@Web 2.0: Whitman: PayPal Could Be Your Web Identity

Entertainment Media Works CTO Alberto Escarlate, our scribe in San Francisco, files these notes from eBay CEO Meg Whitman’s Web 2.0 Q&A with Tim O’Reilly:

Business slowdown:
Key metric is the GMV (gross merchandise volume) which is still very healthy. Casual sellers represent 90% of all sellers and generate 50% of GMV. We had a small uptick Q3 over Q2. We’re in the process of reinvention and we’ve made more changes to our Web site in the last 3 months than we had in the last 4 years. Working hard on recreating the searching and buying metaphor.

Do you use eBay?
Best thing she sold was a pair of Mickey Mouse skis bought at Disney.

Future of PayPal:
According to Meg it’s been a very successful acquisition and the “future is very bright.” In five years since acquisition, PayPal-powered auctions have increased from 15% to 90%.

Is there a hidden social-networking play in PayPal?
PayPal could move from becoming your wallet on the Web to your identity/reputation — the data is there. “I think there’s a huge opportunity but we need to be very careful mixing identity and reputation.” Privacy and access issues need to be considered. (More…)

Related: SAI Web 2.0 Summit Coverage, eBay Q3 Earnings Analysis, SAI eBay Coverage

Law enforcement:
eBay hires lots of former FBI employees to help find the illegal transactions. People are basically good, the vast majority try to do the right things. eBay has developed expertise (fraud modelling techniques) to help fight the bad guys. eBay has to stay ahead of the curve.

Merge with Yahoo!:
She’s close to Jerry Yang and talks to him frequently but there’s so much to focus on dealing with eBay, Skype and PayPal.

Skype has huge potential. Need to focus in delighting the users with a brand new version coming soon. Earnout created some negative incentives that took the focus away from innovation. Looking for a CEO. MySpace deal is not exclusive.

Brooklyn’s Etsy:
Cute little company. We have to make sure we can do everything we can to invite these sellers to eBay. eBay is more than buying and selling but also about community and social commerce.

Women in hi-tech:
There’s a disparity in all levels. Over time there will be an increase of women coming out of universities with engineering degrees.

Internet sales tax:
If the tax system was simple there would not be an impact in e-commerce. Too many complexities will make it hard to implement.

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