eBay: The First 10 Years.
Yes, you read that correctly: ten years. eBay was created in Septemb
er 1995, by a man called Pierre Omidyar, who was living in San Jose.
He wanted his site - then called 'AuctionWeb' - to be an online mar
ketplace, and wrote the first code for it in one weekend. It was one
of the first websites of its kind in the world. The name 'eBay' com
es from the domain Omidyar used for his site. His company's name was
Echo Bay, and the 'eBay AuctionWeb' was originally just one part of
Echo Bay's website at ebay.com. The first thing ever sold on the si
te was Omidyar's broken laser pointer, which he got $14 for.
The site quickly became massively popular, as sellers came to list al
l sorts of odd things and buyers actually bought them. Relying on tru
st seemed to work remarkably well, and meant that the site could almo
st be left alone to run itself. The site had been designed from the s
tart to collect a small fee on each sale, and it was this money that
Omidyar used to pay for AuctionWeb's expansion. The fees quickly adde
d up to more than his current salary, and so he decided to quit his j
ob and work on the site full-time. It was at this point, in 1996, tha
t he added the feedback facilities, to let buyers and sellers rate ea
ch other and make buying and selling safer.
In 1997, Omidyar changed AuctionWeb's - and his company's - name to
'eBay', which is what people had been calling the site for a long ti
me. He began to spend a lot of money on advertising, and had the eBa
y logo designed. It was in this year that the one-millionth item was
sold (it was a toy version of Big Bird from Sesame Street).
Then, in 1998 - the peak of the dotcom boom - eBay became big busines
s, and the investment in Internet businesses at the time allowed it t
o bring in senior managers and business strategists, who took in publ
ic on the stock market. It started to encourage people to sell more t
han just collectibles, and quickly became a massive site where you co
uld sell anything,