SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - EBay Inc is pulling the plug on its annual eBay Live! event, eschewing the large networking affair for a series of more intimate gatherings to connect sellers.
The company notified sellers on its internal blog on Monday that it would no longer hold its planned August 2010 event in Orlando, Florida. Instead, eBay will host “more local events that don’t require costly travel” for attendees, said president of eBay Marketplaces Lorrie Norrington.
EBay had earlier canceled its 2009 conference.
“EBay: On Location” will begin in Orlando in February, then travel to various cities before winding up in San Jose, California, the company’s headquarters, in August. The series of smaller events will still bring together eBay sellers and provide opportunities to learn about selling on eBay, Norrington said in the blog.
The three-day event that included networking, talks with eBay executives and forums on how to benefit from eBay’s site, first began in 2002.
But recent dissatisfaction among some sellers over changes eBay has made to its pricing, listings and policies had altered the tone of the convention.
At its peak, eBay Live! attracted some 15,000 attendees, according to AuctionBytes blogger Ina Steiner, who noted that the once-festive atmosphere — where executives were greeted with rousing standing ovations — had turned combative.
“Last year’s conference in Chicago was so contentious that a convention-center worker observing one session told me it was like attending a union meeting,” Steiner wrote.
The recession has also had an effect on corporations’ marketing efforts, with many cutting back on lavishly produced events in favor of more low-key meetings.
The company, which turns 15 next year, is trying to reignite its marketplaces division where growth has decelerated in recent years. EBay is trying to move away from the online auctions business that made it famous and instead focus on fixed-price sales, which often benefit larger sellers.
EBay reports second-quarter earnings on July 22.
Reporting by Alexandria Sage, editing by Matthew Lewis, Leslie Gevirtz