Zlango Scares Me

Zlango just announced money from major hitters today - Benchmark and Accel. I would like to pretend that I’m cool and in with the crowd but I dont get it ... I would like to think that if one of these stuffy old guys would “get it”, it would be me. But nope, not me ... I see that its fun, but I cant wrap my heads around $12M or an NPV model that justify the pre-money.

Back in the pager days I used pager codes. I used to type in alternating caps. I used to replace all my “s’s” with “z’s.” I had a low hundred digit ICQ account (probably by coincidence). I love my emoticons. I was on Asian Avenue before Tom ripped it off to create myspace.

still... I dont get it... and it scares me. These guys are smart, they are Israeli, they have to be :) ... Benchmark and Accel are the best. Today, for the first time in my life, I feel too old rather than too young ... (I’m still waiting on feeling just right). I’m gonna go feed my neopet now ...

eBay Goes “web 2.0″ starting with Motors

For centuries (ok fine, atleast a decade) people (especially non-users) has been complaining bitterly about the way eBay looks (circa 1994) and works (pages of scrolling, no javascript what-so-ever). In the last 3 years as the web world went “2.0″ ga-ga the complaints has only gotten louder. One might even call eBay “Ghetto Fabulous” But the truth is that eBay grew and grew despite, and probably because, of all the quirks of the website. (case study #2, myspace).

Well, the launch of eBay Express last year gave hints to what is to come for eBay.com. And the recent (I just stumbled on it, but I think it launched last night on the 23rd) revamp of eBay Motors officially begins the march of eBay.com towards the so called web 2.0 era. Since the new interface is still in A/B testing (not everyone gets it when they login), you can get a quick education of whats new at eBay Motors 2.0 at eBay University. A lot of the new changes are born of technology first created for eBay Express and other initiatives. But the integration of all these features truly points to the fact that this is the LARGEST and most IMPORTANT revamp of eBay Motors in the history of the company.

Here are just some of the new changes:

1) Web 2.0 fonts (bigger), color (brighter), and layout (rounded edges) ... oh ya... AJAX (I pray one day people would stop associating AJAX with web 2.0)

2) Moving up the life cycle of commerce from transaction consumation up stream into research (eBay used to be much more focused on the transaction it self rather than decision making)

- Product reviews are front and center

- additional licensed content from KBB, carfax and more

3) A product architecture & ontology

- listings are now grouped under a product concept (all acura TL’s are associated as the same model type)

- attributes are extrated from each listing

- cross model navigation - for example coupe, 2 doors, SUV

4) New search engine - obviously related to (3) and very much looking like eBay Express

5) New emphasis on local searches and e-commerce (this is a new market eBay did not participate in pro-actively untill recently)

As I always said, “better” doesnt always mean “better” ... users are creatures of habit, and an “implied social contracts” drives the interaction between a company’s website and its users. For example, conversion rate goes up when Google simplifies its homepage but down when Amazon simplifies theirs; given huge overlap in userbased, there is no way to predict actual user behavior by blindly following any mantra (2.0 or not). And thus, the only way is to test repeatedly and slowly roll out any changes. Make no doubts about it, any small percentage change in conversion rate will impact the bottomline. This revamp is a neccessary and inevitable for eBay (in search of growth and fending off new competition), but it is a gamble nonetheless ...

If all goes well (it should as the new site is amazing, my opinion) looks for rest of eBay to move in this direction in the next 12-24 month.