Monday, May 26, 2008
When Peter Thiel launched PayPal a decade ago, he had a vision of a global payments mechanism which would accelerate the withering-away of the nation-state. And then he sold it to eBay. eBay's latest failure to transform the international monetary system is quite literal; for almost two weeks, PayPal has had a bug which prevents it from collecting cross-border payments for subscriptions — this while its new president, Scott Thompson, has been touring the globe. The error: a bit of code in a drop-down menu. Subscriptions are a small part of PayPal's business, though vital to the complaint-prone blogging class. Regardless, it's a trivial bug that should have taken minutes, not weeks, to fix; that eBay has not yet done so would seem to speak to a profound rot in its technical organization — which Thompson headed up as CTO before his promotion.