The Ebay Story

by : Mikel Beck

The eBay Story

Compared with other dotcom companies launched almost at the same time as eBay, none has ever reached the level of success and popularity among a very huge client base than that of eBay's. Throughout its existence, the company remained steadfast in surviving the bubble burst, but also maintained if not improved its position in the market today.

What is eBay?

eBay is the largest online auction and shopping website that lets people from around the world sell and/buy their wares. As such, it offers online auction hosting, electronic commerce, virtual shopping mall, and with its acquisition of Paypal and Skype, an online payment system VoIP services for its users.

The Beginning Of eBay

Just like other online companies that were launched at around the same time, eBay traces its modest beginnings in San Jose, California on September 4, 1995 when computer programmer Pierre Omidyar put up "AuctionWeb" as part of a website for his online consulting firm Echo Bay Technology Group. For this, Omidyar tried to register the domain name, but failed as gold mining company Echo Bay Mines had already taken it. So he settled for the shortened domain name

First Item Sold

Story came around that eBay was put up to help Omidyar's fiancee, Pam Wesley sell PEZ candy dispensers. It was later reported to be a PR stunt to give a human emotional interest story to the beginnings of eBay. But just the same, the company recognizes the myth as its headquarters has a wall display filled with homage to Pez dispensers.

To test the waters, Omidyar sold the very first item online, his very own broken laser pointer. To his amazement, a bidding materialized, and the item was sold for $13.83. A few years later, Omidyar's AuctionWeb took off and revolutionized active online trading site for sellers and bidders of ordinary, rare, or valuable collectibles, computers, vehicles, equipment, appliances and other items.

eBay, The Company

In 1997, eBay got venture funding and officially changes its company name to eBay. It's defining moment came on June 10, 1999, when a 22-hour crash turned an otherwise worst moment for the company into an incident that won millions of user's deeper trust for the company. During the 22-hour crash that day, upon management directive some 400 employees of eBay went out of their way to call sellers to apologize for the temporary glitch. Ebay's unanticipated action won a lot of admiration from eBay users around the world.

The Ever-Expanding eBay

1999 saw the start of eBay's acquisition of other online companies. It went on the purchase auction sites and companies such as, Mercado Libre, Lakau, iBazar,, EachNet,, Internet Auction Co.,,, Gumtree, Loquo,, Opus Forum, Meetup, and

But among its more significant acquisitions are the 2002 $1.5 billion Paypal buy-out, and the VoIP company Skype for $2.6 billion in stock and cash in 2005.

Today, there are 135 million eBay users around the world. As of December 2005, eBay Inc.'s revenues has risen 39% at $4.55 billion, and net income also at 39% of $1.05 billion. The bulk of the increase in income is attributed to higher sales in the US and other international markets.