The History of eBay – Pierre Omidyar And His Amazing Start Up Story

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A History of eBay.com

eBay‘s origins lie in San Jose, California. On September 5th, 1995, the American computer programmer named Pierre Omidyar founded a personal auction website called – AuctionWeb. One of the first items that was sold on the site was a not working laser pointer, at the price of $14.83. Astonished, Pierre contacted the buyer and asked him if he really understood that the pointer he bought was actually broken. In the email in which the buyer responded, he wrote: “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.” ACtually, eBay was just a side work for Pierre. One day his Internet provider told him, that he had to to upgrade his account to  “business type”, because of the big traffic to his auction site. The price increase would be from $30 monthly to 8 times more – $250 per month. This made Omidyar to start charging the users of the site, who eventually wanted to pay him with no hashes. A big number of signed checks started flowing into his mailbox. So big, that he couldn’t handle them and this is how he hired his first employer –  Chris Agarpao. A year later, in 1996, Omidyar hired Jeffrey Skoll, who served as the company’s first president. Later that year, they began dealing with Electronic Travel Auction in order to sell plane tickets and travel accessories on the site. This partnership turned out to be very extremely profitable for both parties. Till the end of 1996, AuctionWeb hosted about a quarter of a million auctions and this number was rapidly growing. Only for January 1997, the number of hosted auctions for tickets reached the astonishing two million.

eBay logo – source: http://commons.wikimedia.org

eBay’s success was assured from then on out. In the same successful year, eBay arranged nearly seven million dollars of funding from Benchmark Capital, a venture capitalist firm, and was able to use that money to expand its horizons. Shortly thereafter, eBay hired Meg Whitman as the company’s President and CEO. In March 1998, eBay earned its 500,000th user, held 30 employees, and enjoyed revenues of over four and a half million dollars in the United States. eBay went public as a company on September 21st, 1998. The company’s founder, Omidyar, and its first president, Jeffrey Skoll, who held majority stakes in the company, became immensely wealthy. By the end of the first trading day, eBay was trading for $53.50 a share.


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