Former eBay director of global resilience David Harville has pleaded guilty to colluding with other eBay executives in a harassment campaign against two of the company’s critics. The Guardian. eBay is known to us as the place people go to resell GPUs with a 300% markup, but it can be a source for good deals on PC components and rare games in box– and, as seen in this shockingly bizarre story, free spiders.
Ina and David Steiner run a news site, EcommerceBytes, which covers online retailers. The pair caught the attention of eBay executives after publishing a few articles critical of the company. A group of former senior and executive level employees was accused of coordinating a harassment campaign against the couple in June 2020.
the Steiners boxes of live cockroaches and spiders were reportedly sent, a funeral wreath and a bloodied pig mask in retaliation for his reporting. The group is also accused of sending pornography addressed to David Steiner to a neighbor, and Harville reportedly traveled to Boston, near the couple’s Massachusetts home, with the intention of installing a tracking device in his car.
In addition to Harville, five other eBay executives were charged, including a former senior manager of global intelligence as well as a former senior manager of “special operations” on the company’s global security team. If this is the first time you’ve discovered that eBay has a “special operations” branch for its security team, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Another former executive, James Baugh, pleaded guilty to the plot last month.
In addition to the criminal case brought against these six employees, the Steiners sued eBay and its former CEO, Devin Wenig, for the conspiracy in 2021. Wenig stepped down as CEO in 2019 and has denied any wrongdoing.
This terrible story of corporate misconduct is all the more surprising because of its lack of subtlety or common sense. The typical executive’s playbook on ruining a normal person’s life avoids breaking the law personally to do so. Furthermore, as cutting as the Steiners’ reporting, these high-profile, well-paid executives had everything to lose and very little to gain by getting their hands dirty and harassing the Steiners.
I don’t think I ever expected the corporate overlords of the dark future to act like the thugs of Fargo.