eBay can sure throw a party! A couple of weeks ago (September 10 and 11, 2015) at the San Jose Convention Center swarms of eBay sellers from all over gathered to celebrate eBay’s 20th birthday. There were over 1000 eBayers in attendance along with scores of eBay employees and executives! The event was held over the course of a day and a half of informative sessions and plenty of networking and socializing.
Here is my recap. I arrived about an hour before the first event: A speech from new CEO Devin Wenig. As I checked in, I was surprised and thrilled to receive a $100 Paypal gift card. I was an early bird registrant which cost me a discounted $65. The regular registration was $95, so it was sort of like being there as a guest of eBay’s. There were a handful of eBay guests for some pre-events: the movers and shakers of selling called The Influencers. I was not one of those folks, but that’s okay, even after paying for parking I was still ahead in the money department.
Devin Wenig’s Keynote speech was held in one of the giant rooms at the Convention Center. It filled quickly with the 1000+ guests. The large video screen showed some lead-in videos to get the crowd charged up. The message: eBay has helped average folks become successful business people. And then the main event: Devin told us about what he saw as eBay’s future. With info like a revised rating system, sellers are only held responsible for things in their control. Lots of cheers went up on this statement. And many people were filming every word with their phones!
Devin and the speakers that followed all introduced themselves with examples of things they have most recently bought and sold on eBay. The best way to relate to a group of sellers, is to speak their language! The company, Devin exclaimed was unique in the ecommerce world because of their people and it isn’t going to compare themselves to that other company and their drones! More cheers from the crowd.
He has a like-able nature and speaking style. The message continued, eBay wants to support its sellers, because if they succeed, eBay does too! There was a quick look back at the many timeline events in eBay’s past 20 years. Maybe now after all the growing pains of a score of years, eBay is finally getting it! There was lot of positive energy and buzz throughout the presentation.
The news continued to be good with each VP that came out after Devin. They each shared their latest sales and how long they were with eBay. Some were new, some were older employees, but they all delivered their news of what’s ahead for eBay. The new mobile app was introduced as well as a peak at the new Seller Hub, which can be pre-registered before it rolls out in the next few months. More cheers.
Info about searching and data and promotions and all the topics that professional sellers want to hear about. More cheers. A quick break and more info. Wow, do they really care about us sellers this time? Then some live streaming examples of how the new app and website will appear and operate once fully rolled out. The VP showed everyone his personal items for sale and before you could blink and eye, an audience member purchased something live with buy it now. That was great entertainment, and then another purchase and another. Did they not figure that was going to happen? Either way, the audience was truly engaged and laughing and enjoying it. The VP’s kids were going to be really happy since it was their toys for sale and with each item that sold made them closer to earning money to buy the new trampoline they have their hearts set on!
Then the best surprise was saved for last, Devin introduced the room to eBay’s founder Pierre Omidyar for a fireside chat. His presence was like honey to the bee as the audience jumped to their feet and cheered. We heard from Pierre about his basic premise of eBay, that “People are basically good” and that foundation statement is still true today. He was proud to have brought a platform like eBay for ordinary folks to make something of it themselves. He was just the conduit he said modestly.
Many people ask what the first item that sold on eBay was. Well, it was a broken laser pointer. And what do you know, the folks at eBay found the man up north and made a short video about it. Turns out he still had it and eBay bought it back from him. It would have been fairytale like if it showed up on stage with Devin and Pierre, but instead we found out that it’s on its way back to the founder for posterity and the mail had not arrived yet.
At the end of the day and speeches it was time to PARTY! What followed was something that surprised me, since I had never experienced it before. As we exited the main room, applause began to happen and got louder and louder. The sellers were recognized for all their hard work by the eBay employees lined up all the way to the Ballroom where the dinner and party were going to take place. At first I thought someone in front of me was famous or doing something noteworthy to receive this applause, but soon the iPhones and Androids cameras came out and everyone had big smiles on their faces as they made their way to the dining area. This phenomena is called the clapping tunnel. It was a staple at the eBay Live events of the past. I was at the 15th eBay Birthday Party and can’t recall that happening then, perhaps it did and I was unaware or forgot. But there was something powerful and it made me a little teary to see and hear the applause from the eBay staff. What a moment. More cheers!
The dinner was delicious. There was all types of food and a dozens open bar for drinks. Lots and lots of tables for all in attendance. Dancers, bands, artists to name a few of the entertainment. Confetti and more eating. A toast to eBay by Devin and Pierre along with a selfie posted to social media! I left early to get home to Marin County, but I was pumped up for the next day of events.
Stay tuned for PART 2.