Shameless Plug: A Great Search on eBay Express

First and foremost, please remember, I am extremely biased.   As I have explained in previous posts, I run the Product Management team responsible for eBay’s newest specialty site:

eBay Express

But when you work harder than you ever have in your life on a new product, or in this case, a new website, it’s hard not to brag a little when you see something wonderful.

Last week, my wife was shopping for double strollers.  After researching the subject, she decided that she really like the “E3” brand of strollers.  She asks me, “Do you think there are E3 strollers on eBay Express?”

So she goes to the eBay Express homepage, and types “E3 Stroller” into the search box.  This is what she sees:

“E3 Stroller” on eBay Express

(10/22 Update: The liabilities of a dynamic marketplace… I’ve been alerted that there is no E3 Stroller inventory right now! I think you can see what I’m talking about just searching for Strollers in general).

Wow.  What a gorgeous page.  What a nice selection of colors and sizes.  Great prices and great brand-new products from great eBay sellers.

An amazing amount of incredible technology and innovation went into the new search engine for eBay Express.   But even though I know in detail how eBay Express managed to come up with that beautiful search result, it’s still wonderful to see it in action, on a query that I know we didn’t test specifically, and yet one that really mattered to my little family.

Just one anecdote, just one query out of millions.  But hey, here’s a quick shout out to the eBay Express search team – you are making magic happen every day.

Blogs I Read: My Open Wallet

This is a blog that I bet many of my friends don’t have on their regular reading list.

My Open Wallet | Madame X

This blog is one of a growing number of personal blogs where people display an unprecedented amount of openness about the most taboo of all subjects – their money. More specifically, their personal financial situation. These blogs, many times anonymous, provide detailed information about the author’s finances – salary, savings, goals, and ongoing progress.

I found this blog almost a year ago when it was featured briefly in the New York Times. I keep reading it, and commenting, because it’s incredibly useful to learn from the insights and foibles of other real people.

One of the tragedies of personal finance is that it is so hard to talk about. Personal finance is generally not covered in school at any level, and it’s shrouded in mystery and urban legend. Even close friends and family often have trouble talking about money in an honest and open way.

Blogs like My Open Wallet provide a forum where we can start to learn from each other. They allow people to gather and share information that is incredibly specific. Personally, I’m more fascinated by the common mistakes and misunderstandings that I see in these blogs. It reinforces my belief that we, as a society, do not do a good job of educating ourselves with regards to money.

This trend of Personal Finance Blogs is so large, there are even competing Web 2.0 companies, like NetWorthIQ, that provide a sophisticated toolset for people to measure and share their personal finances.

So, check it out. Let me know if you find these blogs as interesting as I do.

Economic Mythology & The Strength of the US Economy

Interesting article on on Friday:

Ahead of the Curve: Economic Mythology

I find this type of article interesting, even though I do not completely agree with the conclusion that there are no debt-related issues for the American consumer.  Right now, you could assign me to the camp that thinks the Federal Reserve has been playing this cycle fairly well.  However, it has been striking to me how the current economic cycle, which on paper has been unbelievably strong, has also been surrounded by an incredible amount of negativity.

The United States continues to deliver economic gains in gross domestic product (GDP), GDP per individual, productivity and wage gains that would be impressive for an economy one tenth the size.   In fact, the US went from a $9.76 trillion dollar economy in 2001 to a projected $13.23 trillion dollar economy in 2006.  That’s a 35.5% increase in just five years!  For all the fear and admiration of the growth of China, the US basically just added 133% of China’s 2006 economic output, in just the last five years!  (Actually, that number is bigger than the size of the GDP of even the #3 economy, Germany)

Don Dodge sometimes will remark about how hard it is for Microsoft to show the spectacular growth numbers that younger companies do.  When you have $40B in revenue, you have to grow a $4B business every year, just to deliver 10% growth.

Well, the United States has to basically grow in economic output the equivalent of the entire country of India every two years – just to deliver a 3% growth number.

All this, with almost negligible inflation. It’s almost unfair to say unprecedented, since an economy the size of the United States today is unprecedented itself.  But it was only three decades ago in the 1970s that a majority of sophisticated economists thought that it was impossible for an economy the size of the United States to show meaningful growth.

Given the struggles that Europe and Japan have had in the past 20 years to show meaningful growth, it’s obvious that there is something incredibly special about the US economy.  Something that is worth understanding thoroughly, before belittling it or complaining about it.

Given my respect for the US economy, I tend to enjoy articles like the one in SmartMoney.  The press tends to be sensationalist about economic trends, and the recent housing boom and resultant wealth effect is no exception.  There are so many interesting ways to look at the health of the economy, it’s always great to see an article like this one offer yet another.

Is there an Out of Office message for Blogs?


It’s hard for me to believe that it has been almost two weeks since my last post.
This is a new form of guilt for me – not unlike missing my regular workout at the gym, or not mowing the lawn over the weekend.

My apologies for those waiting for new posts.  Over the past two weeks, life has certainly been busy.  Ironically, there were so many times this week that I was inspired to write a post or two.   Unfortunately, somehow the timing never seemed to work out for sitting down and typing them out.

Well, the drought is over, at least for a little while.

Many thanks, by the way, to my good friend Igor Lotsvin.  I’m not sure how you found my blog, but your encouraging comment is the impetus for me taking a few extra minutes tonight to get blogging again.

It is amazing how positive the response has been to the few dozen posts on this new blog.  Some of the comments come from friends, some from co-workers, some from strangers.  I appreciate each one, and in a way, each one encourages me to not fall off the wagon.

Well, at least to get back on once I fall off.