10 Questions for Tod Cohen

May 12, 2010

Tod Cohen, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Government Relations, is celebrating his 10 year anniversary with eBay. To help him reflect on the last 10 years we decided to sit down and have a chat with Tod. All of the questions came from members of Tod\'s team.

Tod-Cohen-Bobblehead.jpg1. What is your favorite anecdote about the PayPal acquisition?

At the first eBay Live in Anaheim, I had a chance to meet Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Anton Ohno at the Billpoint booth (Billpoint was the eBay product that was meant to compete with PayPal).Yes, some of us believed that having Apollo Ohno sign Billpoint swag would sway our users away from PayPal. Whoever hired Olympic Gold Medalist Ohno was wrong.

2. As directions can change frequently and with little warning in GR, can you share your best practice(s) solutions you have encountered in your 10 years?

Never exaggerate the situation. Try not to take absolute positions (i.e., things change). Treat people with respect no matter what. Practice humility.

3. What is the most interesting / impressive government official encounter or meeting you had in last 10 years? What\'s the weirdest question you ever received from an elected official?

One of the most interesting meetings was with Indian Minister of Home Affairs Shivraj Vishwanath Patil in January 2005. I met with Minister Patil two weeks after the head of our Business in India, Avnish Bajaj, was arrested and incarcerated for seven days and immediately after the country had been by a massive tsunami. It was an interesting time.

The strangest question I have ever been asked also took place in India, when a potential candidate for a GR post asked if we were planning on paying bribes in that country. I said no, as it is a federal crime to pay bribes. The best part was that he said thank you, but that he wasn\'t interested in working with us and immediately ended the interview!

4. What was the first thing you ever sold on eBay? What\'s the coolest purchase you ever made on eBay? What is your favorite listing on eBay in the last 10 years?

During the Auction for America after 9/11, I sold Millennium Dome pencil sharpeners for $12. All of the funds went to the American Red Cross.

The coolest purchase I have ever made was for an authentic Palm Beach County Voting Booth used in the disputed 2000 Bush v. Gore Presidential election. Ballots and hanging chads included.

My favorite listing is either the 2008 Honda Accord I sold on eBay or the 2010 Volkswagen Touareg I bought on eBay.

5. What is the best airport you\'ve been to?

My favorite airport is Hong Kong - great shopping and great food. The Cathay Pacific lounge is very good and the udon noodles are spectacular.

6. Where is your favorite place to shop offline? Who is your favorite eBay seller?

7. If eBay were one of the Cohen brothers\' movies, which one would it be?

  • ‘O\'Brother, Where Art Thou\'

Also, what is your favorite movie?

  • \'Local Hero\'

What is favorite movie with an eBay or PayPal reference?

  • eBay - \'Men In Black II\'

  • PayPal - \'Breaking Bad\' (television series)

8. In your wildest dreams, if you had to choose one, what would be your ultimate athletic achievement?

Skiing to the North and South Poles

9. What has been your most inspiring moment while working for eBay Inc. Government Relations?

Every day working with the amazing employees and customers from around the globe.

10. What are the best meals you have had while traveling for the company?

  • Washington DC - The Palm

  • Berlin - Borchardts

  • Shanghai - M on the Bund

  • Salt Lake City - Crown Burger

  • Brussels - Ogenblik

And because we can\'t keep it to 10 ...

11. Are the rumors about there being major eBay/PayPal GR meetings in South Africa between June 11 and July 11 of this year true?

At this point, untrue but arrangements are being considered as we speak.

To help Tod celebrate his anniversary, the eBay Inc. Government Relations Team has commissioned two Tod Cohen bobblehead dolls. Tod received one and the other one is being auctioned off for charity. One hundred percent of proceeds of his charity auction will benefit Doctors Without Borders, one of Tod\'s favorite charities. The auction raised over $500 .

Be sure to watch the video from Tod\'s colleagues and team congratulating him on his 10 years with eBay. Happy anniversary, Tod!