A couple weeks ago, there was a great reunion party for many eBay Product Managers & User Experience Designers from the past decade. I didn’t get an exact count, but at least 70 people were there, including many of the early Product Managers from before I joined the company in 2003.
I was happily reminded of an event that I absolutely would have shared on this blog at the time – if I had been writing this blog at the time. It seemed worthy of a posting now, three years later, especially since it comes with some dot-com bragging rights.
The event? The time I sold a Leonard Speiser mask to Golden Palace Casino on eBay for $400.
Strangely disturbing, isn’t it?
The auction was put up in May, 2005, shortly after the official “going away” party for Leonard, which we held at the Tied House in Mountain View. It was a large event, and we took up the back room. There was food, drink, and the requisite roasting of Leonard “see attachment” Speiser. (We’re not rolling back, we’re rolling forward!) It also included infamous video from a particular usability test, on permanent re-run.
It was a fun time, and as party favors everyone was given these hand-made copies of Leonard’s face, taken from his Halloween rendition of Harry Potter. They were just color copies, stapled onto rulers.
On a lark, I listed one that night on eBay, hoping to raise money for his going away present. I had recently launched the first version of eBay Pulse, a popularity page ranking queries, stores, and most watched items on eBay. (There is actually a patent pending on the latter). Through a grass roots email campaign, I got a sufficient number of eBay employees to watch the item, propelling it onto the “Top 10” list for most watched items on eBay.
At that point, Golden Palace Casino found it. At the time, they were buying up crazy items on eBay as a form of PR, starting with the famous Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich. Yes, I know the memories are coming back to you now.
After some furious bidding, they won the item for $400, providing enough cash to buy Leonard an engraved video iPod (the hot item at the time). He claims he still has it. 🙂
In any case, we delivered the item, signed, to Golden Palace, and they posted it on their website. It’s hard to find now, but a little Google sleuthing uncovered it. Here’s what they had to say:
A handheld sign, made from a ruler and a cut-out of Leonardï’s head, was sold on eBay for $400.00. GoldenPalace.com bought the item, which was made for Leonard Speiser, an eBay Product Manager who was leaving his job. In order to raise money for the send-off party and roast, the sign was auctioned off on eBay. The sign has staples in it to roughly make a slot for the ruler, which you use to hold it up.
Itï’s funny to see actual eBay employees putting items up on eBay, but we are assured that: “this listing in no way, shape, or form represents any type of official eBay business. This listing is purely a loving gesture for one of the truly great members of the eBay community.” Leonard will apparently be greatly missed by many, and they are trying to raise money for a going away present, to be given to him at the party. All the online casino got for their money is the sign and ruler; nothing more, nothing less.
Leonard Speiser went on to found Bix.com, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2006. Leonard is still there, as you can see from his current LinkedIn profile.
Just in case he tries to feign ignorance of this whole event, I have proof he was a party to it:
This is such a fun memory, really symbolic of some of the best times at eBay… I’m really happy that I’m getting a chance to capture it here.