It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge how screwed up you are, eBay. I applaud you. But one problem: the same way that AltaVista couldn’t be a search engine and a content portal and an everything-else, neither can eBay effectively be a collector’s site and an online store hoster and an average Joe’s auction source (amongst about 1000 other things that eBay currently “is”). Complexity is inherently part of their scope, and I’m not sure that adding a social networking layer and mobile apps is the solution to that.
If eBay is trying to figure out what happened to the wind in its sales (sic), they might want to take a look at the Etsy and edgeio traffic growth over the last year. Those several hundred percent growth rates are being reaped by sites that understand how to do one thing really well, rather than doing everything mostly OK.
I’ll be frank here that sometimes I wonder whether being in the same market as the Internet’s fourth-largest site was a good choice for my first true, large-scale business. I have to think that there are businesses out there that don’t have to constantly look over their shoulder at what is being done by the several-billion-dollar behemoth. But at the same time, we are jabbing a target so large that it takes years to swing back, if it even notices it was hit. For those that get to help build our alpha into a beta version starting next month, you will see a creative market opportunity that wedges between the cracks a giant can’t fit into.