Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

eBay Gets Its Pinterest On

EBay’s look hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last 17 years, and today the e-commerce giant acknowledged that it was overdue for an overhaul.

So here’s the new version, which the company is rolling out to all its U.S. users over the next 100 days.

If you can’t see it on your browser, you can get a pretty good sense of it by heading to Pinterest or any of the other visually-oriented shopping/browsing/collecting sites that have sprung up in the past few years.

Not coincidentally, last month eBay “acqhired” most of the staff of Svpply, a two-year-old site that did a lot of this stuff. Obviously, eBay would have had the site redesign in the works long before the deal, but that was a certainly a tip-off about their direction.

EBay showed off the new Web page at a press event, but didn’t have a whole lot else in the way of news to present. It officially announced its same-day shopping app, but it has been testing that in San Francisco for a bit and, for now, that’s the only place you can use it.

Meanwhile, eBay President Devin Wenig wanted to make sure that no one left the room without understanding that eBay takes mobile very, very seriously. It would have been news if he had said otherwise.


Last month, eBay showed off a new logo. Now they’re promising more: They’ve invited press to New York’s Meatpacking District, where they say they’ll unveil “new experiences that will create better ways to shop and sell.”

Intrigued? Then you’re in luck, as I’ll be liveblogging this one. Expected to present today: eBay President Devin Wenig, CTO Mark Carges and CMO Richelle Parham. The fact that CEO John Donahoe is not on tap — he spoke at a San Francisco event yesterday — should temper your expectations a bit.

Still, onward!

Hello! Tapping this out from 14th Street, in NYC’s semi-fabulous Meatpacking District. We’re under the shadow of the excellent High Line park, and a block away from the Apple Store.

“But Peter!” I hear you asking. “What does the eBay press event look like inside?. Aha: Well! We’ve got an array of Milk Bar-era leather chairs, some screens on the wall, and two teleprompters on the floor.

And now lights are dimming, and some very tepid techno-lounge music is up. If you’ve been on a Virgin America flight, you’ve seen this.

Now a promo video:
Crusty rider bought a motorcycle.
Someone else buys or sells old auto parts.

Someone else bought eight pairs of the same shoe.
Someone else bought something to wear.
And something from Nicaragua. Etc.

Lights up, here’s Devin Wenig.

Dramatic changes in retail to come in the next 10 years.
Mobile will be very important. Predicts eBay will hit $10 billion of annual volume by 2016.

Access more important than physical real estate.

Basically, retail nirvana ahead for consumers.

Time to talk about the “new eBay.”

“EBay is first and foremost a technology platform company.”

100 million active users. Old auction model for other people’s leftovers is … old. “Most of the products we sell are new, most at fixed price.”

Got a hunch that this is going to be more of a marketing event than a press event. And yes, there’s a distinction, sometimes.

New logo goes live today. Also today: Some “enhancements.”

More warm-up and preamble.

More warm-up, this time from CMO Richelle Parham.

She likes Michael Jackson and shoes.

We’ll hear about “innovations” shortly, she says. But first, she’s going to deliver “insight.”

EBay has a lot of data. Most CMOs are terrified of data, says Richelle Parham. But not Richelle Parham! “At eBay, we get it.”

EBay has so much data.

So much data.

“Even before you land on eBay, I know what you’ve searched for.” But don’t be totally freaked out! It’s the future.

You’re tableting at night, smartphoning during the day. EBay is always watching you.

Submit to eBay now!

Actually, eBay wants to “enter a covenant” with you. So this stuff is serious.

“Brands are important.”

EBay cares about mobile.

“Massive engagement” from 100 million app downloads. More time spent with eBay on iPad than desktop. (For all customers? Can’t be. Must be for iPad owners only.)

Story about a guy who bought a Hummer at the airport. The vehicle.

100,000 vehicles sold every week.

Tablet bought every two minutes via mobile.

eBay Now provides same-day shipping for Home Depot, Macy’s and other stores in San Francisco, with more markets coming soon.

Launching ebay Now, same-day shipping, which they’ve been testing for awhile. App available in iTunes now.

Here’s the link.

Also a “My Garage” feature. Supposed to help you buy correct parts for your car.

Demo video.

Now, more detail from CTO Mark Carges. He likes the Black Keys, just like Richelle Parham.

He’s into mobile, too.

Our site’s “look and feel has been a bit … inconsistent.”

Autocomplete feature on queries. Search results “cleaner and better.” “Site is much neater and more consistent.”

New item page has big, pretty photo.

“Path to purchase is neater and cleaner.” Checkout process smoothed out, as well. Four steps now shrunk to one, etc.

Here comes “the most exciting innovation” we’ll see today.

“Today, we introduce the feed. It lends the technology of search with the inspiration of browsing.”

So, basically, it sounds like they’re catching up to the social shopping sites that have sprung up in the last few years. Related: They just bought one of them: Svpply.

Yup, kinda Pinteresty, kinda The Fancy-y. We’ll have pix for you eventually. Meantime, this will give you an idea.

EBay will autopopulate your page based on previous purchases (searches, too?), and you can tweak it by following “interests.”

Rolling out on homepage in U.S. in the next 100 days. Rest of the world over the next year.

“The rest of the road map is even more exciting.” For instance, it will become more social. And will look awesome on the iPad, etc.

Back to Devin Wenig.

Wrapping it up.

To sum up:

  • eBay is totally into mobile.
  • eBay has a new Web site, with a cleaner look.
  • eBay has formally unveiled its same-day shopping service, but it appears that it’s still limited to SF-only. (Will confirm).
  • eBay is totally into mobile.

Video: Old punk sells his vinyl to hipster d-bag.

D-bag helps some other kid figure out how to fix vintage car.

Empty-nester is into Pilates.

High-school girl buys some shoes, hopes they finally convince dude to pay attention to her.

Okay, lights up, we’re done.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo