eBay – Short History

In: News

11 Jan 2009

eBay Inc.: A Short History

eBay was born over Labor Day weekend in 1995, when Pierre Omidyar, a computer programmer, wrote the code for an auction website that he ran from his home computer.

Today, Omidyar’s hobby is known as eBay, the world’s largest online marketplace – where practically anyone can sell practically anything at any time. It’s an idea that BusinessWeek once called “nothing less than a virtual, self-regulating global economy.”

With a presence in 39 markets, including the U.S., and approximately 84 million active users worldwide, eBay has changed the face of Internet commerce. In 2007, the total value of sold items on eBay’s trading platforms was nearly $60 billion. This means that eBay users worldwide trade more than $1,900 worth of goods on the site every second.

The benefit to consumers is clear: eBay provides an open trading platform where the market determines the value of items that are sold. Over the years, the site has become a cultural barometer of sorts, providing a view into what objects consumers want most at any time.

Since its initial public offering in 1998, the company has continued to innovate and connect people – and not just through its marketplaces. Two critical acquisitions have made eBay Inc. a global leader in online payments and communications as well.

PayPal enables any individual or business with an email address to securely, easily and quickly send and receive payments online. Acquired by eBay Inc. in October 2002, PayPal builds on the existing financial infrastructure of bank accounts and credit cards and uses the world’s most advanced proprietary fraud prevention systems to create a safe payment solution. Today, PayPal is a global leader in online payment solutions: It has 149 million registered users and is accepted by millions of merchants worldwide – on and off eBay. PayPal’s Q1 2008 global total payment volume of $14.4 billion accounted for nearly 9 percent of worldwide eCommerce.

Acquired by eBay Inc. in October 2005, Skype is the world’s fastest-growing Internet communication company that has revolutionized the way people talk online. With more than 309 million registered users as of early 2008, Skype allows people everywhere to make unlimited voice and video calls online for free using its software. Skype is available in 28 languages and is used in almost every country on Earth. This business unit generates revenue through its premium offerings, such as calls (using its software) made to and from landline and mobile phones; voicemail; call forwarding; and personalization, including ringtones and avatars. In addition to its presence on eBay, Skype has relationships with a growing network of hardware and software providers.

Other key acquisitions have strengthened eBay Inc.’s portfolio of ecommerce companies, including shopping.com, a pioneer in online comparison shopping; Stubhub, a leading online marketplace for the resale of event tickets; rent.com, the most visited online apartment listing service in the U.S.; StumbleUpon, an online solution that helps people discover and share content on the web; and market-leading online classifieds sites including LoQUo.com, Intoko, and Netherlands-based Marktplaats.nl. The company has also grown its classifieds business through Kijiji, which launched in the U.S. in 2007.

*Data pulled from eBay website.  For the latest company data, please refer to the press releases and Fast Facts sections of the newsroom at http://news.ebay.com.

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