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June 1, 2001 Vol. 56 No. 10 Back to Bulletin Main Page

eBay, the Power of Brands and the Internet

“Anyone who believes that the Internet is dead is short-sighted,” said eBay President and CEO Meg Whitman, during her keynote presentation on Sunday, May 6.

Throughout the presentation Ms. Whitman supported this statement with numerous statistics that flew in the face of media pessimism regarding Internet-based businesses.

“A brand really delivers a promise that you will get the quality, reliability, and commitment that you would expect for that brand. This has not changed with the onset of Internet-based businesses,” said Ms. Whitman.

She explained that even though Internet businesses may be currently slowing down, past trends have shown that popular items in the marketplace all have gone through a temporary slump before being carried by a few successful businesses.

According to a study done by Morgan Freeman, estimates show that Internet users will increase by 23 percent annually over the next decade.

In fact, according to Ms. Whitman, one of the major impediments to current expansion is expensive broadband technology. Once broadband usage is available to everyone at an economical price, it will transform e-commerce.

“Once this happens,” asked Ms. Whitman, “who will the winners be?” Her answer divided companies into two camps: companies that are not Internet-based but successfully use it as a medium for sales, and solely Internet-supported companies, such as e-Bay, that would not survive without the Internet.

Ms. Whitman maintained that e-Bay has not only survived but become a house-hold name because the company has developed a unique customer-based relationship with users. “Our success depends entirely on enabling our users to buy and sell goods around the world,” said Ms. Whitman. Of particular interest are ICANN’s TLD protection measures and the United States joining the Madrid Protocol. Ms. Whitman believes that these initiatives will eventually facilitate the brand protection of Internet-based businesses.

“We look forward to the day when all rights holders can have this protection,” said Ms. Whitman.


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