Recently Departed Magento CTO And Co-Founder: eBay Doesn’t Understand The Meaning Of Open

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Last year, eBay acquired Magento, developer of an open-source e-commerce platform for around $180 million. Magento became part of X.commerce, a combined open platform business from eBay and PayPal. A year after the acquisition was announced, Magento co-founder and CTO Yoav Kutner has left eBay. While fellow Magento co-founder Roy Rubin sent Kutner off with a warm farewell, Kutner doesn’t have such nice things to say about eBay and X.commerce, according to this post on Quora.

In response to the question of why he left eBay, Kutner responded (Kutner confirmed to us that he posted this response): I will answer and give much more information over the next few weeks as to the reasons I had to leave Magento. As for now I can say that (very) short term I would not be worried about the ‘open’ part of Magento, but as I have learned eBay and the folks at X.commerce don’t really understand the meaning of open and have a hard time explaining and defining it to them selves and to others. As such, long term, it would be very interesting to see if Magento will continue to stay open in the manor the people behind Magento and I meant it to be.

The Magento e-commerce platform, basically enables merchants and brands to have control over the look, content, SEO, digital marketing and functionality of their online storefronts. Originally, Magento was a product developed and marketed by Varien, a decade-old e-commerce software and consultancy company. When eBay invested in the e-commerce platform in March 2010 was Magento effectively incorporated as a stand-alone venture. As we reported last year, there was some discontent from Magento employees around stock and equity.

Last Fall, eBay debuted X.commerce, which featured a “fabric” that stitched the eBay, PayPal, GSI Commerce and Magento platforms together with other partners to create new experiences for retailers and their customers. At the time, eBay had more than 200,000 developers building off the two platforms, plus the 450,000 Magento developers that were added via the acquisition.

Magento also launched an app store for its extensions. Developers could create applications on top of Magento, and retailers could use this functionality in their online storefronts via the app store.

We spoke to Kutner on the phone, and he reiterated that eBay is struggling with what open source means. “They are not an open source company, so defining this has been a bit of a struggle.” And while he doesn’t think eBay would discontinue Magento as an open source platform, he says eBay still has not figured out the “fabric” component of X.commerce, over a year after the acquisition

As for why he left, Kutner says the execs that coordinated the deal at eBay and PayPal were no longer with the company, and the vision of why to buy Magento and what to do with it was lost when they left. “I’m hopeful they will figure it out,” he added.

eBay released this statement when we inquired about Kutner’s views: X.commerce & Magento are fundamentally believers in open source and an open ecosystem, including our Magento Community and Enterprise editions. Beyond our ongoing efforts, we are committed to releasing a major upgrade in Magento 2 in late 2012/early 2013. Additionally, our X.commerce Fabric is generally available and is also released in an open format. “Open” for X.commerce means that source code is available to anyone to modify and customize in their environment. “Open” can also mean that beyond being able to take a copy, developers in the ecosystem can modify the primary source code and help accelerate the overall progress of Magento.

While it’s important to remember that this is just one perspective, Kutner’s account doesn’t paint a rosy picture for the state of Magento in eBay’s family or for X.commerce. Last week, it was revealed that X.commerce CTO Neal Sample was leaving eBay to join American Express. PayPal also recently lost product VP Sam Shrauger as well as Alyssa Cutright (who joined Square).

Update: It appears the Quora post was taken down by Kutner. We have a screenshot, which we’ve embedded below.