBay's New Tough Love CEO Business Week, January 23, 2008,Forbes, Feb. 2008
Net Revenue by TypeSource: EBAY INC. REPORTS FIRST QUARTER 2008 RESULTS
Supplemental Operating DataSource: EBAY INC. REPORTS FIRST QUARTER 2008 RESULTS
How about Amazon & Google ?Amazon's investments in technology have made it easier for buyers to find what they want from sellers. There's also more of a sense of trust among its users because Amazon stands behind most third-party transactions.Google has its own payment system called CheckoutOn eBay, it can be extremely difficult to get your money back if you're burned by a seller or buyer.eBay needs to better integrate its auctions with the fixed price shopping convenience offered at sites like Amazon.comKeep the excitement of winning an auction while providing the easy, convenient option of buying at a set price
Pick A Strategic PathFocus on the one thing that it does best and penetrate new marketsCredit card use is increasing in China and IndiaIn 2003, eBay acquired Chinese company Eachnet to launch its operations in the country. However, in 2006, when eBay put its Chinese operation into a joint venture with Tom Online(), a local wireless Internet company, analysts viewed the move as a retreat for eBay.Take its core competencies and expand into related businesses where its auctions are a complementExpanding into new but auction-related businesses through acquisitionPayPal and Shopping.comEBay can use the social nature of its site to create new tools that could improve the rate of purchases, gain more "wallet share" from its existing customers.
Making eBay "Easier And Safer to Use"Competition has eroded much of the advantage that eBay once hadRoll out new search technology in certain categories that enables shoppers to look for specific items based on relevancy and to narrow their results by color, brand, size, and other featuresLaunched a new photo-focused service that allows users essentially to window shop for things, rather than read through long descriptions beside small thumbnail imagesAddress few areas--including fraud, the difficulties some have in navigating through the site and the need for better search tools.
Perfect The BasicsMarry the value-selection fun created by auctions with the convenience and opportunity inherent in fixed priceRework search abilities, making it easier to add pictures to listings, and is changing its web site to improve the company's merchant rating systemEBay's challenge is to launch innovative new services, either through acquisitions or experimentation within the companyEBay's New Tough Love CEO Business Week, January 23, 2008,
eBay Disruptive InnovationBoth sides of eBay marketplaceAttracting and retaining continued stream of buyersInternet era, consumer is always evolving Whats new?
Fun ProjectseBay Desktop 1.0 (February 26, 2008)the enhanced eBay Desktop application that lets users search, bid/receive alerts, and moreeBay Countdown (July 20, 2007)watch, bid and win auctions using a live clock and instant bidding with eBay CountdowneBay Deal Finder (November 8, 2006)use eBay eBay Deal Finder to discover valuable items that others haven't including items with zero bidseBay Flyer (December 21, 2007)print out your awesome auction in an easy to read format, ready for posting on a local bulletin boardBid Assistant(May 17, 2007)having trouble winning an item? create a group of items youre interested in, set your maximum bids, and Bid Assistant will bid on your behalf until you win one item from the groupMapIt (October 1, 2006)find eBay items near you by plotting search results on a mapeBay Marketplace on Facebook (August 21, 2007)eBay + your Facebook friends = sheer genius. Post, brag and peek at your favorite eBay friends and items. alerts, and moreeBay Matchups (September 1, 2006)pit your favorite items, celebrities, or concepts against each other in a popularity contest powered bye eBayeBay ToGo (April 30, 2007)show off eBay listings on any web page
Fun Facts About eBay110 Million items for sale on the site$59 Billion in gross merchandize value (GMV) per yearApprox $2,039 worth of goods traded on the site every second 309 Million registered users2 Billion URL requests per day6,000 application servers with 12,000 Java processes40 Billion database requests per day300 different databases (over 700 instances)9 PB of data storage13 million lines of source code (In 2008 will surpass Windows NT 4.0 O/S 16 million lines)Source: MySQL in eBays Personalization PlatformChris Kasten, eBay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008eBay 2007 Annual Meeting of Stockholders June 14, 2007eBays vision is to help people everywhere connect, discover and interact with each other through commerce
Find Buy - Pay
Improve the Finding ExperienceNew Search Result
Improve the Finding ExperienceNew Search ResultNew Search Landing Pages
Improve the Finding ExperienceNew Search ResultNew Search Landing PagesNew Relevancy Based Listing Sort Best Match
Improve the Shopping ExperienceBid Assistant
Improve the Shopping ExperienceBid AssistantDetailed Seller Ratings Feedback 2.0
Improve the Shopping ExperienceBid AssistantDetailed Seller Ratings Feedback 2.0Improved eBay Checkout
Improve the Shopping ExperienceBid AssistantDetailed Seller Ratings Feedback 2.0Improved eBay CheckoutMotors 2.0
Extend offeringeBay ExpressConvenience oriented buyerNew search engineShopping cart
Extend offeringTickets -StubHubA leading secondary tickets marketplaceBest in class buying/selling experience
Improve Trust & SafetySafeguarding Member IDsSelling limits on items favored by counterfeitersEnhanced buyer protection
BackgroundFurther distinguish the eBay shopping experienceProvide a more relevant and even better user experienceProvide users with a more rich experience with greater continuityProvide users with the best selection tailored to their interests/profileProvide better user experience through real time personalization data feedback loop that is immediately availableProvide users with tailored alternativesFurther distinguish the eBay business value propositionAdvertising shown to more relevant buyersMore effective merchandizing and marketing of itemsIncrease conversion rates through better buyer experience and greater relevancy of items presented to the buyerSource: MySQL in eBays Personalization PlatformChris Kasten, eBay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008
eBay ArchitectureeBay Serves 5 Billion API Calls Each Month.More and more traffic driven by mashups composed on top of open APIsEveryday 26 billion SQL queries and keeps tabs on 100 million items available for purchase.1 billion page views a day, 105 million listings, 2 petabytes of data, 3 billion API calls a monthThe database is virtualized and spans 600 production instances residing in more than 100 server clusters15,000 application servers, all J2EE. About 100 groups of functionality aka "apps". Notion of a "pool": "all the machines that deal with selling"..Lesson LearnedScale Out, Not Up Horizontal scaling at every tier. Functional decomposition.
Prefer Asynchronous Integration Minimize availability coupling. Improve scaling options.Virtualize Components Reduce physical dependencies. Improve deployment flexibility.
The ArchitectureScaling only horizontal, not vertical: many parallel boxes.Architectures is strictly divided into layers: data tier, application tier, search, operations,Split databases by primary access path, modulo on a key.Every database has at least 3 on-line databases. Distributed over 8 data centersSome database copies run 15 min behind, 4 hours behindDatabases are segmented by function: user, item account, feedback, transaction, over 70 in all.No stored procedures, simple triggersMove out cpu-intensive work to application layerNo client-side transactions, no distributed transactionsUses reliable multicast from primary database to search nodes, in-memory search index, horizontal segmentation, N slices, load-balances over M instances, cache queries.
BackgroundeBay needed to expand its real time personalization capabilitieseBay needed to be able to associate more data with sessionsBoth personalization and session data were constrained by technologyCookies limitationClient side cookie limit of 4KB dataLong term scalability issue of sending all cookie data, whether needed or not High cost of traditional server side solutions using an OLTP databaseeBays very large scale quickly multiplies costs in to a very large number Throughput of OLTPs decrease with high write ratio of approximately 50%Large number of licenses/servers needed for throughput was cost prohibitiveHigh cost of other commercial alternatives at eBays very large scaleThese constraints were limiting business decisions and had to be solvedSource: MySQL in eBays Personalization PlatformChris Kasten, eBay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008
eBay Personalization System General VisionEvery Application ServerCan Access Data For Every URL Request(All 2 Billion of them!)Session DataPersonalization DataChris Kasten : Bay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008
eBay Personalization SystemMySQL Memory EngineCache TierApplicationServersBrowserPersistentDatabaseChris Kasten : Bay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008
eBay Personalization SystemReplicationMySQL Memory EngineCache TierApplicationServersPersistentDatabase5 min BatchedWrite BackRead/WriteCache Miss ReadChris Kasten : Bay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008
eBay Personalization System OverviewReplication optional based on criticality of data loss for past 5 min Trade-off between data criticality versus double the memory costSome personalization data may not be critical enough for the additional hardware costSingle threaded MySQL replication is generally problematicOnce replication falls behind it stays behind with continued trafficReplication can be achieved via dual writes from the application server performed transparently by the frameworkSecond write to replica can be asynchronousAutomatic redistribution of data when node failure or draining a nodeChris Kasten : Bay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008
eBay Personalization System OverviewWrite back to persistent database performed by batch processEvictions performed by batch process based on target free memoryBuffering space is set aside in case persistent database is unavailableSpecial techniques used to minimize table lock duration during write back and eviction operationsChris Kasten : Bay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008
ResultsA business critical system running on MySQL Enterprise for one of the largest scale websites in the worldHighly scalable and low cost system that handles all of eBays personalization and session data needsAbility to handle 4 billion requests per day of 50/50 read/write operations for approximately 40KB of data per user / session
Chris Kasten : Bay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008
ResultsHighly manageable system for entire operational life cycle Leveraging MySQL Dashboard as a critical tool in providing insight into system performance, trending, and identifying issues Adding new applications to ebay.com domain that previously would have been in a different domain because of cookie constraintsCreating several new business opportunities that would not have been possible without this new low cost personalization platformLeveraging MySQL Memory Engine for other types of caching tiers that are enabling new business opportunitiesChris Kasten : Bay Kernel Framework Group April 16, 2008
How eBay Searches and Updates 100 Million Listings in 60 SecondsThe search infrastructure at eBayeBay featured up to 100 million listings, and 60,000 changes per minute, now it takes only a minute or two for a new item to show up in the search engineInstead of searching the entire database at once, eBay looks at nearly two dozen slices. Conducting smaller searches simultaneously at data centers in San Jose and Phoenix and elsewhere is much faster. The trick is then combining those sets of results to look like a single query.
Architectural ForcesScalabilityResource usage should increase linearly with loadDesign for 10x growth in data, traffic, users, rtc.AvailabilityResilience of failureGraceful degradationRecoverability from failureLatencyUser experience latencyData LatencyManageabilitySimplicityMaintainabilityDiagnosticsCostDevelopment effort and complexityOperational cost (TCO)Randy Shoup, eBay Distinguished Architect
Architectural StrategiesStrategy 1: Partition EverythingHow do you eat an elephant?... One bite at a timeStrategy 2: Async EverywhereGood things come to those who waitStrategy 3: Automate EverythingGive a man a fish and he eats for a day teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetimeStrategy 4: Remember Everything FailsBe preparedRandy Shoup, eBay Distinguished Architect
Partition DatabaseSegment database into functional areasGroup data using standard modeling techniqueCardinality (1:1, 1:N, M:N)RelationshipsUsage characteristicsLogical hostsAbstract applications logical representation from hosts physical locationSupport combining and splitting without code changeUserItemTransactionProductAccountFeedbackRandy Shoup, eBay Distinguished Architect
Horizontal SplitSplit database horizontally along primary access pathMultiple split approaches for different use casesModulo on key (item id, user id, etc.)Aggregation / routing in Data Access Layer (DAL)Randy Shoup, eBay Distinguished Architect
SearchRead-only search decoupled from write-intensive transactional databaseHorizontal split, aggregate parallelizes query over N slices, load-balances over M instancesRandy Shoup, eBay Distinguished Architect
Async EverywhereMessage DispatchSellingItemHostNRandy Shoup, eBay Distinguished Architect
Bid Assistant http://innovation.ebay.com/?p=12
eBay To Go (beta)! Showcase your favorite eBay discoveries directly on your website or blog! Setting up eBay To Go is both easy and free.Create your widget now and make your website stand out!
eBay Deal Finder
Where did Map It go? Map It was a prototype site designed to make it easy to find eBay items close to you. Unfortunately, the eBay Map It prototype is no longer available. What is was Map It?Map It is a prototype site that is designed to make it easy to find eBay items near to you. It features a prominent zip code box as well as search results that are plotted on a map. Why did eBay build Map It?Map It was built by a couple of eBays internal developers as an example of what can be done using eBays APIs (which can be accessed publicly through the eBay Developers Program). Map It provides an entirely different way to look at eBay.
Sorry! eBay Matchups is closedWhat we used to say about Matchups: Have you ever wanted to put two things side by side and determine which is better?
Thats a Match Up.And thats what eBay Match Ups lets you do: create a Match Up, vote for the winners, and interact with other eBay members!
Launched in September of 2006, eBay Matchups has grown from a private beta project built off of the eBay API to being home to one of most thriving and eccentric communities on eBay.
EXPANSION QUEENThe core auction and retail businesses, which account for the majority of revenue, are showing signs of weakness. Thenumber of active users has been flat for three quarters, at 83 million. The number of new products listed on the site hasinched up only 4% from a year ago. And the number of stores selling goods at fixed prices on eBay has actually declinedfrom a year earlier, to 532,000.Some sellers have discovered it's often easier and more efficient to sell their wares on rival sites such as Amazon.com(AMZN). Amazon's investments in technology have made it easier for buyers to find what they want from sellers. There'salso more of a sense of trust among its users because Amazon stands behind most third-party transactions. On eBay, itcan be extremely difficult to get your money back if you're burned by a seller or buyer. "Sellers are growing like crazy over[at Amazon]," says Scott Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, which helps sellers manage their merchandise on eBay,Amazon, and other e-commerce channels.Whitman's focus on expansion and profits pushed eBay's stock to its earlier heights. During her 10 years at the helm, shetransformed the San Jose-based company from a simple auction site into a global e-commerce giant by pushing into MAKING EBAY "EASIER AND SAFER TO USE"But expansion and diversification have their limits. As Whitman looked for new opportunities, rival Web sites, particularlyAmazon, made inroads into the core e-commerce business. "Competition has eroded much of the advantage that eBayonce had," says Derek Brown, a research analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald. Whitman has made some of the investments thatsellers and buyers want.Late last year, eBay began rolling out new search technology in certain categories that enables shoppers to look forspecific items based on relevancy and to narrow their results by color, brand, size, and other features. The site alsolaunched a new photo-focused service that allows users essentially to window shop for things, rather than read throughlong descriptions beside small thumbnail images.Donahoe will certainly benefit from those investments. But he will have to build on them to bring the old vibrancy back toeBay's marketplace. EBay plans to announce additional steps in coming weeks, including a loyalty program for sellers. Inaddition, Donahoe says eBay will come down hard on fraudulent sellers and offer buyers more protection. "We are going toget very aggressive about making eBay easier and safer to use," he says. "While we have made strides in these areas, weneed to do much more."
John Donahoe will concentrate on winning back users, even at investors' expenseby Catherine HolahanFor three years, as the stock of eBay (EBAY) has slid, Chief Executive Meg Whitman has asked investors for patience. OnJan. 23, when the online auction site announced that John Donahoe would take over the top job, he had a clear messagefor investors: 2008 isn't going to be your year, either.Managing eBay is one of the toughest jobs in the tech industry. The CEO at the online auction site has the dauntingresponsibility of trying to keep happy three vocal, and often opposing, factions: eBay's investors, shoppers, and sellers.While Whitman did a stellar job of balancing the conflicting interests for years, she struggled more recently to keep any ofthe groups satisfied. Buyers and sellers are trying out rival Web sites, and investors' ire has grown as the company'sshares have lost half their value over the past three years. "The market is saying that they are in real big trouble," saysanalyst Tim Boyd of American Technology Research.INVESTORS WILL NEED PATIENCEDonahoe made it clear his first priority as CEO will be revitalizing eBay's core business, even at the expense of investors.He plans to slice some of the fees that eBay charges sellers on the site to draw in more users and to persuade them tooffer a greater array of products. He's also planning major investments in technology, including ways that will make it easierfor buyers to browse and find goods. "We need to aggressively change our product, our customer approach, and ourbusiness model," Donahoe said in his first conference call as CEO designate.The strategy will put a damper on eBay's financial results, at least for the short term. The company says it expectsrevenues of $2 billion to $2.05 billion for the first quarter, below the $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion that analysts had expected.After the financials were released on Jan. 23, eBay's stock dropped 6% in post-market trading, giving up almost all of theday's gains.Donahoe may have no choice but to rankle investors as he focuses on the long-term health of the company. EBay reported solid results for the fourth quarter, with net income rising 53%, to $531 million, while revenues increased 27%, to $2.2 billion. But much of that growth came from its newer and smaller businesses, particularly the PayPal online paymentoperation and the Internet calling service Skype.
EXPANSION QUEENThe core auction and retail businesses, which account for the majority of revenue, are showing signs of weakness. Thenumber of active users has been flat for three quarters, at 83 million. The number of new products listed on the site hasinched up only 4% from a year ago. And the number of stores selling goods at fixed prices on eBay has actually declinedfrom a year earlier, to 532,000.Some sellers have discovered it's often easier and more efficient to sell their wares on rival sites such as Amazon.com(AMZN). Amazon's investments in technology have made it easier for buyers to find what they want from sellers. There'salso more of a sense of trust among its users because Amazon stands behind most third-party transactions. On eBay, itcan be extremely difficult to get your money back if you're burned by a seller or buyer. "Sellers are growing like crazy over[at Amazon]," says Scott Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, which helps sellers manage their merchandise on eBay,Amazon, and other e-commerce channels.Whitman's focus on expansion and profits pushed eBay's stock to its earlier heights. During her 10 years at the helm, shetransformed the San Jose-based company from a simple auction site into a global e-commerce giant by pushing into
Pick A Strategic PathAmit suggests another key chore for Donahoe is to outline a strategicplan. EBay has two alternatives typically faced by companies thatgrow quickly and then mature: "It can either have total focus on theone thing that it does best and penetrate new markets, or ... it can takeits core competencies and expand into related businesses where itsauctions are a complement."If eBay were to focus on taking its core auction business to newmarkets, two obvious choices would be China and India, Amit says.Ebay has already ventured into China--but with mixed results. In 2003,eBay acquired Chinese company Eachnet to launch its operations inthe country. However, in 2006, when eBay put its Chinese operationinto a joint venture with Tom Online, a local wireless Internet company,analysts viewed the move as a retreat for eBay.What's different this time? Amit says credit card use is increasing inChina and India, thereby making eBay's business model--whichdepends on electronic payment systems--more feasible. In that sense,eBay's first effort in China was too early, says Amit. There will bechallenges in both China and India, but eBay could sustain growth foryears in those markets.Hosanagar agrees that eBay has to expand abroad, but acknowledgessuch moves are tricky to pull off. "EBay must figure out ways to havean impact elsewhere, like it did in the United States. While eBay madesignificant investments in both China and India, both efforts werelargely unsuccessful," he says, adding that trust is a major impedimentto eBay's business in countries like India and China. But those issuescould be overcome if eBay partners with local banks, insurance firmsand even competitors to establish best practices. "EBay needs to domore in these countries to develop the market itself."The other strategic approach sees eBay expanding into new butauction-related businesses through acquisition, says Amit. The auctiongiant already has a blueprint for this strategy, created for itsacquisitions of PayPal and Shopping.com. Using this approach, eBaycould emulate companies like Cisco Systems and Oracle (nasdaq:ORCL - news - people ), which have completed dozens ofacquisitions. The acquisition route could be risky, however, if eBaytries to diversify into unrelated businesses.According to Hsu, another risk to any acquisition strategy is the drainon management time. If eBay were to start making larger acquisitions,it would require upper management's attention to integration plans. Abetter route may be to focus on smaller deals. "The acquisition route istough," says Hsu. "The question [eBay will have to face] is whether itwants to devote CEO time to integration or to making smaller bets. It'sbest to go the targeted route."Hosanagar suggests that before Donahoe focuses on any specificstrategic plan, he needs to figure out what the company does best,then better thread together its existing businesses. "EBay mustarticulate a clear long-term positioning and core competence, and usethat to guide its acquisition strategy."Can EBay Restore Past Glory?Experts at Wharton say Donahoe will have his challenges managingeBay and boosting growth, but the company has resources at itsdisposal. Perhaps the biggest asset eBay has (aside, obviously, from$4.9 billion in cash and short-term investments as of Dec. 31) is itscommunity, Amit says. "Donahoe has a lot to work out, but he is sittingon enormous, valuable assets, such as community and reputation."EBay can use the social nature of its site to create new tools that couldimprove the rate of purchases, he adds. "In many ways, the eBaycommunity is a social network." By utilizing social networking andpursuing related businesses to complement auctions, eBay could gainmore "wallet share" from its existing customers.Meanwhile, eBay's business model is far from broken. For the yearending Dec. 31, 2007, eBay reported net income of $348 million onrevenues of $7.67 billion. What's different, however, is that eBay nowhas more competition than ever. On Amazon's fourth-quarterconference call, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Szkutak said Amazonhas been successful attracting outside merchants to use thecompany's e-commerce platform. Amazon's third-party merchantservices resemble eBay's, with features such as seller ratings.The big difference is that Amazon's merchants sell at a fixed price,while eBay conducts auctions. "Our seller business globally is verystrong," Szkutak noted during the call. "We are continuing to try towork on that experience for sellers, to make it even better. Certainly,our goal is to have sellers increase their sales on our platform, and sowe continue to do a number of different things to make it easier forthem" to accomplish that.Google has its own payment system, Google Checkout, to competewith eBay's PayPal--making the Internet giant another competitivethreat, according to Hosanagar.But eBay has an excellent brand, and can compete with its rivals."EBay starts as a favorite," he says. "This is eBay's game to lose."MAKING EBAY "EASIER AND SAFER TO USE"But expansion and diversification have their limits. As Whitman looked for new opportunities, rival Web sites, particularlyAmazon, made inroads into the core e-commerce business. "Competition has eroded much of the advantage that eBayonce had," says Derek Brown, a research analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald. Whitman has made some of the investments thatsellers and buyers want.Late last year, eBay began rolling out new search technology in certain categories that enables shoppers to look forspecific items based on relevancy and to narrow their results by color, brand, size, and other features. The site alsolaunched a new photo-focused service that allows users essentially to window shop for things, rather than read throughlong descriptions beside small thumbnail images.Donahoe will certainly benefit from those investments. But he will have to build on them to bring the old vibrancy back toeBay's marketplace. EBay plans to announce additional steps in coming weeks, including a loyalty program for sellers. Inaddition, Donahoe says eBay will come down hard on fraudulent sellers and offer buyers more protection. "We are going toget very aggressive about making eBay easier and safer to use," he says. "While we have made strides in these areas, weneed to do much more."
why innovation?Posted by Rolf Skyberg on December 14, 2007 at 3:31 PM UTCA few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on a home research visit with one of our powersellers. When we are developing new products we find it helpful to go out and ask our members what they think, and how it might be improved.We discussed many things as she walked us through how she uses the site and how she runs her business. The comment I found most interesting was her response to some Innovation projects we were near to launching. While she found them interesting, it was clear we hadnt hit it out of the park for her.Investigating this further, she asked why we do all this stuff and spend money on it when she doesnt see how it is going to bring her more buyers.I returned to the office, her comment ringing in my head, wondering if she might be right. My very job title, Disruptive Innovator could possibly be seen as someone who directly threatens a steady revenue stream. So why would eBay employ a (very) small team of Disruptive Innovators to think up and build projects where the value isnt readily apparent? The question rattled in my head over the following weeks, popping up to be considered here and there as I worked.Eventually the idea came to me in the shower one morning:the eBay marketplace was created by eBay, Inc. but it only exists as long as sellers are willing to list their items there. Both sides of the table must cooperate in equity. The sellers provide inventory and eBay provides the buyers for those items. In order to ensure a continued stream of buyers, eBay is obligated to explore new ways of attracting them and better ways of retaining them. Because the internet consumer is always evolving, part of our responsibility is to make sure that we are following whats new and even thinking it up ourselves is possible.So why do we innovate? Because it would be irresponsible not to. Many base their livelihood on eBay, and we cant let our offering become stale for buyers.While it may sometimes seem that all this stuff is a little out there, it puts us in a position where we can re-use that knowledge when the market is more clearly defined. Innovation is our way of saying, we know the world is changing, but dont worry, weve got it covered.About Innovation.eBay.comThe innovation site is our place to show off some of the fun projects and experiments we're working on and to share insights into innovation we see across the Internet. Look around, kick the tires on our projects and tell us what you think. If you have any innovation-related questions or comments, drop us a line at [email protected]
(http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/news/2007/11/ebay2)A downloadable eBay Desktop application allows users to bid and get streaming price updates without opening a web browser.Three new widgets can be used on blogs and social networks outside eBay's walls: eBay To Go, GiftBay and eBay Marketplace for Facebook.Bid Assistant automatically places bids for a buyer.eBay Countdown is an easier (read: more in-your-face) way to keep track of auctions that are just about to close.eBay Deal Finder helps you seek out items that will close soon but have no bids entered yet.This fall, eBay also unveiled a site redesign with sleeker, simplified graphical interfaces and new pathways to search for items. On eBay Playground (aversion of the site where eBay tests new features), for example, the "snapshot view" of items displays search returns as a tiled wall of photos. Mouseover them, and pricing info pops up.Other discovery features hop on the social-network bandwagon. Neighborhoods, a forum for like-minded collectors to network, got buzz when itlaunched in early October, and the still-unpublicized EKG allows users to curate their favorite items and share them with others, a concept similar tocraft-commerce site Etsy's Treasury.Rolf Skyberg, whose title at eBay is "disruptive innovator," frames the new social features using the "hierarchy of needs" theory proposed bypsychologist Abraham Maslow in 1945. Retail stores, he points out, frequently sell hot dogs. Why? Because they meet shoppers' basic need for food,thereby enabling them to shop longer. If eBay can meet a shopper's social needs, perhaps she will spend more time on the site. (Skyberg recently gavean amusing presentation on the subject.)
2008 MySQL Application of the Year FaceBook - Social Network Virgin Mobile France - Mobile Operator eBay - ECommerce Site According to Chris, he and his Kernel Framework team sought to provide a technology platform that would enable eBay to have a richer and more effective personalized experience. The vision was to provide each of the several thousand application servers running the eBay site the ability to access and leverage an instantly updateable, globally shared, personalization data system on every URL request. As a result, eBay collaborated with MySQL starting back in the Summer of 2007. In my discussions with Chris and James it was agreed that eBay had been traditionally close-to-the-chest with its technology and application implementation, so getting an award for leveraging the power of open source software was impressive indeed. Chris went on to say, although not advertised very much, eBay is a technology company at its core, providing internally developed technology solutions for one of the largest scale sites in the world. This particular cache system is built to handle over 4 billion requests per day!
Lessons Learnedl Scale Out, Not Up Horizontal scaling at every tier. Functional decomposition.l Prefer Asynchronous Integration Minimize availability coupling. Improve scaling options.l Virtualize Components Reduce physical dependencies. Improve deployment flexibility.
l Everything is planned with the question "what if load increases by 10x". Scaling only horizontal, notvertical: many parallel boxes.l Architectures is strictly divided into layers: data tier, application tier, search, operations,l Leverages MSXML framework for presentation layer (even in Java)l Oracle databases, WebSphere Java (still 1.3.1)l Split databases by primary access path, modulo on a key.l Every database has at least 3 on-line databases. Distributed over 8 data centersl Some database copies run 15 min behind, 4 hours behindl Databases are segmented by function: user, item account, feedback, transaction, over 70 in all.l No stored procedures are used. There are some very simple triggers.l Move cpu-intensive work moved out of the database layer to applications applications layer: referentialintegrity, joins, sorting done in the application layer! Reasoning: app servers are cheap, databases are thebottleneck.l No client-side transactions. no distributed transactionsl J2EE: use servlets, JDBC, connection pools (with rewrite). Not much else.l No state information in application tier. Transient state maintained in cookie or scratch database.l App servers do not talk to each other -- strict layering of architecturel Search, in 2002: 9 hours to update the index running on largest Sun box available -- not keeping up.l Average item on site changes its search data 5 times before it is sold (e.g. price), so real-time searchresults are extremely important.l "Voyager": real-time feeder infrastructure built by eBay.. Uses reliable multicast from primary databaseto search nodes, in-memory search index, horizontal segmentation, N slices, load-balances over Minstances, cache queries.
Many large scale web site architects and developers have long felt the constraints of living in the 4 KB limit imposed upon the cookie space in a browser. The desire and business need to associate valuable data with a session or user as they traverse through your web site can open many doors of opportunity for a web site, including the notion of personalization. Personalizations goal is to deliver a highly relevant and optimized user experience in order to provide a better user experience and achieve increases in conversion and revenue.Historically, tidbits of information have been squirreled away in cookies as the most scalable way of associating rapidly changing data with a users session, as most server side solutions that attempted to store and share this rapidly changing session state across several thousand stateless applications servers have had significant scalability issues for large scale sites like eBay, which require a stateless architecture for scalability and manageability. Approaches using traditional OLTP systems like Oracle have also suffered from significant scalability issues from the high transaction rate of write operations that lead to excessive cost in hardware and software licenses to support the load of a large scale site like eBay with over 2 billion URL requests per day.eBays Kernel Framework team sought to provide a technology platform that would enable eBay to have a more rich and effective personalization strategy. The vision was to provide each of the several thousand application servers running the eBay site the ability to access and leverage an instantly updateable, globally shared, personalization data system on every URL request. This system would have to be both cost effective and highly scalable for future growth in both data size and number of transactions.The eventual solution implemented by eBay was a system built upon the MySQL Memory Engine as the core cache engine. MySQLs Memory Engine with its rich SQL capabilities and flexibility, along with its ability to perform significantly more read/write operations per second (loosely transactions per second) on a low cost hardware platform than several other technologies considered, while also having a very attractive price point, was a clear choice for eBay.This presentation will discuss the challenges of attempting to provide such a large scale personalization technology platform and how eBay leveraged the MySQL Memory Engine and collaboration with MySQL AB (eBay leveraged the power of open source and donated a significant enhancement it had developed to MySQL, which MySQL productionalized) to produce a robust and scalable system.Approx 25 Sun 4100s running 100% of eBays personalization and session data service (2 CPU, Dual core Opteron, 16 GB RAM, Solaris 10 x86)
As I described in the magazine recently, eBay is pursuing a new strategy, catering to buyers instead of sellers. It'sthe biggest and most urgent change to the site in years.Although the number of listings and gross merchandise sales have continued climbing, buyer activity has sloweddown dramatically. Despite the mind-blowing number of registered users worldwide - 222 million, or theequivalent of three-quarters of the U.S. population - only about a third bid, bought, or listed an item in theprevious 12 months. Those active buyers increased at the smallest rate in four years, a dangerous trend.eBay has been overhauling its site to make shopping easier and enjoyable, with features such as windowshopping,auction-countdown, and eBay-to-Go. But one of the keys to improving the overall experience remainsbehind the scenes: the search technology.Meet Randy Shoup, the main architect for search infrastructure at eBay.Search infrastructure may not sound exciting, but it certainly is to him. Shoup comes across as someone who can'tbelieve his good fortune, like a pilot who finds himself in the cockpit of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. "There areonly a handful of e-commerce sites that operate at this level," he said. "Yahoo, Amazon, Google, and eBay."The search challenge for eBay is not only indexing and searching an enormous database, but keeping up with thelatest changes to that database - about 1,000 per second. A bid. A purchase. A new listing. The inventory and prices are in constant flux. Now you see what's exciting about search infrastructure?Several years ago, eBay featured 12 million listings on average. Now it's up to 100 million listings. iPhones. Usedcars. The new Madden. DVDs on the 1964 New York World's Fair (more on that later). In the old days, it wouldtake as long as nine hours for a new item to appear in a search, not the sort of time lag that does sellers or buyersany good. "It was pretty unpleasant," says Shoup, "but now it takes only a minute or two for a new item to showup in the search engine."How do you search 100 million items and 60,000 changes per minute in such a short time? The same way anyteam tackles a big job: by breaking it down. Instead of searching the entire database at once, eBay looks at nearlytwo dozen slices. Conducting smaller searches simultaneously at data centers in San Jose and Phoenix andelsewhere is much faster. The trick is then combining those sets of results to look like a single query.And that is how I did part of my Christmas shipping this year. I searched eBay for DVDs showing historicalfootage of the 1964 New York World's Fair, my parents' first trip to New York. When they opened the DVD,they gave me one of those priceless "Where in the world did you find this?" looks.I'd love to take the credit. But it wasn't me. It was Shoup and eBay's algorithms.
eBay FlyereBay is an amazing marketplace, connecting millions of buyers and countless sellers. But how can you reach those buyers who might not be checking eBay day and night?eBay Flyer to the rescue!Sometimes, the people most likely to buy your stuff are the people around you. Maybe they shop at the same grocery store you do, attend the same church, or live down the hall in your dorm. eBay Flyer is a great way to let them know that you have something begging to be theirs.How does it work? Nothing fancy here folks, just print your flyer, cut the strips and tape, staple or pin it up where you think it will be noticed. Curious humans will be drawn like moths to a porch light and investigate your new poster. If interested, theyll grab a little tear-strip for future reference. When they return home, entering the URL on the tear-strip will take them directly to your auction.Its free, right? Of course it is! Just another service from eBay Innovation to drive more customers to you. Consider it a holiday gift.What should I make a flyer for? What works best? Well, thats really up to you. Large, awkward or locale-specific items might do well because who wants to pay shipping? Couches, TVs, cars, furniture and anything else you dont want to drag to the post office are perfect candidates.OK, so how do I get started? First, list your item on eBay. Once youve listed your item for sale on eBay, creating your flyer is just 3 simple steps:Choose: visit http://flyer.ebay.com and enter your Item ID or User ID to select your item Edit: well start you off with what we think youll want, but feel free to change what you like Print: click Print to send it to your printer or Save as PDF to download it for later use, dont forget to cut the tear-strips!
Bid Assistant Why spend valuable time bidding when Bid Assistant can do it for you? No more bidding on similar items over and over trying to win one. Designed for busy buyers, Bid Assistant eliminates the need to bid on multiple items one at a time. Think of Bid Assistant as your own personal bidding aide. Just tell it what to bid on and your highest bid. Bid Assistant will blaze through your list -- automatically bidding for you. You can bid on a group of similar items, but win just one! It's free, so why not give it a try?
Bid AssistantBid Assistant allows you to create a group of items youre interested in, set your maximum bids, and have Bid Assistant bid on your behalf until you win one item from the group.Its easy to set up your bidding group and have Bid Assistant do the work for you:Create your group. Add items to your Items Im Watching list. Then, select the checkbox next to any item you want to add to your group, and click the Bid with Bid Assistant button. Place your bids. You can set one maximum bid that will apply to each item in your group, or enter a different maximum bid for each item. Track your status. View the status of your group by clicking the Bid Assistant link in the left column in My eBay. Bid Assistant will move through your group (starting with the item that ends first), and place bids on your behalf. Bid Assistant will continue bidding until you win one item, or until you reach the end of your group.Once youve won an item, your bidding activity will stop, and your group will be closed.Only one bid in your group will be active at any time. If you get outbid on an item, eBay will wait until that item closes before bidding on the next item in your group.eBay CountdownWhat is eBay Countdown? eBay Countdown is a brand new way to track and bid on your eBay auctions. It provides a persistent way to stay reminded of your saved items and searches. Countdown includes:Real time alerts: reminders pushed out to your browser when you are outbid or when a watched item is about to end; alerts include both visual and sound reminders. On screen bidding: no need to wait for pages to reload to bid. Bidding is fast and easy inside Countdown. Instant access to My eBay Buying: get quick access to items bid on or watched. Favorites ticker: a scrolling ticker displays results to your saved searches so you can watch or bid on saved search results quickly Do I have to download or install anything? Nope! No download is required. You just need a web browser that supports Flash.eBay ToGoHave you ever found something on eBay that you really wanted to let your friends know about? If so, eBay To Go is for you. Its a fun and easy way for you to share the interesting things youve discovered on eBay and personalize your blog, social networking page or website.Q. Who can create an eBay To Go?A. Anyone can create their own eBay To Go widget, even non-eBay users.Q. Is eBay To Go free?A. Yes - its free and its fun. Try it out yourself!Q. I have a great feature idea Id like to share. How can I contact you?A. We would love to hear from you! Please send your recommendations to [email protected] Is eBay To Go only for listings?A. You can create an eBay To Go for a single item, multiple items (up to 10) or for a favorite search. Were working on getting more versions built for you too send us an email if you have ideas for a version youd like to see!Q. What happens if the item I display expires?A. Good question - its up to you! When you create an eBay To Go, we ask you what search results you want to display after the item expires.Q. Why is it called eBay To Go?A. Because eBay is full of entertaining and fun items and we want you to have the ability to take a piece of eBay with you. eBay Deal FinderLooking for a bargain on eBay?Use eBay Deal Finder to discover valuable items that others havent. All eBay items returned have zero bids, less than 4 hours left, no reserve price, free or fixed rate shipping and a total price that includes shipping costs.What items appear in Deal Finder?Deal Finder only displays items that have:zero bids no reserve price less than four hours left free or fixed rate shipping a total price that is below the selected criteria been listed on eBay.com in US currency Why dont some items show up in Deal Finder?Not all items found on eBay.com are displayed in Deal Finder. For an item to be displayed in Deal Finder it must meet the keyword and category constraints as well as have zero bids, no reserve price, less than four hours left, free or fixed rate shipping and a total price that is below the selected criteria. Does Deal Finder include items located outside the US?Deal Finder only includes items listed in US currency. Does Deal Finder include items with variable shipping?Deal Finder only includes items with free or fixed shipping. We are looking to include variable rate shipping, stay tuned How does a seller qualify to have his/her items appear on Deal Finder?Any sellers items can appear on Deal Finder. The only requirement is that the item meets the keyword and category constraints as well as have zero bids, no reserve price, less than four hours left, free or fixed shipping rate shipping and a total price that is below the selected criteria. All the items have ended. How do I view active items?If all the items displayed have ended, click on the See active items link in the bottom right hand corner. How do I see all of the items on eBay that match my search criteria?To see all of the items that match your keywords and category constraints, click on the See all link in the bottom left hand corner. Where can I provide feedback or suggestions for Deal Finder?We would love to hear what you think of Deal Finder and if you have any suggestions. To do so, click on the Tell us what you think link on the search results page, right below the Popular deals.