Meet eBay Employee Peat Bakke
A Portland-based Senior Engineering Manager details his eBay journey over the last 20 years as a seller turned employee.
By: Francesca Hellebrandt, eBay News Team
Part of what makes eBay unique are the mosaic of voices that contribute to our overall culture, from various backgrounds and walks of life, that lead to a better customer experience. In our Life at eBay series, we speak to employees from around the world on what it’s like to work at eBay through their eyes.
Peat Bakke started selling sports cards and collectibles on eBay 20 years ago in the formative years of the global marketplace. Over the years, his ties to the company have grown exponentially since becoming a full-time eBay employee in 2015.
Based out of Portland, Peat brings two decades worth of user experience to his role as a senior engineer on the regional development team for North America. Combining buyer and seller insights with his passion to help others, Peat builds the features and services our customers use every day.
We spoke with Peat on his role at eBay, what makes the company so special to him and more. Here’s what he had to share.
On eBay’s mission: The thing that I love about eBay is that it's all about people. I mean, it really is about individual human beings. How do we connect people through commerce? How do we make people's lives better? How do we give people opportunities? It’s something that I've participated in myself, as a buyer and a seller. My kids get excited about sticking things in the mail, just like I do. It’s really about connecting people, and I think that's something that's uniquely eBay — certainly, at the scale we’re at.
We're here for individual buyers and sellers, for small businesses, for people who are cleaning out their garages, people with weird hobbies, people who don't want to pay a premium on the tools they use for work. They're looking for something that may be used lightly, something that's been pre-loved. It's all about enabling our customers to get things done and giving them the freedom to do what they want to do.
On eBay’s impact on his life: One of the biggest things that eBay has done for me is to find new communities of people who are into weird collections. I got into collecting paper money a few years ago, and I specialize in out-of-circulation, hyperinflationary currencies. And guess what? There were thousands of people around the world who were already buying and selling in this niche market. I buy from countries like Brazil, Germany, Japan, and many African countries have a pretty good market in these currencies as well. It's fascinating, and I love how it brings people together.
On what eBay means to him: eBay means opportunity. It truly is a global marketplace, and I think that's just amazing. When eBay started in the ‘90s, it was totally transformative. Today, we take a lot of this for granted, but eBay in particular is so big and reaches so many people, that it's just remarkable. Another thing I love about eBay is the selection. It’s the random, weird things that make buying and selling on the platform so delightful.
On what it’s like to work at eBay: Working at eBay, the values are pretty consistent. Outside, it's about opportunity and connecting and enabling people through commerce. Inside, we believe that.
I'm an engineering manager and work with my team to build the features and services that our buyers and sellers use on a daily basis. Everyone on my team is on eBay. We're not just employees — we're also the customers, which is extremely important in improving the shopping experience for the people we serve.
On eBay Portland: It’s a great place to meet fellow nerds. The Portland office impressed me from the moment I walked in. Not because it was a big, shiny tech giant but because everyone was running around wearing black metal shirts, with long hair, and it was a little bit of rock-and-roll. It speaks to the eccentricities and the delight of finding strange and wonderful things and sharing it with each other. The Portland office does a great job of representing that.
On working remotely during COVID-19: In January of this year, I was asked to hire a brand new team, and it was just as we were entering quarantine and starting to work from home. eBay didn’t miss a beat. Instead of pulling back on plans, eBay supported me through the hiring process, and now we have 30 people working on this team. Distributed all over the country, most of our new employees have never met each other in person. Despite a global pandemic, we’ve successfully built a brand new team, and that’s a huge accomplishment.
On his favorite eBay moment: About a decade and a half ago, I made a unique connection with a camera seller in Japan. I bought some cameras that were fairly niche products and weren't too expensive. My M.O. is not defined by the most expensive, exciting thing — I look for the weird things that other people might also find interesting.
So, I found this seller who happened to be selling out of his garage. He spoke very little English, but we started with just a couple of transactions on eBay. He knew he had some of the interesting things that I knew I couldn't get here in the states. So, we started there and moved into some more email communication. I ended up building an FAQ for his platform of cameras that ended up on Wikipedia, and we worked together on a couple more projects. That just goes to show that eBay’s not just a place where you buy and sell things; it’s a place where you forge connections with others you may never have otherwise met.
On what he’s learned along the way: eBay has given me the opportunity to grow professionally unlike anywhere else I’ve ever worked. I've been very fortunate to have great managers and people who look out for me, so I try to pass that along to others as well. I've built some really solid friendships over the years and look forward to building more!
On what the next 25 years hold: In 25 years, I hope to be retired and surrounded by all of the weird stuff that I've collected. For eBay, I hope we really lean into being weird. There's so much delight that can be found in just the oddest corners of our catalog, which is so big. Being able to find the little strange things that just bring you a little bit of happiness is where the joy of your day is. I hope that we are able to continue to bring that joy to other people.
Explore engineering careers at eBay at careers.ebayinc.com.