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What "It" Is eBay Wants

Acrobats and an Elvis impersonator warmed up the eBay crowd at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Thursday for the Baby Boomer-era rock concert by Huey Lewis & the News. The gala dinner concert was a fitting end to the fifth-annual "eBay Live" convention aimed mostly at people who sell on the sprawling online marketplace.

Singer Huey Lewis provided the entertainment as "eBay Live" drew to a close. (Leslie Walker-The Washington Post)

At its convention, eBay chief executive Meg Whitman announced the site had registered its 200 millionth user. And though growth is slowing, trade on eBay is vast and getting bigger every day--more than $44 billion worth of goods changed hands on the site last year. That would make it the world's 11th-largest retailer if eBay actually owned the inventory instead of merely charging sales fees, said Whitman.

While eBay is best known for its auction format, more than a third of its sales volume now occurs in fixed-price format. And that is likely to expand even more, thanks to the new "eBay Express" site focused on new merchandise sold at fixed prices, which eBay officially launched this week after two months of testing. EBay said it would launch a major national ad campaign touting eBay Express this fall, along with the "it" theme (people can find whatever "it" is they want on eBay) introduced in commercials last year.

Whatever "it" is eBay really wants, however, remains a tad fuzzy even after the extravaganza held here. EBay execs made a point of saying auctions remain the core DNA of the company, but eBay clearly is morphing into a new kind of e-commerce company as it strikes out in many new directions at once.

Acrobats and an Elvis impersonator warmed up the crowd. (Leslie Walker-The Washington Post)

Next year, "eBay Live" will be in Boston, the company announced last night. By then, there is simply no telling what eBay might look like.

(Leslie Walker welcomes your email feedback at leslie @ )

By Leslie Walker  |  June 16, 2006; 1:51 AM ET  | Category:  EBay Live , Leslie Walker
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I took a riff yesterday, on what eBay is doing ...

Thursday, June 15, 2006
Top Ten Cloves: Possible Problems For eBay With Adding Telephone Service For Their Buyers and Sellers


Posted by: J. Thomas Duffy | June 16, 2006 9:04 AM

Thanks for the series! It was fun to read, even if I couldn't come up with anything to post.

Posted by: Ebayer | June 16, 2006 11:48 AM

11 days of eBay entries and only 21 comments....I think you have over cooked the eBay articles. Enough already!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 12:44 PM

One thing that was overlooked in the article, many folks had to sit on the concrete floor to eat their dinner!

found out from security that the reason was that they only had seating for 8,000, even though over 15,000 people paid to go to live!

between the food being cold and having to sit on the floor to eat, was the absolute worst dinner event i've ever attended (and i've been to some pretty lousy ones).

Posted by: tulsaguy | June 17, 2006 7:30 AM

They only had seating for 8,000 because of the fire marshal, not eBay. If you want to get mad at someone, get mad at him.

And please, you paid $50 for a 3 day conference, with 7 buffets at the end and live entertainment. 15,000 people were there - did you expect there'd be no lines? So what if you had to sit on the floor - we did earlier in the week and could have cared less.

Posted by: Columbia | June 19, 2006 9:57 AM

I spoke to people with the Fire Marshall's office prior to the event. They permitted only 3200 seats in the hall with an additional 6000 admitted for a total of 9,000. Mandalay Bay had no more room for anything as they were hosting 2 conventions at the same time. When eBay contracted for the space, the estimates for attendance were lower than what was actual and once Mandalay rented the additional space to another convention nothing could be done.

I was at the Gala, was in line for 90 minutes and got a seat. During the course of the dinner seats opened up at our table and many others as people came and went, for the most part these seats remained empty.

As for the meal, we have had many lousy and many great dinners and events, and our food was hot, delicious, and plenty of it. For heaven's sake, quilt whining. The 4 days of this conference cost $50....same price as most buffets in consider the value received.

Posted by: Susan Gearing | June 19, 2006 1:37 PM

actually, it was coordination problems between ebay and mandalay both. both are to blame for having to sit on floor.

your food was hot? you were lucky i guess. mine sure wasnt.

as for $50 for conference and dinner. yeah, good price. but that doesnt mean that cold food and having to sit on the floor is acceptable.

Posted by: tulsaguy | June 19, 2006 1:51 PM

Don't see how yours was cold as they had sterno going under all the buffet dishes all night.

Posted by: Susan Gearing | June 19, 2006 2:13 PM

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