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Toysoldier Thor

A Twitter Ebbe Toy Chat on Commerce Team

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A brief twitter discussion thread tonight regarding Marketplace and Commerce Team.  Seems when I expanded the issues of Markeplace speed that Jo brought up to Ebbe to be much bigger than just MP speed, Ebbe stepped in to say that maybe the Commerce Team was not given the chance to succeed.  So.... after sending him a link of the laundry list of issues Merchants have had and brought forward to Rodvik in 2012, he understood but still thinks the team seemed to be doomed to fail.

My response.. :)  So that means Ebbe knows they were / are doomed and will do something to let them succeed ...

We all have heard this before ... lets see if Ebbe will fix this majorly broken Commerce Team model.

 

Ebbe Toy twitter chat.JPG

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Each generation of Commerce Team has inherited a mess, no doubt.  Yet people like Sassy has over and over and over explained in detail the low hanging fruit -- the easy stuff -- that could be easily done to make the MP far more functional. And we have never heard a single word about why these things could not be done. I have no way of knowing why, but I can believe their hands were somehow tied -- certainly there has to be SOME reason that so little has been achieved over such a long period of time.

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Totally agreed Pamela....

Sounds like Ebbe is making an excuse for them having years of poor / failed delivery and horrid customer engagement and poor priority setting.

From what Ebbe said... he seems to realize or know that there has possibly been major unknown factors (what ever these secret factors are that we have neve been entitled to know) that have always been in place and no Executive Management was able to resolve or not aware of.

So this means to me that Ebbe knows of these major roadblocks... then Ebbe is implying that he can FIX IT?

Years of no progress on the Commerce Team maturing... I am skeptical that Ebbe can solve it either.

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PS... what I am curious about Ebbe's position on the Commerce Team is, how after one week does Ebbe already have this clear a suspicion on what factors are dooming this team to continually fail? 

In fact, how does he even know the extent, magnitude, and history of how bad this team has failed after only one week.  Who has he talked to?  Please dont tell me it was only LL Commerce Team staff or LL Execs?  No input for this team's customers... THE MERCHANTS ?

I hope if Ebbe is serious about finally solving the years of Commerce Team failures that he engages the Merchants and asks us.  What a novel concept huh?

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Toy, I don't have the answers. But, we do know he has been meeting with employees since arriving. We also know he has in some ways kept up with SL via his friend the investor in SL and his personal interests. 

I suspect as an investor I might pay some attention to SL. Even at cursory levels of attention I think the communities frustration with the Commerce Team would be noticable. I would think that information would have made it to Ebbe before he took the job. If so, he would have been asking specific questions during the employee interviews process. There are a lot of if's there. But, there is also life on Earth and belief in total evolution...

In companies having an oppertunity often means being given the priority and funding a project needs. It would not take any great amount of research for a CEO to learn whether they had 'oppertunity' in that regard or not.

Can he get it fixed? Geez, its only a freaking web site. It runs off a set of databases and uses capabilties provided by other servers (CAPS - API's). All of that is common tech used everyday on thousands of sites. I am totally amazed the site hasn't been fixed. But, there is no mystical reason or special complication preventing a team from getting it working. So... I figure there has to be some people-management-political reason for the problems.

Whatever the case, hopefully we will see something change in the coming months.

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Toysoldier Thor wrote:

Totally agreed Pamela....

Sounds like Ebbe is making an excuse for them having years of poor / failed delivery and horrid customer engagement and poor priority setting.

From what Ebbe said... he seems to realize or know that there has possibly been major unknown factors (what ever these secret factors are that we have neve been entitled to know) that have always been in place and no Executive Management was able to resolve or not aware of.

So this means to me that Ebbe knows of these major roadblocks... then Ebbe is implying that he can FIX IT?

Years of no progress on the Commerce Team maturing... I am skeptical that Ebbe can solve it either.

The Employees can do no more than what they are given permission to do and the tools to do it with.

Ebbe has stated he has been meeting with employees.  And I get the impression they've been allowed to bring up problems.  He stated, "None of the Server Devs liked the JIRA's being closed."  (I'm paraphrasing a little).

I don't expect him to wave a magic wand today and it will all be fixed tomorrow.  But it sure looks to me that he has hit the ground running and is being very pro-active.

 

 

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Yes those are good sources of how Ebbe might already be aware of the firestorm of frustration over all these years that has been burning between the Merchants of SL and the generations of the Commerce Team.

And I would think as you do that one of these "never been given the opportunity to succeed" could be lack of funding priorities for the team.  BUT, regardless of the level of funding pioroity that LL Execs have continually neglected this team with, none of that would explain the following behaviors by these successive generations of the Commerce Team:

 

  • Funding or no funding IMHO does not explain some of the horrible isolationist new features / product fix decision priorities that have been made by this team over the years.  They took on some MAJOR enhancement efforts to deploy features that were questionable and didn't place any effort to deploy fixes to very simple enhancements that the Merchants ask for.
  • It doesnt explain the team's utter inability and even downright fear to openly engage, interact with, and leverage the enormous talents, skills, and advice offered by this merchant community that mixes Creator/Developer skills with business/marketing skills.
  • As you said and I will expand on, it doesn't explain the poor architected design of the current generation of the Marketplace system that has allowed a transaction to be separated into two that can and has become disjointed and allowed products to be sold, LL to be paid, and the Merchants to not be aware of the sale NOR PAID!

So Ebbe might feel that this is a team that is very skilled and wise but has been hampered by outside controls, but years of history watching the generations of this team fumble and fail on what I just mentioned above tells me that the team immaturity and lack of effective experience on running this critical service within LL/SL has to be a major part of the on-going failures by the Commerce Team.

When I said to Ebbe that the Commerce Team needs an overhaul... I still stand by this statement.  These barriers that Ebbe thinks are holding this team back need to be addressed as part of this overhaul BUT the management of this team needs to be reviewed to see if the leadership of this team needs to be replaced by those that have a better grasp of what is needed in the Commerce Team's scope - which included Marketplace.

Remember Nalates... this is not just about a website (Marketplace).... its about ALL COMMERCE ACTIVITIES within SL... which goes far beyond the MP site.

I think most of the SL community (even those with a strong grasp of all other aspects of LL development) underestimate how complex the merchant community systems are and how majorly failed it is.

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Good luck in your next big quest to get anybody from that company to listen. I am surprised anybody actually has the energy to do anything here any more. I get to cash out regularly, but I wouldn't be lifting my ass to get them to hear me because I know it will probably fall on deaf ears. The start may be encouraging, but it will trail off as it always has. Times have changed, it's their game and they will do as they want.

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At the risk of sounding like an obnoxious sub human, after this many years of fumbling on commerce website a chance to succeed would be showing them the door and allowing them to well ... go succeed.

The only real progress we've seen is the initial rewrite from Apotheus PHP to Ruby and Spree. After that, not so much. Partial direct delivery implementation, oversold and occassionaly over billing ads. Horrible search, blah.

If he wants to salvage the people, put them elsewhere and get some talent that can do it without taking years for a single feature or fix. Thankfully, it's not my call. By all means throw more money at it and see how that goes. We have guessed that perhaps the team was too small.

At the very least, no remote workers and frequent electric shocks.

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In the years that I've been part of the SL community, I have seen several changes in the top-end management, the middle-level management, the bottom-level management, and all other levels and stations along the chain of command. And yet the same boneheaded, inscrutable and indefensible bad decisions keep right on rolling out across the Grid. As a trouble-shooter, I'd have to say that real problem is with the one component that has never changed: The Investors.

There are all sorts of things that could be done in short order to bring some semblance of hope to the product. There are simple changes, complex changes and even some less than obvious but oh-so necessary changes too. But based on what Ebbe said to you Toy, I'm afraid I'm going to put my vote next to Magnet's.

Ebbe will try and do what he can. He will be thwarted, denied, derailed, countermanded and eventually forced out or pissed off enough to leave on his own accord .. and the same situation will continue.

The Linden Lab corporate entity is operating exactly as the Investors and controllers wish it to operate .. and that has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether or not their products work.

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Toysoldier Thor wrote:

PS... what I am curious about Ebbe's position on the Commerce Team is, how after one week does Ebbe already have this clear a suspicion on what factors are dooming this team to continually fail? 

In fact, how does he even know the extent, magnitude, and history of how bad this team has failed after only one week.  Who has he talked to?  Please dont tell me it was only LL Commerce Team staff or LL Execs?  No input for this team's customers... THE MERCHANTS ?

I hope if Ebbe is serious about finally solving the years of Commerce Team failures that he engages the Merchants and asks us.  What a novel concept huh?

He and his son have both been in SL for a while. Perhaps he has seen the fail after fail first hand. Perhaps he has had numerous MP purchase fails.

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Drake1 Nightfire wrote:

 Perhaps he has seen the fail after fail first hand. Perhaps he has had numerous MP purchase fails.


Perhaps he was just fobbing you off with deep and meaningless platitudes that sound even worse in English than in Swedish.

Wooja...thinkhewrotehisownpostsreally

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Guys, dont get me wrong... I am not optimistic that this latest merry-go-round of CEO's will have any more power or desire to repair the long history of what ever factors that make the LL Commerce Team so ineffective and out-of-touch with the products/services/customer base their are obligated to support and grow.

Even if Ebbe knows what this key factor is that - as he said - they were not given the chance to succeed, I agree with all of you that he will likely go through his era of being CEO with no improvements to the Commerce Team.

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I am not one of those you agree with in this thread. There is not enough evidence to draw any kind of conclusion at this point, and I am more than willing to wait and see what he does as well as says.

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Pamela Galli wrote:

I am not one of those you agree with in this thread. There is not enough evidence to draw any kind of conclusion at this point, and I am more than willing to wait and see what he does as well as says.

I'm with Pam. He has said quite a few things that encourages me. The way he phrased things in his reactions to some aspects. They were genuine and telling. He's a get it together kind of CEO, at least I get that from all I've seen of him. And, I think the Yahoo experience will suit his work here well.

I wasn't all that happy with his responses about the TOS, as he seems a bit relaxed about it, but other than that, he has impressed me quite a bit.

As far as the commerce team, I don't know. Don't get me wrong, the site is a disaster, as far are features and function. Nothing we've seen from the "team" impresses me even in the slightest. I can't even imagine why nothing gets done, nor why the site runs so bad. How can you not blame it on the team? Then again, I don't code and know nothing really about marketplace sites. What I do know, is that Xstreet ran like a fricken charm. My own website marketplace and shopping cart works like a dream, with 2 different apps handling all the digital delivery and payments, in which I can accept every payment type on the planet. It's mindboggling that the SL Marketplace is so bad.

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I can do a wait and see. I've gone quiet on this for the most part.

I'd almost hate to put that cheerleader uniform on again though ... who knew shaving your legs was that much work?

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Pamela Galli wrote:

I am not one of those you agree with in this thread. There is not enough evidence to draw any kind of conclusion at this point, and I am more than willing to wait and see what he does as well as says.

Its not that i am "NOT WILLING TO WAIT" to see if Ebbe is different than every other past CEO in LL's history that has come and gone and failed to address all the Commerce Team woes.  Other than packing my bag and shutting down my MP presence - which would be stupid effort to take for any reason - I really have no choice but to be willing to wait.  It doesn't hurt me to wait.

So Pamela, I am as willing to wait to see if Ebbe delivers where no LL CEO has never before.  The difference between you and me on this topic is that I will be skeptical on Ebbe's ability to deliver until he actually shows PROOF that he is different and delivering.  You are taking the position of HOPING that he seems different and will make visible improvements before he even does.

In the end when Ebbe's CEO term ends, I will be pleasantly surprised if he does and not disappointed if he proved to be like Rodvik and all the rest.  You will be disappointed once again if he doesn't and as happy as me if he does.

With the past record of LL CEOs addressing the Commerce Team issues at 100% failure, I think its the better approach to be skeptical NOW and HAPPY if he succeeds.  Not sure why anyone would be hopeful about any CEO with a 100% failure history as evidence.

Just the way I fly :)

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I'm getting bad vibes about the new CEO. I don't think he has the backbone to stand up to any significant degree to the ultra conservative board of directors. ;-)

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Spica Inventor wrote:

I'm getting bad vibes ...

Care to elaborate as to why/how you're getting these "bad vibes"? What has happened that would vibe you in a badly way?

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IIRC, SLMP is just a modified version of Spree FLOSS commerce platform that runs on RoR.

I am never very good at explaining this, but the basics of it is that it uses a programming language and platform called Ruby On Rails, and it's horrificially slow. Java can be 1000 time faster in searching large databases, and in fact that's exactly what Twitter found out after it abandoned Ruby on Rails due to its horrible performance.

The problem is that the people who don't actually program, like the managers, see Ruby on Rails and its short development time and how fast it is to set something up and they just see less hours of coding which means less money spent on the product development.

But Ruby on Rails doesn't scale. It's always been horrifically slow and it's just barely starting to catch up to other really slow web scripting languages and platforms, but it simply doesn't scale.

And when I say scale, I'm referring to the ability to support a large number of simulateous users. Ruby on Rails, the platform which SLMP runs on, is essentially designed for small, low traffic websites which aren't mean to gain significant amounts of users.

XStreet did it right, they used PHP. Yes, PHP is a mess of a language and it seems like it was almost designed to encourage you to write bad code, but it's fast. It powers Facebook and lots of other massive websites. And Facebook itself has its own PHP tools which can make PHP run extremely fast.

If you're trying to make a web application that can scale to a ton of users, you need technology like PHP + Postgres. If you're a management guy who wants to cut corners to make the quarterly report look great because you reduced opperating expenses by paying developers less, then Ruby on Rails is perfect.

The whole SLMP situation irks me to no end. XStreet website was great but Magic Boxes were kind of unreliable. So LL replaced it with Direct Delivery (which I'm a big fan of) and then got rid of the good website and replaced it with something awful.

SLMP is killing my sales. I have started to reset up in world purchases in my in world store, and I keep getting IMs from frusterated users who don't want to deal with SLMP being slow and useless yet want to buy products.

Marketplace being in the state its in is killing SL. SLMP is the gateway to the vast majority of content for Second Life. Every new user that signs up for SL while marketplace is not running right gets a first impression that the website's broken.

Something like 10 seconds to load a web page for a new user is 99.99999% going to kill any hopes of that user coming back. And I've seen SLMP take 45 seconds to load on a 100mbps internet connection where every other site I would go to loaded instantly.

I've been in SL for some time and from what I've seen, it's always been a pattern of user signs up, buys things, then does things with what they bought. You need to buy things in SL to be occupied, it's essentially a free 2 play game with microtransactions everywhere.

Just put this into perspective, imagine if Farmville, League of Legends, or TF2 store took a long time to load and was unreliable. Do you think they would all be as successful as they are?

I am really hoping they can fix it. I think fixing SLMP would fix a lot of other problems with the grid, like the retention rate for new users, which would drive up land purchases, drive up the economy, etc.

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