They keynote speech kicked off in spectacular style with the much awaited live debut of Twisted Lister – eBay’s very own band. Bryan Wright, Steve Corral, Steve Slater, Brandon Jones, and Domenic Paolo are eBay employees by day and musicians by night. They entertained the audience while they took their seats, which took some time as thousands entered the auditorium. Between songs there were drummers and acrobats on jumping stilts.
Griff – Jim Griffith, Dean of eBay University, was there to entertain the audience with his repertoire of eBay stories, and sallied forth into the audience for ad hoc interviews with unsuspecting eBayers. With his silver sequined jacket he is every bit the loveable rogue as he purposefully picked those who looked most camera shy to talk to. Those cornered found themselves filmed live on screens to make sure no matter where you were seated you could see the action.
Griff then introduced eBay CEO Meg Whitman for her keynote speech. Meg covered many topics with the message that eBay is no longer just about buying and selling. eBay aims to be enable fun engaging transactions and communications around the globe. From Finding, Buying, Paying, Communicating and Entertaining many of the building blocks are already in place. Meg also introduced Kristen Cunningham from eBay Giving Works (eBay for Charity in the UK). Kristen has over seen eBay’s charity work for five years and they recently reached the milestone of $100 million funds raised worldwide for charities. The auction which tipped the $100 million balance was a cat painting by artist Sandy Byers who donated 50% to a cat shelter. Kristen explained charity auctions get more views, more bids and better final value prices that non-charity listings.
Meg also mentioned the Webby that the eBay community was awarded and of course couldn’t resist talking about feedback. Present in the auditorium was 6.1 million feedback if you added up the thousands of eBayers present. Meg also introduced Pierre Omidyar who is attending eBay Live! this year, along with a mention for John Donahoe who is not taking an active part in the Keynote speeches. Mentioning John is significant, raising his profile as he works very much behind the scenes and is seen as investor friendly rather than community facing.