eBay’s Martin Herbst Joins AIB’s Guest Lecturer Lineup
Martin Herbst is the latest addition to our distinguished team of Industry Guest Lecturers, and we’re excited to have a leader of such a high calibre on board. Martin is the Asia Pacific General Manager of the eBay Classifieds Group and is primarily responsible for Gumtree Australia. Under Martin’s guidance, the company undertook a huge rebrand in 2017 to underscore its connection to local community and celebrate its ten-year anniversary.
Martin’s relationship with eBay predates Gumtree, though. He first commenced with the company in 2006 and has been instrumental in the product development and monetisation of eBay’s various classifieds brands from their inception. Overall, he has 15 years’ experience launching eCommerce and digital media brands from start-up mode into robust, profitable businesses.
As well as leading strategy and operations for PayPal Mobile in the US, Martin has taken on GM roles at eBay classifieds businesses around the world, overseeing Gumtree in South Africa and Poland, eBay Classifieds in the US, and LoQUo in Spain.
Martin was born and educated in the United States, where he graduated from Colgate University with a BA in Economics. His first job after graduation was in banking at Brown Brothers Harriman on Wall Street. “I learned quite a lot about how companies work from a financial perspective: P&Ls, balance sheets, and analysing risk and opportunity,” he remembers, “but I also discovered that banking wasn’t for me.” He left after four years and went to the NYU Stern School of Business where he focused on media and entertainment, in particular, digital media. After obtaining his MBA, he went to work for Dow Jones.
After marrying and moving out to San Francisco in early 2006, he took a position with eBay focusing on monetisation strategy and development. The group of brands he was working with became the eBay Classifieds Group, and his career took off from there.
In 2012, the position of General Manager of Gumtree Australia opened up. “I knew the product really well and I knew that the competitive landscape and the business potential was huge. They were growing super-fast. I knew the team was really strong too. So, we moved out to Australia in 2013, and since then we’ve grown phenomenally. It’s just been an awesome ride,” Martin shared.
Having overseen Gumtree Australia’s evolution from start-up to scale, Martin is now leading the push to develop its commercial potential. That includes focusing on categories with revenue potential, such as cars and jobs, as well as bolstering Gumtree’s advertising offering in ways that complement the user experience.
“The Gumtree business model is a free, easy, local peer-to-peer marketplace. That creates vibrancy. It creates a flywheel effect. But to keep that value proposition free for our users, we have to indirectly monetise, and that comes from third-party advertising.”
As a passionate digital consumer himself, Martin looks forward to lending his thoughts to AIB. “I’ve been fortunate to have a career that I’ve built based off of my passion as a digital consumer. I’ve accumulated a lot of experience and insights that I think could be valuable to people considering a similar type of career path,” he says.
If there’s one thing he hopes our students will take away from his strategic management insights, it’s to take their time.
“Einstein is alleged to have said ‘If I had 20 days to solve a problem, I would spend the first 19 days understanding the question’. Understand your market, your potential customers and competition. Only then can you build the operating plan.”
As well as guest lecturing in our Strategic Management MBA subject, Martin will contribute valuable insights to the Managing People in a Global Context curriculum. Welcome, Martin!