Podcast: Nitzan Mekel-Bobrov on AI, the Future of Shopping Online, and the Value of Building In-House

Hear from eBay's Chief AI Officer on a recent episode of the Bloomberg Intelligence podcast 'Tech Disruptors.'

eBay’s Chief AI Officer, Nitzan Mekel-Bobrov, recently joined the Bloomberg Intelligence podcast "Tech Disruptors" to discuss his role, how he sees the rapidly changing landscape of AI, eBay’s place in the larger ecommerce industry, and more.

Nitzan noted that eBay is in a unique position to take advantage of new tools, thanks to the combination of a powerful private cloud and integration with public cloud providers. “Doing this type of AI at scale, in real time, is a massive undertaking for companies of all sizes,” he said. “But that combination allows eBay to be at the forefront of AI in ecommerce.”

Nitzan described innovating with AI in a way that aims to move artificial intelligence from a curiosity to a core technology that impacts all aspects of eBay’s business. “What’s really interesting about playing this role at eBay is that we’re a two-sided marketplace,” Nitzan said. “That gives me visibility into how AI can impact both sides of the equation,” meaning both sellers and buyers.

On the seller side, Nitzan talked about our magical listing tool, which makes it easier, faster, and more fun to list items — even those with complex specifications.

For buyers, AI plays a major role in locating specific or hard-to-find items and can even interpret problems and present solutions. For example, a car enthusiast can start by sharing the problem their vehicle is having. “We then pull what is needed, what options there are, and show that in a way that doesn’t force you to skim through listings to find the right thing,” said Nitzan.

Some AI features benefit both sellers and buyers, including the work the company is doing with image generation. Because images are provided by users, there can be a huge variance in image quality and quantity – until AI enters the picture (literally!) to improve and expand the visual offerings.

Looking to the future, Nitzan touted the benefits of AI shopping assistants – evolved versions of chatbots that have knowledge of specific focus categories and can even act with autonomy. “Instead of agents executing tasks, we’re about to be able to give them desired outcomes and have them figure out the best approach,” said Nitzan.

To listen to the full interview, listen to the audio above, find Tech Disruptors on the podcast app of your choice, or head over to the episode page on the Bloomberg site.