eBay streamlines senior management

No primary category set
don't you think she looks tired
Dinesh Lathi, Laurie Norrington, Stephanie Tilenius
@ eBay Live, Chicago 2008

eBay Ink has posted an announcement of changes at the top for eBay. Stephanie Tilenius is stepping down from her current role as head of global product and North America and will be leaving the company in early 2010. She’ll be acting as advisor to eBay CEO John Donahoe in the interim.

There will be no direct replacement for Stephanie: the announcement says this is “a move she recommended to further streamline and simplify eBay’s management structure”. Lorrie Norrington assumes responsiblity for North America in addition to her current position as global head of Marketplaces.

In addition, Dinesh Lathi, currently the VP of Seller Experience, is to lead a newly combined buyer and seller team, and Mark Carges, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, will head a technology and product team.

This is sure to raise some questions about exactly what’s going on at the top of eBay. I have no insider knowledge, but I’ve read a lot of eBay personnel change announcements, and this one is oddly defensive in tone. Stephanie’s vague interim role looks like giving her time to find a new job – she wants “to lead a company as CEO” – which will inevitably cause speculation as to whether she jumped, or was pushed. My guess, for what it’s worth, is that this is all about streamlining, just as we saw last year in Europe and Vancouver in May.

Though I’d see the amalgamation of the buyer and seller teams as part of that streamlining process, this could be good news for eBay users. Seeing buyers and sellers as opposed to one another has long caused problems on eBay, from horribly named “disputes” over cancelled transactions, to some automatic assumptions by eBay policy makers that sellers are always, in any dispute, automatically in the wrong. Combining the two teams might indeed “optimize [eBay’s] end-to-end customer experience”.

More telling, perhaps, is Stephanie’s own statement: “she felt that with eBay’s turnaround under way, now was the right time for her to pursue other career ambitions […] she believes eBay’s best days are still ahead.” eBay’s management believe the company is on the path they want it to be on, and they’re sticking with it.



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