Tech Industry

eBay's tech chief quits

The company's head of technology, Chris Hjelm, steps down in the midst of a major technology upgrade of the online auction site.

The head of technology at eBay has stepped down in the midst of a major technology upgrade of the online auction site, an eBay spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

Chris Hjelm's departure, announced to eBay employees in an internal memo this week, comes just over a year after he joined the company. Hjelm, who was a vice president and senior staff member at eBay, has relinquished his duties in order to pursue "other career opportunities," said Kevin Pursglove, an eBay spokesman. He had been instrumental in improving the availability and scalability of eBay's Web site, Pursglove said.

Hjelm will continue working with the San Jose, Calif.-based company over the next several months to help with the management transition, but not as an official employee, Pursglove added. Pursglove characterized Hjelm's departure as amicable.

Although Hjelm had played a central part in the introduction of eBay's next-generation V3 system architecture, his exit won't have an impact on the project, which is still in progress, said Pursglove. eBay began its V3 upgrade, expected to enable real-time updates to eBay's data warehouse and to provide minute-by-minute updates for listings, about a year ago.

"There is a solid management team at eBay that can close ranks and carry on anytime a member of senior management team decides to move on," Pursglove said. "It's an advantage of the deep bench we have here at eBay."

Responsibility for the project is spread between several senior eBay staff, including chief operating officer and former technology president Maynard Webb, who will continue to oversee the project, said Pursglove. The project is still far from complete, he added.

"We're all extremely proud of the technology team's accomplishments and believe that with these changes, the team is well positioned for the future," stated eBay chief executive Meg Whitman in the internal memo.

Hjelm's departure comes in the middle of an eBay effort to put an increased emphasis on site stability. The online auction site has been plagued with site problems, most recently seeing glitches in November as well as a nearly five-hour slowdown, outages and problems in March and April last year.

eBay has not yet decided if it will hire a replacement for Hjelm, Pursglove said. Picking up the slack will be Marty Abbott, who has been appointed vice president of technology, and Lynn Reedy, who was named vice president of product and software development and architecture. Both report to Webb. In addition, Chuck Geiger has been appointed vice president and technology chief of PayPal, said Pursglove.