At the end of July we received an exciting e-mail. eBay was going to be hosting an event in San Jose. It was announced as a 20th Anniversary Celebration. Very few details were available. We didn’t really know what the event was going to be. But we knew one thing – we had to be there. Our business started with a single sale on eBay and we have been proud to serve and be part of the eBay community since 1999. There have been countless changes through the years – some good, some not so good. One thing that has never changed though is our love and appreciation for the fantastic people we have met on this journey. Some of them we only know through virtual contact. Others we have had the good fortune to meet through our local meet-up group and through earlier eBay events – the over-the-top amazingly awesome eBay Live events (the last one was in Chicago in 2008), the more toned down eBay on Locations and the even smaller but still fun and useful eBay In Person events where a couple of eBay employees were sent out to meet with local seller groups. Throughout the years we have attended many of these events all over the country. Each one was a chance to meet or re-connect with fellow sellers, new and potential customers and knowledgeable eBay staff.
It took about 10 minutes after we received the e-mail to make the decision. Ebay is having a celebration. We’re going to be there. Timing was not the best for us. September is when our business starts to ramp up every year. We would have to miss two days of work in a potentially very busy week that was already a shortened because of Labor Day. Even worse, the Thursday and Friday we would be away immediately preceded the Monday and Tuesday that we were going to be off for religious holidays. Oy! But somehow we knew we had to make it work. Before we had any idea of what exactly this event was going to be we purchased our tickets and made travel arrangements. With excitement we scouted out all of the familiar Facebook pages where our eCommerce friends hang out and kept refreshing to see who was going to be joining us.
We did as much pre-planning as we could, making sure we had staff available to ship in our absence, neighbors to help unload any trucks that arrived when our shipper was unavailable and working interfaces to connect us to our office computers while on the road. We spent almost all of the Labor Day weekend and Tuesday and Wednesday shipping out a huge number of items and pulling together as many loose ends as possible.
By the time we got on the plane on Wednesday night we were exhausted but so excited. We arrived in San Jose late Wednesday night, but not too late to catch the end of a great pre-event party sponsored by Worthpoint and organized by some of our friends. What a wonderful reunion. In honor of eBay’s 20th Anniversary, the party had a Roaring 20s theme. The guy in red and white (below) is Rich Siok, the head of our local Chicagoland seller’s meet-up . We donated Bubblefast gift certificates to be given as raffle prizes and along with Rich and his wife Nila, got the chance to sneak in a quick plug for eCom Chicago, our upcoming sellers conference
After the party ended we were too tired to trek back to the hotel so we had our first ever Uber experience. So easy, fast and inexpensive. Loved it!
Up bright and early Thursday morning for a VIP breakfast. Got to greet many friends/colleagues we had missed at the party. While enjoying our meal we had the opportunity to meet with several high ranking eBay execs. We learned a little about each of them and their position in the company, heard anecdotes about their latest personal eBay sales, and also got to introduce ourselves and ask questions.
Had time for a short break after breakfast to sneak up to our hotel room to do some actual Bubblefast work (trusty laptops connecting to the office computers to print the labels DaMori (our shipper) was waiting for).
Then – down for the main event. We joined around 2000 people in a large room in the San Jose Convention Center to hear highlights of the upcoming changes for Sellers. We were welcomed by eBay’s new CEO, Devin Wenig who outlined the new changes coming to the eBay site. (Click here) to hear the keynote and many of the other great speakers.) All were very well received. With this new seller release many of what we saw as eBay “mis-steps” are being corrected. Highlights of the changes include a more streamlined, flexible returns process and a free one-stop shop Seller Hub for all seller activities including new access to valuable metrics and insights. Even more exciting, a reversal of many of the “punishments” sellers have had to endure for subjective feedback and a release from being held accountable for items outside of sellers’ control. All really good news. With a new captain at the helm it definitely seems like waters will be less choppy for eBay sellers.
At the end of the presentations Devin Wenig came back to introduce a very special surprise guest – eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. The highlight of the interview was the surprise Devin had for Pierre ( http://pages.ebay.com/weare20/video.html . eBay staff had managed to hunt down the very first item ever sold on eBay – Pierre’s broken laser pointer. We got to see a video of the retired Canadian gentleman who bought it, and hear his story. The punchline was that eBay had managed to re-purchase the laser pointer and planned to give it back to Pierre. Without that little broken laser pointer, none of us in the room would have gotten to the place we are today. What a cool moment for us all to experience.
So, already pumped up from the positive announcements and the awesome moment with Pierre, we all left the room to a wonderful experience. A fabulous eBay tradition of eBay Lives of the past was recreated – the famous clapping tunnel. Our route to the party was lined by a two seemingly unending rows of eBay employees all giving us a standing ovation as we walked through the “human tunnel”. What an amazing feeling of being appreciated. Goosebumps, tears, delight. And confetti. Here’s a little taste of the experience.
And then the party. eBay knows how to throw a party. Tons of food stations, free bar, main stage music, strolling performing artists, sketch artists, eBay swag, more confetti – and a room packed full of some of our favorite e-Commerce friends. Just wow!!
After the party we hung out with friends for a while to unwind, then back to our room to do some more work until late into the night. (Not much sleep on these trips!)
Friday morning – day two of the conference. The day started with another VIP breakfast. After breakfast we had time to do a bit of work before the kick-off session. After a moment of silence to honor the memory of 9/11, we saw several great eBay videos. Here is one of the best ones: Our Story: We are eBay https://youtu.be/oFexG37TbU8
After the opening session the rest of the day was a day of learning. eBay staff and execs were available to answer questions. Workshops were available for those who wanted to delve into any particular aspect of the upcoming changes. Mark and I split up for most of these. Mark was asked to be in a video talking about our eBay experience. I was part of group called Co-create where a small group of sellers met with eBay designers to explore new possibilities for the future of the eBay Mobile app.
We checked out the main conference room to chat with execs and eBay staff and to network with fellow sellers we hadn’t yet had a chance to connect with.
After the workshops and meet and greet we headed back to our room to do some Bubblefast work. A short break because I had to get ready for my moment in the spotlight. I had the honor of being one of the guests on a Seller Panel. This was a great experience. I sat on a panel with 3 other awesome eBay sellers. We introduced ourselves and answered questions from the moderator and the audience. The workshop was standing room only and had great participation.
After the seller panel wrapped up it was time to once again head to the main floor to meet with execs, enjoy more food and drink and hear Devin Wenig give the conference wrap-up.
What a fantastic event. An amazing inspirational super-energy charged couple of days. We left with very positive thoughts about the direction eBay is headed, pride in being part of this great community and great enthusiasm to get home and get back to listing and selling.
The event was over but our trip extended a bit longer. Friday night after finishing our work we headed down to the hotel bar where a group of our friends was unwinding with a raucous game of Cards Against Humanity (my first time playing-definitely not for the sqeamish). Yikes!
After the game Mark and I headed outside (our first fresh air of the trip) to wander the streets of San Jose. We enjoyed a quiet dinner together which was a great time to reflect on the trip.
We stayed in town one extra day and had an actual extremely rare vacation day. Along with our friends Rich and Nila, we took the Caltrain to San Francisco and had photo opportunities at AT&T Park (home of the San Francisco Giants) and a beautiful day exploring Fisherman’s Wharf.
Didn’t have a FitBit on but it felt like we did about a billion steps. Took Uber back to the train and ordered a pizza up to the room. Did more work. Sunday morning 4:15 AM wake up for our 5:15 limo.
Made it back home safe and sound – just in time to make holiday dinner before heading to religious services.
Whew! What a whirlwind. Thank you so much to eBay for creating the platform that enabled us to be part of this community, for inviting us to participate in and for putting together this wonderful event and to all of our wonderful seller friends who were able to share the experience with us.
Thoroughly exhausting – but can’t wait til the next one…………………