eBay Has Fleas

Well, not really, but it makes a great title.

I learned this verse as a very small child, it amused my father and was an introduction into the concept of infinity which is a very difficult thought for a child to absorb.

“Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ‘em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum”

Let’s start at the beginning of our flea hunt.

Credit where it is due: thank you my friend, who shall remain anonymous, for the tip.

According to this April 2nd 2008 press release Alan Marks joined eBay as Senior VP of Corporate Communications. That makes him Usher Lieberman’s boss. Behind the scenes ruler of the smoke and spin department, master of the ‘never use a few words to say nothing when you can use many words to attain the same zero content’ technique.

Mr Marks came to my attention October 8th 2008 when Valleywag published his 1078 word memo in which he coined the term ’simplification’ to use instead of the “L” word. Corporate communications laid off 15 lower level employees and started the hiring process for more senior and mid level ‘leadership positions’ . Here is the list:

  • VP, Corporate Communications
  • VP, Marketplaces Communications
  • Senior Director, Corporate Communications
  • PR Specialist, Corporate Communications
  • Manager, employee communications, corporate
  • Manager, employee communications, NA Marketplaces
  • Manager, employee communications, NA Marketplaces
  • Manager, Global Citizenship communications

More highly paid officers and less soldiers is always an efficient management pratice when empire building. Maybe not so much when you actually intend to get things done, but then one can always outsource the donkey work overseas. Actually being able to communicate with your customers rather than read off a prepared script is not a high priority to eBay, but I digress.

Onward to November 13th 2008

Our friend Usher Lieberman sends out a press release to promote the official celebration of megaseller Jack Sheng’s achievement of one million feedback with four separate seller IDs and concurrently the debut of two new exciting eBay feedback stars; one of which was immortalized by Sue Bailey of TameBay as the sweaty star.This event starring John Donohoe was covered by Richard Brewer-Hay on eBayInkBlog with lots of lovely pictures. Do tell. who had the idea of the frog spawn archway? But I digress, yet again. Scroll down to the bottom of the press release. There is Ushers contact information. Scroll down a bit more, an alternate contact.

Who or what is Kaplow?

Kaplow is a relatively small, discreet, high powered, boutique (probably expensive) public relations company based in New York with some very prestigious clients, including Skype and eBay.

The question I have is why does eBay need an outside PR firm when they have an entire in house 100 person (more or less) division including the ineffable (pardon the pun) Usher “Noise” Lieberman?

Kaplow’s association with eBay is not new, it goes back nine years and you can read all about it here and in eBayInsider Blogs. It appears that like eBay’s lab created Diamond PowerSellers, “lifestyle gurus” on eBay at least are manufactured, not organic. What a shocking revelation!

Y’all come back!



  1. If only my kids hung on my every word as earnestly as you do Henrietta…but then I’d have to deal with their biting sarcasm as well. Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. I think you are missing the point Usher, it is what you do not say that counts.

    So far as your children, give them time, when horror-mones and pooperty appear you will have to deal with verbal pinpricks at home too.

    Please accept my best wishes for a lovely Thanksgiving too.

  3. But Usher

    Your “kids” do hang on your every word - in addition to your 85 million eBay kids who rely on you for their pocket money and morals, there are also their cousins “pressing” for quotes to publish for their “kids” - the many millions more who read their daily advice in media on and offline.

    With such an extended family digesting your wisdom, is it any wonder that so many tantrums are thrown when your parental guidance does not match with reality, or are you trying to “usher” in a new age of “Do as I say, not what I know” teaching?


  4. Was the Usher Lieberman post above made by ebay spokesman Usher Lieberman or was it his doppelganger, Usher Lieberman speaking but not speaking as ebay spokesman?

    Maybe it was just an ad hominem attack on Henrietta to blow smoke, to avoid addressing the content of her post. Makes you think she may have hit a nerve.

    Who hires people like this? More importantly, who allows them to stay hired?

    Ebay! That’s who.

  5. Diamond it wasn’t an attack! LOL
    It was a snippy remark and I am happy that a little old lady ex-eBay seller like me got a response.

  6. Good post, I like your writing style! I’ve added http://200westmain.com/redinkdiary/ to my feed reader, and will be reading your posts from now on. Just a quick question - did you design your header image yourself, or have it done professionally? If you had it done by a professional, who was it?

  7. I would be happy to give you the name of the person who designed the header at 200 West Main but that would require a valid email address.

  8. [...] week started with a great bit or archival journalism by Henrietta over at RedInkDiary in which she exposed eBay’s PR department moving from a “We can do it” balanced staff of chiefs and indians, to an all-management [...]

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