TIME eBay

eBay to Ban Confederate Flags

US-CRIME-SHOOTING-FLAG
MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP/Getty Images A man holds a sign up during a protest rally against the Confederate flag in Columbia, South Carolina on June 20, 2015.

eBay said in a statement today that it will ban Confederate flag-themed items, immediately, following in the footsteps of Walmart, Sears and K-Mart.

“We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags, and many items containing this image, because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The backlash against the flag comes in the wake of the mass shooting in a Charleston, S.C., historically black church. The alleged perpetrator, Dylann Roof, has been shown posing with the Confederate flag in photos, as well as making racist remarks.

In response to the shooting, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called for the Confederate flag that stands on the grounds of the state capitol to be taken down. Viriginia Governor Terry McAuliffe called for his state to phase out license plates depicting the flag, which many associate with slavery and racism.

 

TIME Confederate Flag

Amazon, eBay Show No Signs of Banning Confederate Flag Merchandise

A search on Amazon yields almost 30,000 items

In the aftermath of the shootings at a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., last week that left nine dead, public anger over the massacre has evolved into calls to completely retire the Confederate flag that the shooter apparently revered.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday she supports removing the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds. And Walmart, K-Mart, and Sears, three of the country’s largest retailers, have moved to ban Confederate flag merchandise from their stores.

But not everyone is jumping on board: the e-commerce platforms Amazon and e-Bay have yet to announce they will do the same.

A search on Amazon for “confederate flag” yields almost 30,000 items, including flags in the “Patio, Lawn & Garden” category, blankets, shower curtains, and even knives. Similarly, a search on eBay yields thousands of results, such as confederate-themed dog collars, and iPhone cases.

A widely circulated photo of the shooting suspect Dylann Roof holding a gun and a Confederate flag has stirred up outrage.

“For many people in our state, the flag stands for traditions that are noble,” Gov. Haley said at a press conference Monday. “At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past.”

Fortune has reached out to Amazon and eBay for comment and will update this post with any responses.

TIME leadership

This Is How Much It Costs to Lunch With Warren Buffett

150529_INV_Buffett
Rick Wilking—Reuters Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett

If it's part of a charity auction that is

For a little more than $1 million, you too could dine with Warren Buffett. The annual auction of a “power lunch” with the Oracle of Omaha opened on Sunday night at $25,000, and the bidding is already up to $1,000,100.

The eBay auction benefits the Glide Foundation, a charitable organization that assists the poor and homeless, which Buffett has chosen to receive the proceeds of the lunch fundraiser each year. Bidding goes until Friday, June 5, at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Still, by the time the auction closes, the winning bidder—so far only four are in the race—will likely have to pay much more than $1 million to eat steak with Buffett.

Last year, a Singapore man, Andy Chua, paid $2.2 million for the lunch date, which is often held at the Smith & Wollensky restaurant in New York. The record price for the meal, however, was in 2012, when an anonymous winner paid nearly $3.5 million.

At the current pace of bidding, this year’s auction stands to beat the 2012 record. The bidding was only at $500,000 with two days to go before the close of the auction that year; the current auction has already double that amount and there are still more than four days left to bid.

After all, dining with Buffett has already yielded much more than bragging rights to at least one lucky winner. Ted Weschler outbid his competitors to win the Glide auction in both 2010 and 2011, paying more than $2.6 million each time. Then a hedge fund manager, Weschler spent the meals discussing his own investment strategy and success—and impressed Buffett so much that the Oracle hired Weschler to run part of his legendary investment portfolio at Berkshire Hathaway.

Now considered one of Buffett’s protégés who will eventually take charge of Berkshire’s investments when Buffett eventually retires, Weschler had remained anonymous during both of the Glide auctions. His identity was first revealed by longtime Fortune writer Carol J. Loomis when his hiring was officially announced.

Perhaps it’s Weschler’s kind of prize—the chance to work directly for Buffett—that is inflating the cost of the charity lunch. In 2008, investor Guy Spier paid just $650,000 to lunch with Buffett.

As is typical, Buffett ordered a cherry coke with his medium-rare steak.

TIME eBay

The 1 Unexpected Trick to Selling Your Stuff on Ebay

eBay
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The ebay Inc. logo and website are arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015.

Using eBay's mobile app can save you time while you still make big bucks

It’s that time of year again. Folding tables are sprouting up in driveways all over the U.S., because yard sale season has arrived once more. But selling your old junk on the side of the road is no way to maximize your returns — that’s best done online. And when it comes to second-hand sales, eBay is still first-rate in a crowded marketplace of e-commerce sites.

“EBay is great to sell used products, one-of-a kind items, antiques, or items that are broken,” says Jordan Malik, author of The Free eBay Products Worth Thousands That You Can Sell Today.

Wait, broken items? Yes indeed — even your junk can rake in dough online, says the award-winning Amazon merchant who’s also been selling on eBay for more than 15 years. “Believe it or not, there’s a huge marketplace for broken electronics for spare parts,” says Malik.

But there’s one key difference between power-sellers like Malik and poor packrats like the rest of us: they don’t hesitate when posting a product for sale.

“People are hesitant to use eBay because of the complexity of putting up a product,” says Malik, adding that sitting down at a computer, picking out a design template, and typing up snappy copy can be a drag. Instead, Malik uses eBay’s mobile app to advertise his goods for sale. “That has made it so much easier to take a photo and list a product,” he says. “They really dumbed down the process.”

The popularity of eBay’s app is changing the game for sellers like Malik. Last year, sales from mobile devices accounted for around one-fifth of the e-commerce site’s total. And, crucially, eBay’s mobile users don’t see the bolded fonts or color-shaded listings that desktop buyers do. That’s why Malik doesn’t bother with these window-dressing details.

“They need to read a description and see the photos clearly to make the buying decision,” he says.

When selling his stuff, Malik uses his smartphone to take photos of the product, uploading the pictures through the eBay app where he also dictates a description of the gear using the voice-to-text feature. From the smartphone’s camera to its microphone, handheld technology has dramatically eliminated the barriers to posting products online.

“In five minutes or less, I’ve got the listing live,” he says. Malik admits that later on, he may fire up the laptop to edit or add more to the description, but that’s not necessary to closing a sale. “There’s plenty of people who just do mobile period and they do just fine,” he says.

As for what sells best on eBay, that’s similarly surprising. You might expect big ticket items in demand by everyone — like cellphones or electronics — to start bidding wars on the auction website. But Malik says niche products tend to sell just as well. For instance, if you have size 15 shoes, get them posted, because someone with big feet will likely come across your listing before they stroll up your front walk.

“If you have 20 used men’s shirts that are 18 1/2s with 35/36 sleeves, selling them together in a bundle will bring you a lot more than they will at a yard sale,” says Malik. And if you’re undecided about what’s more important — freeing yourself from clutter or weighing down your pockets with a chunk of change — this method will have you covered on both.

MONEY

6 Crazy Things You Can Sell on eBay

toilet paper roll
Michael Krinke—Getty Images

You'd be surprised how much money you'll make off these everyday items

It seems that nothing is too head-scratchingly weird to be placed up for sale on eBay. But what if I told you that you could earn some extra cash on eBay by selling common household items that most of us toss without a second thought?

This is definitely an example of one person’s trash being another’s treasure. Selling what is typically considered garbage can net you a few hundred dollars a year from eBay and have you rethinking what you throw away. Did you know that you could make money selling:

1. Old Computer Software

If you have software for computers you replaced years ago, you may be able to sell them for extra cash on eBay. That’s exactly what I did when I discovered a bunch of old software in my junk storage drawer. Think no one is interested in your 2003 Microsoft Word software? Think again. That’ll sell for $15 to $30 on eBay. And that’s just one example. The amount of software out there is vast, so it’s impossible to provide a lot of specifics for what will sell. However, it doesn’t take long to check. Seriously, it’s a potential gold mine. Pull out those old disks and check away.

2. Magazines

After being convinced that I needed to part with some of my beloved magazines, I jokingly implored my husband to check on eBay to see if anyone would buy them. I was surprised to find out that I could make money selling my old issues, and I started cleaning house!

Which magazines sell? The specific magazines and the prices they will sell for vary. For instance, one back issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray sold for $5, while a group of 11 magazines from 2008 to 2011 sold for $19.99. We’re not talking rare or vintage stuff here, just regular issues that people are selling after reading them. Spend a few minutes on eBay looking up your magazines and you could be ready to sell and make some money too!

3. Empty Makeup Containers

Specifically, the empty makeup containers of a specific high end brand, M.A.C., are in high demand. They are popular because of the retailer’s “Back to M.A.C.” rewards program where customers can exchange six empty M.A.C. makeup containers for a free lipstick. At $16 a pop, people are looking for ways to get their pricey lipstick for less. Empty M.A.C. containers sell anywhere from $5 to $40 depending on the number for sale and the cost of shipping. If you use this brand, it’s an opportunity to score some extra cash. If you’re looking for a way to get your M.A.C. for less, well, here it is.

So there you have it, six examples of common household trash items that can be sold on eBay for a few hundred dollars per year. I’ll be looking for others because I’m sure there are more. That’s my type of recycling.

4. Coupons

How would you like to make $5 to $10 for selling one coupon? Sounds crazy, right? But there’s a market for these recyclable bits. Some coupons seem to sell at a premium. For instance, a 15% coupon from Pottery Barn, or other high end stores, regularly sells for $9.99, and a $25 coupon sells for $14.99. Coupons for many other retailers like Macy’s, Target, Home Depot, and more sell well too. The beauty of this is all you have to do is wait for them to show up in the mail and sell what you’re not using. Doing this once a month could probably net you an additional $50–$75 a year.

5. Empty Egg Cartons

To think I felt good about myself because I made a point of placing my empty egg cartons in the correct recycling bin for trash pickup. Who knew I could give them new life and bring people joy (and earn some extra cash) by selling them on eBay?

Like the cardboard tubes above, egg cartons seem to be wanted by the arts and crafts crowd. It’s not uncommon for a stack of empty egg cartons to sell for $10 to $20, and it doesn’t seem to matter if they are cardboard or foam. They are easily stackable and won’t take up much space while you collect enough to sell. By saving my cartons (and taking my parents’ empties), I should be able to sell a few stacks a year.

6. Paper Towel and Toilet Tissue Cardboard Tubes

I know, right? Who would have thought that people would pay money for the cardboard tubes of spent tissue? The people who are selling them on eBay and making money, that’s who! It seems that these recyclable goodies are popular for arts and crafts projects.

To cash in you’ll need to stock up before you sell, saving at least 35 empty tubes. So grab a bag, toss in those tubes, and let them add up. Depending on the size of your family and how quickly you go through rolls will determine how often you can sell on eBay. It’s not uncommon for empty cardboard tubes to sell for $10, $20 or $30. That’s pretty good for something that is literally tossed in the recycling bin.

More From Wise Bread:

TIME Canada

Rob Ford Sold His Tie on eBay

The tie sold for $1,445

Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has sold the tie he wore when he confessed to smoking crack for $1,445 on eBay.

The tie, which features several NFL team logos, was worn by the former mayor, and current city councillor, when he admitted he smoked crack cocaine at a 2013 news conference.

The tie was originally posted to Ford’s eBay page in February, CTV News Toronto reports, when it went for over $16,000. But Ford posted a Twitter message on Sunday saying some items were re-posted due to fraudulent bidding.

There were 30 bids made for the tie.

MONEY Tech

Lots of Apple Watch Listings on eBay Are Attracting Zero Bids

Apple Watch
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sellers are asking extremely high "Buy It Now" prices at eBay to take advantage of strong demand for Apple Watches. But in many cases, consumers aren't biting.

By most accounts, the Apple Watch did a terrific business on the first day customers could place preorders. Apple reportedly received roughly one million orders last Friday, and demand has been so high that orders placed now won’t be delivered until June or even later in the summer.

The first customers who preordered Apple Watches, however, will have their shiny gadgets in hand starting on April 24 or soon thereafter. Part of the draw of being an early adopter is the opportunity to get one’s hands on the newest tech before everyone else, and a certain group of consumers is sure to be too impatient to wait until summer to get their hands on the new Apple Watch.

Naturally, this combination of strong demand and limited short-term supply led Apple Watches to begin appearing for resale on eBay almost as soon as Apple started accepting preorders. As ReCode noted over the weekend, most eBay listings for Apple Watches were of the “Buy It Now” variety, in which sellers post a flat price for the item rather than putting it up for an online auction. We probably shouldn’t be surprised that some sellers appear to be exceptionally opportunistic and greedy, occasionally posting “Buy It Now” prices that are 200% to 600% higher than retail.

Mind you, anyone can place an order and pay the retail price at the Apple Store for these exact same watches; the only reason anyone would pay a premium for an Apple Watch via eBay is that—assuming the listing is legitimate—you’d be able to show it off a few weeks sooner.

OK, so people selling stuff online are trying to make a quick buck by taking advantage of impatient Apple fans: Nothing new here. Are people actually paying up?

In some cases, they are indeed, but often not to the extent that sellers might hope. In one eBay auction that closed on Monday, a 42 mm Stainless Steel Apple Watch with link bracelet that retails for $999 was purchased for $1,400. Another Apple Watch, a 38 mm with a Black Sport Band, received 20 bids and sold for $561, barely over the retail price ($549). The results of some of the online auctions ending on Monday were puzzling: In one auction for a 38 mm Stainless Steel with Black Classic Buckle Apple Watch, the final bid was $610 (original price: $649), while a 42 mm version of the same Apple Watch (original price: $699) went for $910 in an auction that ended at almost the exact same time on Monday afternoon. Yet another Apple Watch auction that ended Monday, for a 38 mm model that retails for $349, wound up selling for $480.

It’s hard to draw many conclusions about the height of Apple Watch demand and the state of consumer patience from such all-over-the-map results. One thing that’s particularly interesting is that dozens of listings with “Buy It Now” prices and many with side-by-side “Buy It Now” prices and high starting bid prices came and went on Monday after attracting no bids whatsoever. For instance, no one bid on a 42 mm Milanese Loop Apple Watch listed at a “Buy It Now” price of $1,499, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the gadget can be purchased at retail for just $699.

Obviously, some sellers are trying to test the market with the hopes of making as large a profit as possible on their timely device purchase. In general, buyers are paying only moderate premiums in Apple Watch resales. For now at least, it looks like consumers aren’t going completely overboard in the quest to slide an Apple Watch onto their wrists a few days before their neighbors and coworkers.

TIME U.S.

You Can Now Buy a Huge Chunk of a Town Featured in Walking Dead

This deal could be a no-brainer

The former mayor of a town in rural Georgia town is using eBay to sell the downtown district featured on AMC’s hit television drama Walking Dead.

In an effort to leverage the new found fame of Grantville, Ga., Jim Sells is hoping to find a buyer for up to nine buildings, totaling 25,000 square feet, to help revitalize the area. His asking price is $680,000.

Sells prominently advertises the town’s attractiveness to the television and film industry on eBay.

“We have people coming from all over the world because of The Walking Dead,” he told USA Today.

The former textile town had fallen on tough times, with many residents leaving to find better jobs, creating the post-apocalyptic feel that the makers of Walking Dead found so attractive.

Sells bought the properties out of foreclosure during the recession and set to renovating the dilapidated zone.

Walking Dead, currently in its fifth season, is one of the most popular shows on television and follows a beleaguered cast of characters as they search for safety from a world inhabited by zombies.

TIME eBay

The Rise and Fall (and Rise and Fall) of eBay

Ebay Reports Quarterly Earnings
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The online auctions site is being carved up to keep investors happy. What will be left won't be pretty

Remember when people seriously talked about their eBay addictions? You might not, because you’d have to go back a dozen years or more. And anyway, it was really more of a compulsion, the way mobile games or chat apps have more recently become. Still, if you look you can still find multiple confessions of self-described eBay addicts.

“Hard to believe it’s only been six months since I met my great love,” began one addict’s confession in the heady days of 1999. “I refer, of course, to eBay.” Of course. The site’s manic youthfulness was captured back then in a TV ad where a pudgy Bezos-ish man danced and sang how “I did it eBay!”. Quirky, yes, but eBayers got it. eBay was the “it” company, the rare dot-com that saw its stock surge after the tech bust, fueled in large part by the compulsions of its buyers.

No fad lasts, though, and eBay had to weather a rough transition as our online addictions moved to MySpace, then to Facebook, then to Angry Birds and beyond. Its stock peaked at $59.21 a share in late 2004 before entering into a tailspin after it became clear the broad enthusiasm for online auctions was fading. Within five years, the share price had fallen below $10 a share.

In the rare turnaround for an Internet company, eBay came back–reaching as high as $59.70 a year ago–because of two key factors. The first was PayPal, which eBay bought for $1.5 billion in 2002. The second was CEO John Donahoe, who realigned the company at great effort to not only keep PayPal ascendant but also to revive eBay’s original marketplace.

Today, the stock is still performing well, trading around $55 a share. But don’t read too much optimism into that. Shareholders aren’t bailing because the company has worked so hard to please them. Stock buybacks trimmed eBay’s share count by 5% in 2014–enough, its CFO reckons, to add 8 cents a share to the bottom line this year. And eBay is ready with another $3 billion to spend on repurchasing more shares if necessary. Meanwhile, 2,400 workers are being laid off this week.

Beneath such investor-pleasing maneuvers, there remains a renewed and growing conviction that the decline of eBay’s core operations is starting all over again. It’s not at all uncommon for Internet companies to see a meteoric rise and fall (it’s practically become the rule), but eBay seems to be charting a different narrative: The rise and fall. And rise. And fall.

eBay’s decline this time is happening differently. The company is literally splintering apart in the form of corporate spinoffs. Last September, under pressure from boardroom bully Carl Icahn, eBay unveiled a plan to break off PayPal into a separate company later this year. Last week, after the company reported earnings, eBay announced another surprise spinoff: its Enterprise business, which will either launch an IPO or be partially sold to another company.

eBay Enterprise is a modestly growing division that is less visible to consumers using PayPal and the e-commerce site. As part of Donahoe’s turnaround, eBay began helping traditional retailers manage their online sites. Chains like Toys’R’Us, Ace Hardware and Dick’s Sporting Goods have signed up, bringing eBay $1.2 billion in revenue last year. Last quarter Enterprise revenue rose 9%, against a 1% decline in the year-ago quarter.

PayPal is also thriving, growing steadily at around 19% for the past couple of years. And so the weak part of the post-spinoff trio will clearly be eBay itself, the lean marketplace rump that will be left once the choicer meat is sliced away. Its revenue grew by 6% in all of 2014 and only 1% in the fourth quarter–the big quarter for retailers because it includes the holiday shopping season.

Excluding volatile foreign exchange rates, eBay’s marketplace rose 5% last quarter, but even that is disappointing considering the performance of other online retailers. ChannelAdvisor, which has long tracked sales on e-commerce sites, estimated that eBay’s sales during the holiday season–basically, November and December–rose 7.3%, well below the mean growth of 16% for all sites it tracks. Amazon’s grew 27% in the period. But what ChannelAdvisor calls “third party” retailers, everything from BestBuy to NewEgg to Tesco to Rakuten, rose 34%.

Parsing e-commerce sales is still a matter of guessing at a fragmented market, but here’s the bottom line for eBay: It’s not just that auctions aren’t popular now, it’s more that eBay’s transition to regular e-commerce has hit a wall. Its Web site redesign is already dated. It’s struggling to stay high in Google searches. Many of its most trusted sellers can also be found on other sites, like Amazon. eBay is just one of many shingles they hang out these days.

Which is too bad for online shoppers because often the prices and shipping charges on eBay make for cheaper than Amazon and elsewhere. But shoppers are often too harried to compare prices these days. Sites like Etsy and Alibaba seem to have more momentum, while Pinterest and Zulilly are where many go to impulse buy online. Meanwhile, Best Buy and others are doing better at reaching out to their customers online.

The result is that there’s little momentum left for eBay, once the champion of e-commerce momentum. No one dances around and sings “I did it eBay!” anymore. Even Donahoe & Co. are throwing in the towel to a certain extent. The site remains a very nice place to buy—rather useful if you bother to figure it out—but at the end of the day just one of many online marketplaces. The addiction that made eBay a star has left eBay behind.

So, it seems, have PayPal as well as the Enterprise business that Donahoe built. That’s okay with shareholders because they now have a chance to invest in PayPal and the non-consumer ecommerce business, while selling their shares in the good old eBay that once ruled our online shopping impulses. The legendary auction site will soon become the auctioned goods, only with fewer and fewer bids as the clock ticks away.

MONEY The Economy

Why These 5 Companies Are Laying Off Thousands of Workers

eBay Inc. office building, San Jose, California.
Kristoffer Tripplaar—Sipa USA

The economy is on the mend. Unemployment rates are down. So what's up with all these companies slashing jobs by the thousands?

Here’s some explanation—note we used the word “explanation” not “justification”—for why a handful of companies are laying off large chunks of their workforces even as the economy is on the upswing and unemployment is falling month after month.

eBay: 2,400 jobs
On Wednesday, eBay announced it would be cutting 2,400 jobs in the first quarter of 2015. The company says that the layoff figure includes positions that are unfilled, so the actual number of people losing their jobs will be less than 2,400. What’s more, eBay points out that the figure represents only 7% of the company’s total workforce. (Are we the only ones surprised to hear that eBay currently employs 34,600 people?)

Among the factors influencing the layoff decision: “Weak holiday sales” and revenues that have been lower than analysts expected, as well as a company restructuring in anticipation of the spinoff of eBay’s online payment service PayPal. The company said it may also spin off a third division, eBay Enterprises, which runs e-commerce operations for other companies, explaining in a statement: “It has become clear that [eBay Enterprise] has limited synergies with either business, and a separation will allow both to focus exclusively on their core markets.”

As for weak sales, one reason eBay is suffering is that, unlike Amazon—which effectively uses its Amazon Prime membership program to create legions of shoppers who make the vast majority of their purchases at its site—many eBay customers use the site randomly and haphazardly rather than habitually. “It’s the infrequent shopper that comes two, three, four times a year,” eBay CEO Donahoe told USA Today. “They didn’t come back at the rate we thought.”

American Express: 4,000 jobs
During the course of 2015, AmEx plans on cutting costs by trimming 4,000 jobs after failing to meet long-term revenue growth target of 8%. The Wall Street Journal pointed to “a stronger dollar, a weak December for retail sales and the sharp drop in gas prices” as forces that hurt the company’s fourth quarter results—which actually showed revenue and profits increasing, just not enough to satisfy investors. The 4,000 layoffs represent 6% of AmEx’s total workforce of roughly 63,000.

Baker Hughes & Halliburton: 8,000 jobs
The two energy companies agreed to merge last autumn, and both ended the year strongly, with Halliburton posting revenues up nearly 15% and Baker Hughes achieving record revenues for the quarter. Nonetheless, in light of plunging crude oil and gas prices, oilfield services provider Baker Hughes announced plans for layoffs of 11% of its workforce, roughly 7,000 employees, while Halliburton plans for about 1,000 job cuts of its own.

“This is really the crappy part of the job, and this is what I hate about this industry frankly,” Baker Hughes CEO Martin Craighead said this week in a conference call with analysts. “This is the industry, and it’s throwing us another one of these downturns, and we’re going to be good stewards of our business and do the right thing. But these are never decisions that are done mechanically.”

Schlumberger: 9,000 jobs
Another oilfield services company, Schlumberger also reported surprisingly strong fourth quarter results despite the steep drop in oil and gas prices—and it too recently announced big-time layoffs. Last week, the company said it had laid off 9,000 employees worldwide in late 2014 as profits fell and demand for oil retreated.

Read next: Here’s What You Really Need to Advance Your Career

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