« Global Trust Exchange -- What for? | Main | I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV »

May 01, 2003


Ross Mayfield

The issue of personal and institutional speech isn't a new one, its just that some have trouble recognizing the boundry. Email has taught us many of the norms we must follow. These days every employee or executive must be careful with their words, how they fly and the context that's presented.

On a blog, a disclaimer is a necessary good. Being conscious of the audience and permanence of your words is your guide.

But any business can be clueful to recognize that every employee is a PR representative because modes of communication are so pervasive. An explicit effort should be made to make all employees conscious of norms and boundaries -- and then set free their informal but guided expression. To talk about their lives, hobbies as well as their business.

PR and Advertising are largely dead -- and companies that embrace informal personal speech with conscious will surely be rewarded. Of course it helps if blogging is your business ;-).

Kevin Marks

The upcoming Nike decision at the Suprem Court coudl affect this strongly, if a letter to the New Yoork Tiems is deemed to eb commercial speech.

This could force corporations to clearly delimit speech by employees.

Hossein Derakhshan

Dear Pierre,

Welcome to the blogosphere! Persian blogosphere is very proud of you as a half-Iranian sussesful businessman.

You can find more about Persian blogosphere through my English weblog at http://hoder.com/weblog


Hello Mr.Pierre I have saw your weblog for the first time I have read a little about you and I know how you got famouse and stuff.
well good luck in life



as a suggestion ( if u r mr omidyaar )
please try to set a solution to let iranian people use paypal at least for their payments, i think it would bi possible if u stablished a branch in europe ,


Doug Kenline

True leaders will blog openly and honestly for the people. Keep on bloggin' Pierre. The people need to know the truth.

The President of the United States should be required by law to blog for the people in his own hand in the first person every day.

Blog for your family. Blog for your extended family. Blog for their extended families. Blog for the children.

Day Eighteen Of Death Fast In Austin, Texas


Please help Gene Chapman as the spirit leads.


hi Mr.Pierre ,
many greetings on your new blog ,
it's a first time i visit your weblog , and i'm happy as a iranian that you are as famouse and rich as now !
wish bests for you.


Well, you've pretty much nailed the dichotomy between private and public speech.

Someone with a higher profile than most has to be careful to delineate between their public and private statements. But most people are willing to allow for that distinction as long as it's made clear which is which. A disclaimer on the blog homepage should do the trick (along the lines of 'these are my own private opinions and not those of ...')

If you are severely concerned about ruffling feathers, there is always the option of starting a moderated newsgroup/mailing list...

In any case, I wouldn't worry about it too much. The rewards are worth the risk. Welcome to blog-world.


It is an interesting question that you asked. I guess we live in a society in which everything is personified. I mean, each company, organisation, insitution, has a "face". That face, call it the PR guy, the sponsor, the benefactor, the spokeperson, reflects the view of that entity, and is naturally synanimous with it (look at Ari Fleischer and the White House, Tariq Aziz and Iraq, Nike and MJ...).

So, due to the fact that a person reflects a whole organisation, that person ceases to be a "person" and becomes rather like a brand. Naturally, we cannot seperate the person from the brand, and thus don't give that person a space for individuality. Those who manage NOT to be the face of their organisations (you and ebay is a half good example), tend to keep their personality and have some opportunity to seperate themselves from their professional entities.

Lord Ben

Pierre, I don't really think it's all that different. Members of my family read my blog I've found out. They googled my name and found my blog, now I have to stop swearing. Someone from work found it too so I can't complain about work or talk about it much either. So the scale is different because you're in charge of things worth millions and I make $14 an hour. But really, it's not much different. A relatively small pool of people read my blog but most know me personally so I can't do anything dumb without offending them.

That's the risk anyone takes when giving their opinion whether they're blogging or just chatting over dinner. Being online just makes you easier to quote.

george nimeh

hi pierre,

glad you're blogging and glad you're asking questions about speech.

you blogged, "i'm free to express myself independent of my affiliations ..."

ideally, this would be the case. i believe that you can express yourself in a 1) personal and 2) public manner in your weblog. however, i feel that since your speech is public, you will ultimately be held "accountable" for what you blog.

in the end, people won't care where they read/heard/saw something you wrote/said/did. they'll only care that it was you. separating where you post an opinion is one thing. trying to convince people that you only have that opinion at certain times or in certain places is another.

maybe you should start asking questions about identity after you get through speech. ;-)



hi , My lord . I'm persian bloger . Take care . Bybye .


Dear Pierre,

I was looking to find your email address in your weblog but i could not find it. Would you please be kind enough to tell me via email how I can contact you (it's private). I know you are a famous person but I know you are a humble person too;so I hope you respond to my request.

Best wishes,


hi dear pierre, i'm from iran and since hoder wrote about your weblog in his weblog(http://www.hoder.com/weblog/) i think a lot of iranians have come to visit your weblog, good luck for you in blogging as your e-business:) it would be nice to know about pierre omidyar in his own, up-to-date words...
and this post about what must be said in a weblog is very well-written, i'm agree with you... (i have a weblog in persian, its name means traveller of moonlight alleys)

Pierre Omidyar

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts and kind welcome.

Aboozar Azarnoush

Are you really the boss of eBay ?
If 'yes' I have a few idea on a few e-commerce projects , witch is worth to tell. If you are interested.please send me an email .
cause I don't have yours.

I will be very happy to get your email.


this mail is write farsi
nemidunam in chandomin mail yek javane irani ast vali please in mail ro kamel bekhunid
iman nazeri 20/20/1382
mashhad-street felestin-bad az 4 rahe aval pelake48


man ye javane 19 sale ahle iran hastam
man az hodude 2 sale pish ke zendegi mr .omidyar ro khondam .un ro be onvane yek hamvatane movafagh olgooie khodam gharar dadam ta inke sai kardam ba pierre sohbat konam vali movafagh nashodam email shakhsie uno peida konam
va ba search kardan to google be in site residam
va mikham in mail man ro shakhsan khode mr omidyar bekhoone va agar hanooz khodeshun ro yek irani midune javabe mail man ro shakhsan bede chon man ba ishun dardele ziady daram
be omide inke in mail be dast mr.omidyar berese va man betunam javabesho daryaft konam

Gideon Strauss

Oh, this is going to be fascinating and amusing to watch!


"personal" vs. "institutional" speech...

Can they be separated or is the distinction/dichotomy artificial?

I also think this musing by PO segues into the trust exchange exchanges on the other thread on this page.

Let me therefore refer to Pierre's main claim to fame--his business.

E-Bay is all about trust and it is plagued by those who take advantage--sellers and buyers but I suspect mostly by sellers. E-bay is one of the most fascinating examples of purely commercial information and speech ever invented.

I would be a lot more interested in hearing Pierre address trust and commercial vs. personal speech (and ethical standards) in the context of his commercial empire, which is one of the most significant new economy business models ever constructed.

So, I would like read Pierre addressing these issues in the context of his commercial interests--but purely from a personal perspective.

Even if your partners and board (and pr people) had no objections, do you think this is possible Pierre. If yes, then the distinction/dichotomy can be made real; if no, then the distinction/dichotomy is rendered meaningless...at least for me.

P.S. I am a journalist who has evolved a practice in strategic advice and communications implementation (also do new media startups and have a practice in securities industry regulatory affairs re: enforcement, compliance and governance).

I think most CEO's of major corporations should be doing a CEO ' blog' as part of overall corporate disclosure and investor relations online communications package. Whether said blogs are purely exercises in corporate speech/pr or try to humanize the CEO by recognizing Pierre's dichotomy and separating speech patterns and/or purposes is a fascinating quandary...think Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, or your local supermarket owner...is it good business to separate/dichotomize...does the public have the right to expect to be able to relate to such types via "personal speech"....how does one distinguish between honest thought and the endless, non-stop pitch?

to be continued...maybe here, maybe there...

partha debnath

please send me all category's some free megazine's,catalogs,
Brochures,software,CD's,posters, book's and ect., also
send some free products, demo model & sample if you have.
If any business opportunity please suggest me and let me know.
(please reply me at partha_kachi2003@yahoo.com)

my mailimg address is
Partha Debnath,
C/O.Sankar Dey,
Northbanamali pur, Near Citty Office.
PIN - 799001.

thank you

Gideon Strauss

I thought it was going to be amusing.

Doug Kenline

Yes fascinating and amusing to watch as another member of the elite neglects to blog for the common people for days on end. What's going on Pierre? Help the people. Help the country. Help the children. What are you doing to make this a better world? Please tell us?


Pierre Omidyar

Lame excuse, I know, but I've been too busy to blog. Nor have I had anything terribly useful to say, so I've kept quiet.

Jamie Gilcig

Pierre no matter what type of spin you answer this question the facts are that a person's celebrity, no matter where that celebrity comes from, effects the weight of their words.

If the Dixie Chicks had no Q level then their comments wouldn't have mattered. You, because of your work in life, are a visable person.

Each and every thing you say will have that stain to it. You announced that you switched to Apple and it made a news site (www.bourque.org)

A few years back Steven King played a little experiment out by writing a book under an assumed name to see the results.

Sales did not jump until it leaked out that it was a nom de plume.

I think it's part of the package that comes with success, celebrity, infamy, or failure.

And it's very hard to run away from.


Jo-Anne Zedrick


Here's a good example of how a person's celebrity effects the weight of their words:

A quote from you: "Ahh, yes, managing expectations can be very tricky, especially when you are managing and enabling a marketplace. :-)"

My response to that quote:

Here's an expectation that I guess you can't manage: as an Ebay buyer who has been defrauded, I don't think it is unreasonable to have Ebay's Fraud Protection Program reimburse 100% of my loss, especially in light of the fact that "Omidyar estimates that only 30 sellers out of a million fail to deliver on their promises" (CBS).

If you truly are a "philanthropic geek" remember that charity starts at home and that without buyers there would be no Ebay and without Ebay you may not have all those billions.

Thanks for your time and attention.
Jo-Anne Zedrick

The comments to this entry are closed.