Corporate Paranoia Gone Crazy

A long time ago, I sold some things on Ebay to make some extra money. I went around to tag sales and spotted things that I thought would sell and learned quite a few things about marketing and selling. One thing I never considered was that Ebay was essentially immoral until this recently appeared. Apparently some people at the top of Ebay decided to go after a couple that produced a newsletter for online sellers. Go after in the worst possible way.

Here is the gist of the story from the Associated Press:

This was a determined, systematic effort by senior employees of a major company to destroy the lives of a couple in Natick all because they published content that company executives didn’t like. For a while they succeeded, psychologically devastating these victims for weeks as they desperately tried to figure out what was going on and stop it,” Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told reporters.

James Baugh, of San Jose, California, who was eBay’s senior director of safety & security, and David Harville, of New York City, who was eBay’s director of global resiliency, are charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. The other former eBay employees charged are Stephanie Popp, former senior manager of global intelligence; Brian Gilbert, former senior manager of special operations for eBay’s Global Security Team; Stephanie Stockwell, former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center; and Veronica Zea, a former eBay contractor who worked as an intelligence analyst in the Global Intelligence Center.

There were no lawyers listed for them in court documents.

Court documents detail how two members of the company’s executive leadership team orchestrated a plot to go after the couple after the newsletter published an article in August 2019 about a lawsuit filed by eBay accusing Amazon of poaching its sellers. The article also discussed an executive, referred only in court documents as “Executive 1,” according to court documents.

A half hour after the article was published, “Executive 1” texted another executive, identified as “Executive 2”: “(Victim 1) is out with a hot piece on the litigation. If you are ever going to take her is the time,” according to court documents.

An online article with the same headline as the one described in court documents shows the person described as “Executive 1” as eBay’s CEO, who was then Devin Wenig.

Wenig stepped down in September and is not charged in the case. On Monday, a person who answered at a phone number listed for Wenig said “we’re not interested,” before hanging up.

Local news had the story as well.

Apparently this is the site that had the executives at Ebay all upset.

EcommerceBytes – The leader of ecommerce news and information for online sellers.

This is the article in question that caused the idiots to haul out the Ebay espionage team and use tactics worthy of a cold war KGB active measure operation.

A word to the idiots at Ebay. The sellers on your platform are not your personal property and Amazon has every right to go to them and tell them that Amazon can offer better services. If your company is losing sellers and business, perhaps the people in the corner office and c-suite should look at how you all have treated sellers for a very long time.

Here’s a clue. I don’t think that any seller would say that Ebay treated them properly. The dissatisfaction with your company as a marketplace is deep and has been for a very long time. I no longer sell on Ebay, but the issues were there when I was selling and nothing I have seen since says that the people in the corner office had done anything to change.

Instead, of actually looking at the real problems, the executives at Ebay decided to act as if they were the KGB. Maybe the bosses thought that they were glorious leaders in an old Soviet or something. Here’s a clue. harassing somebody for posting something about a lawsuit that you filed with just a little commentary and some comments is just plain stupid. If Amazon is “poaching,” then the problem is yours, not some ecommerce blog.

Instead of harassing people, wouldn’t it make more sense to enact policies to say, make handling complaint more transparent and providing a means of contact to resolve issues that can’t be resolved on a form? Some sort of quick action system and feedback would be much easier than filing lawsuits over a competitor “poaching” by providing better services. The fact is that Ebay made it rather difficult and for the seller, is rather opaque when things went wrong. Ebay also makes no significant effort to make sure that changes in policy were known and carries out those changes with a heavy hand.

In any case, Ebay and the other tech companies should understand that they are not invulnerable to the law of economics. If you abuse the people on your platforms long enough and hard enough, they will go away and you will lose your sellers and content producers and eventually your business.


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