Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Marketing Makeover: The Power of Trust, The Story of Ebay

Guest post by Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link

When Meg Whitman joined eBay as CEO in 1998, she said the reason was because she was “blown away by the power of trust.”

The company was founded by the French-born Iranian-American entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar, and from the beginning, it quickly became wildly successful. Today the company has a market capitalization in excess of $35 billion, with 235 million registered buyers and sellers engaging in more than 1 million transactions a day.

Ebay logo

So how has eBay managed to become so successful, especially considering that success involves millions of transactions each year between people around the globe who don’t even know each other?

The company was built on Omidyar’s high-trust belief that “most people are basically good.”

Whitman said: “More than a decade later, I still believe that Pierre was right: The fundamental reason eBay worked was that people everywhere are basically good. We provided the tools and reinforced the values, but our users built eBay. Our community’s willingness to trust eBay—and one another—was the foundation of eBay’s success.”

Does that mean that eBay operates on blind trust? Not at all.

According to Whitman: “Pierre’s premise was not that all people are good; it was that most people are basically good. I agree that it is an optimistic statement, but let’s be clear: We did not build eBay by sticking our heads in the sand. We did not ignore or deny that fraud, distasteful behavior, or unlawful activities occurred on eBay from time to time.

“Quite the contrary: We invested significantly in eBay’s Trust & Safety division, which policed the site. We created software that looked for patterns that might be signs of trading in counterfeit goods, illegal bidding, or even behavior that was simply inappropriate, such as one user stealing a digital photograph from another user’s auction page. But from day one it was clear to us that such behavior involved only a tiny minority of people.”

About the Authors

Smart Trust Stephen M.R. Covey is the New York Times bestselling author of The Speed of Trust. Greg Link is co-founder of The Covey Leadership Center. The two orchestrated the strategy that led Stephen R. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to be one of the bestselling business books of the 20th Century.

The above story is excerpted from their new book, Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World. Great book!

I've arranged access to Covey’s upcoming private 60-minute broadcast for free if you buy the book at Amazon this week (January 9 to 13):

And you can sign up for the live interactive telecast on January 12th here:


"John Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Books was instrumental to our success in making The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the two most influential business books of the 20th century." - Stephen M. R. Covey and Greg Link, authors of Smart Trust


"Thanks to you, Smart Trust is #1 in all books on Amazon & B&N. What can we say?? Thanks seems so insufficient. How's this: You rocked the free world, you extraordinary enlightened earthling you. Well, you rocked our world anyway!

"Please, please keep advocating trust. Together we can trigger a global renaissance of trust and shift the trajectory of life and leadership for generations to come." - In gratitude, Greg Link and Stephen M. R. Covey, co-authors of Smart Trust
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