Meg Whitman on Skype (and her visit today to Capitol Hill): I’m at the NFIB Small-Business Summit this morning, where eBay‘s CEO Meg Whitman has just spoken. (NFIB.com story.) Recently, there has been much written about how Google and others have approached Capitol Hill. As a very close and longtime observer of the advocacy arena, I must give major kudos to Meg Whitman for getting it — at least when it comes to lobbying for some business-related concerns of lots of “power sellers” on eBay. (I can’t speak to their efforts on other fronts.) Someone at eBay has realized that it’s a waste of time to reinvent the wheel when groups like NFIB, an organization of over a half-million members, is already working on some specific issues (one specifically: the ability for small businesses to form inter-state purchasing pools of health insurance) that eBay knows are critical to their growing numbers of small business sellers and buyers. So, Whitman is spending part of the day visiting Capitol Hill with NFIB small business owners (and, unlike a recent high profile tech celebrity who visited Capitol Hill, Meg Whitman is dressed for success).
One interesting sidenote in her talk: She mentioned how eBay is working on creating “a new type of e-commerce platform called ‘Click-to-call'” using its acquisition of Skype. “Click to call” will “help small businesses that aren’t served by eBay’s core services,” she said, including landscaping firms, travel agencies or real estate brokers. “The eBay model doesn’t work very well for them because they rely on lead generation rather than routine transactions to build their businesses. Each job is different. And both sides need a direct connection. A lot of information needs to be shared before (they) can close a deal. So we think Skype can take the friction out of this process. Instead of bidding for an hour of a gardener’s time, you can simple click and call a landscaper for a customized quote. This will allow a whole new segment of small businesses to take advantage of the internet.”
(Disclosure: NFIB is a client of Hammock Publishing. Oh, yes, and another disclosure: I sell stuff on eBay. Later: I thought of other ones: I have Skype and Paypal accounts.)