eBay was originally founded under the name AuctionWeb in 1994 by Pierre Omidyar in San Jose, California. The first item sold on the site was a broken laser pointer. Omidyar called the auction winner, asking if he realized the laser was broken. The client said he knew and wanted it because he collected broken laser pointers! This led Omidyar to believe that, no matter what someone wanted to sell, there was someone who would be willing to buy it.
Growth was rapid. Omidyar kept working on eBay, but only as a side job. It wasn’t until his ISP told him he would have to start paying for a business site. This forced Omidyar to start charging customers for using the site. He was sure that would be the of his endeavor, but no one seemed to mind.
In January 1997, the site was hosting 2 million auctions per month. In September 1997, the name was officially changed to eBay. Also in 1997, the company received venture funding from Benchmark Capital. Meg Whitman was hired as CEO in March 1998. At that time, the company had 30 employees and more than half a million users.
eBay went public in September of 1998 on the NASDAQ and can be found under the ticker symbol: EBAY:US. Omidyar became instant billionaires. eBay’s target share price of $18 was virtually ignored as the price went to $53.50 on the first day of trading.
In 2005, the company acquired Skype, an online phone and messaging service.
By 2008, the company had expanded worldwide and is one of the few success stories from the dot-com bubble.
In late 2009, eBay sold the majority of their interest in SKYPE, retaining only a 30% interest.
On September 30, 2014, eBay announced it would spin off PayPal into a separate publicly traded company.
On January 31, 2018, eBay announced that they would replace PayPal as its primary payments provider with Netherlands based start-up, Adyen.
Online sites such as eBay are changing the American marketplace. Target’s popular clothing line Vineyard Vines was sold out at most stores within an hour, but some items ended up selling on eBay for double the original price.
An apparent misunderstanding led people to believe that eBay was soon going to accept cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, in 2019. eBay officials state that they have no plans to accept cryptocurrency in the future.
The eBay corporate office is still located in San Jose, California.