whitman: Actually, because of our online technology and very involved community of users, we have access to a lot of information. The real issue is how to manage and evaluate the information, and prioritize the opportunities that come forward. Staying focused is the key to managing our time. My motto is that it's better to do five things at 100 percent than 20 things at 65 percent.
american way: How do you find and hire the sort of high-performance employees you need?
whitman: One of our strong selling points to prospective employees is a little unconventional. We offer future employees a chance to join a company that we believe is making history. I like to say that we hire missionaries, not mercenaries. Because we want to hire people who will help us build the company, we look for individuals who can show they are committed to eBay's mission.
american way: Tell us about an initiative that hasn't gone as well as planned.
whitman: We try to be very focused about [new initiatives] and only pursue the ones that truly bring strategic value. With that said, no company is perfect, and we frankly haven't seen the type of traction we had hoped for with our launch of eBay Japan. We're a little late getting into that market, and we are up against a very formidable competitor that has executed very well. We're currently reevaluating our strategy there.
american way: How is eBay affecting the auction and retailing worlds?
whitman: EBay is a place where buyers can buy unique, hard-to-find, or value-oriented items. It has allowed sellers to reach new customers through a low-cost, efficient channel with a greater return on investment. Some retailers and manufacturers are experimenting with selling on eBay because they're realizing this is an effective channel for returned merchandise or excess inventory.