eBay’s Harassment Campaign Didn’t Happen in a Vacuum

And this week, when the United States authorities filed a person of most damning indictments in the heritage of Silicon Valley against eBay’s now-former officers, the company’s only remark was an unsigned four-paragraph assertion distancing by itself from the functions of its officers. Its apology to the people today whose lives it attempted to damage appeared midway via the third paragraph, apparently not even well worth a subject sentence.

Not a person member of the board spoke about this in public. Between the silent ended up board chair Thomas Tierney and administrators like Lyft CEO Logan Environmentally friendly and Intel CEO Bob Swan. Not even eBay founder Pierre Omidyar spoke up, although his identify is the a person most intently involved with the company. (My makes an attempt to get remarks from these administrators ended up fruitless.)

In April of this yr, eBay brought on a new CEO: Jamie Iannone, a former WalMart govt. Iannone experienced a few months to get ready for what may have been the most critical working day in his job. But his plan on the working day of the indictment appeared to aim on sheltering in spot. No individual information of corporate remorse. No guarantee to work tirelessly to protect against anything at all like this from reoccurring. Reporters in search of remark ended up directed to the unsigned assertion. (To be honest, eBay’s senior VP of North America, Jordan Sweetnam, did address the challenge in a public website.) I did deal with to get corporate communications head Tina Somera to give me a assertion in her identify:

These actions and conclusions presented yesterday are not consultant of eBay’s values or our culture. It should really be famous that this incident involved a compact group of employees it was an aberrational incident involving unacceptable perform and eBay took swift motion as soon as it was brought to our awareness.

In his latest e book, undertaking capitalist Ben Horowitz, has some wise and effectively-educated remarks on corporate culture (that is, when he’s not extolling the virtues of Genghis Khan or prison gang leaders). He observes that the indicators are sent from the prime and internalized through the organization. “Your culture is how your company helps make selections when you’re not there,” he writes. “It’s the set of assumptions your employees use to take care of the difficulties they confront every working day. It’s how they behave when no a person is looking.” The eBay officers billed with criminal perform did not execute their options in a vacuum. Though they comprehended that they experienced to perform their revolting options in secret, they did it as portion of their employment. No a person in their circle stood up to say, “What the hell are we doing? This is eBay, not the KGB!”

In my practical experience, any time everyone claims, “This is not who we are,” they are actually objecting to the exposure of a portion of their mother nature that they would alternatively not acknowledge to. Horowitz set it additional succinctly, correct in the title of his e book: What You Do Is Who You Are. We acquired this week who eBay is.

Time Vacation

I wrote about eBay in my 1999 Newsweek dive into ecommerce business designs, speaking about how then-CEO Meg Whitman tweaked business tactics immediately after taking around from founder Pierre Omidyar. She, also, was the goal of pesky commenters on the world-wide-web, but by some means she refrained from sending stay cockroaches to their doorsteps: