Yes, it’s been ten splendid years since the day that the term ‘shopping’ was given a completely new definition. A man living in San Jose named Pierre Omidyar created eBay on Labor Day, Monday, 4 September 1995. It was one of the first websites of its kind. Omidyar’s website, which was then called ‘AuctionWeb’, was designed to be an online marketplace. As a matter of fact, its first code was written over one long holiday weekend. The ‘e’ in ‘eBay’ actually stands for ‘Echo’ which was a part of Omidyar’s company name, Echo Bay. Since the URL ‘www.echobay.com’ was unavailable, it was named as eBay. The ‘eBay AuctionWeb’ was originally just one part of Echo Bay’s website at www.ebay.com. The very first thing to be sold on the site was Omidyar’s broken laser pointer, for which he received $14.
Soon the site gained massive popularity, as people could sell anything and everything and there was always someone ready to buy it. A significant point to note is that, since the site supports trading between any two dealers across the globe, factors like trust, authenticity and time have to be given very high consideration. EBay has done well to come up with methods to maintain and enforce these issues among all traders.
Initially Omidyar had designed the site such that he would receive a small payment on each sale made on the website. This money was used in the enhancement and development of his site. Finally, at one point of time, the money he was making from the website totaled up to more than he was making at his job. So he quit, and started working on the website on a full time basis. Later in 1996, he added feedback facilities to let traders rate each other to make their transactions safer.
In 1997, Omidyar changed the names of both, his company and that of AuctionWeb, to ‘eBay’, since people were more accustomed to this name. As the company continued to do well, he started getting more innovative. He started looking at more avenues like advertising, marketing, website developing, logo designing etc to further enhance the company’s state. This was the year when a toy version of Big Bird (from Sesame Street) made history. It was the one-millionth item to be sold on eBay!
The era of the dotcom was when eBay really cashed in. Slowly but steadily the company was changing from just a website, to a well-established organization which consisted of business strategists, marketing consultants, managers and executives. These people took eBay to the people and launched an extremely successful public offering. The features like trust and authenticity now started becoming firmly established and people started trading expensive items as well. As a matter of fact, eBay is one of the few companies to have survived to end of the dotcom boom, and is running as strong as ever today.
It was just a matter of time before eBay would look to go global, and they did so in 1999 by launching sites in the UK, Australia and Germany. It continued its expansion and buying spree by taking over an online retailer known as half.com and introducing the ‘Buy it Now’ facility in 2000. A couple of years later they bought PayPal, an online payment service.
Today, Pierre Omidyar has made approximately $3 billion from eBay. He still serves as Chairman of the Board and interestingly enough, also keeps a personal weblog at http://pierre.typepad.com. To emphasize on how well eBay is today, it is believed that for every $100 spent online across the globe, 414 is spent right here on eBay. Now isn’t that a staggering number!!