Big changes with the eBay search team – there’s a new Sheriff in town.

June 25, 2009

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor
Outgoing Sheriff – Jamie Ionnone
New Sheriff – Hugh Williams

I’ve been pretty vocal that while the recent eBay changes are in the right direction, I don’t think they nailing the top 20 priorities.  Everyone always asks, what do you think the top priorities are?  My answer for the last 2yrs+ has been: search, search, search, search.

A core part of my ‘A new hope for eBay / eBay 2.0’ thesis was that the search needs a major overhaul and pretty much everyone agrees that the current eBay search experience is pretty much very broken (We did an internal meeting on this and came up with the top 10 things wrong with eBay search – if time allows, I’ll have to post that as it’s pretty interesting/scary when you really dig into this topic).
The first glimmer of hope for eBay’s search woes came earlier this year when eBay acquired a little startup that was led by some ex Amazon/Microsoft search gurus including Chris Payne.
Today we’re getting news of many more changes with the eBay search team:
  • First, Jamie Iannone, eBay’s VP of Search, has been hired by Barnes and Noble to run their ecommerce group.  This seems to have caused a cascade effect.
    • I’ve met Jamie numerous times and was a big fan. He was the driving force behind eBay Express which I actually think we will see eBay turn into slowly over the next couple of years.   It’s a loss to eBay to see him go, but like many larger companies, sometimes its hard to have the kind of impact you want to as your tenure increases and I’m sure he’s looking forward to a new opportunity – I wish him the best of luck at Barnes and Noble.
  • Second, news has leaked out that Hugh Williams has joined eBay as VP of Search to backfill Iannone.  Hugh was a Partner (MSFT for ‘very senior’) developer manager of a piece of the new Bing search engine at Microsoft.  Hugh is an Aussie that appears to have been pretty darn active as there’s a good bit of information out there about him online. For those that want to learn more about the new grand pooba of eBay search:
    • Linkedin profile is here 
    • Facebook is here 
    • Twitter is here –
    • He has co-authored two books – both about mysql – wonder how he will like the eBay massive oracle infrastructure?
      • You have to keep an eye on these book authors – lots of hot air 😉
    • His personal website is here
    • CV/Resume is here
    • Here’s a podcast of him talking about Live/Bing.
    • And for my uber-geek readers, here’s an ACM paper he wrote on the efficient online index maintenance for contiguous inverted lists (I was wondering about this problem just the other day 😉
    • He’s in this microsoft research video.

The bottom line is there’s a new sheriff in town for eBay Search and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he has going forward.  Also, is it too little too late?

SeekingAlpha Disclosure- I am long Amazon and Google.  eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor