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Real Business : Issue 1 2010
BUY IT, SELL IT, LOVE IT! The saying "build it and they will come" has never been truer than in the case of online auction and shopping website eBay. 12 Real Business ISSUE 1, 2010 WRITER: ABBY MURISON FROM SMALL THINGS HOW TO... TWO MINDS WHAT I'M WORKING ON DASHBOARD INFRONT To check out eBay and eBay Inc's increasingly popular websites, go to: eBay: www.ebay.com Pierre Omidyar's philanthropic investment firm: www.omidyar.com PayPal: www.paypal.com Skype: www.skype.com Craigslist: www.craigslist.org Kijiji: www.kijiji.com Gumtree: www.gumtree.com Shopping.com: www.shopping.com StumbleUpon: www.stumbleupon.com WHILE EVERY ENTREPRENEUR thinks big, it s unlikely that, in 1995, then 28-year-old Pierre Omidyar knew that 14 years later he d be chairman of a publicly listed company with US$8.541 billion in revenue and US$1.779 billion in net income. e company? Online auction and shopping behemoth eBay. It s widely held that eBay was founded to allow Pierre s fiancée to trade Pez dispensers with other collectors. While amusing, this tall tale was dreamed up in 1997 by eBay s public relations team. However, the truth is no less bizarre. Pierre s experience with buying tech stocks, where favoured buyers got the best deals, led him to the view that every buyer should have equal rights to buy a product at market value. An auction struck him as the perfect way to allow buyers to establish that market value. Pierre started eBay in California, as AuctionWeb, a small section of the website for his consulting firm Echo Bay Technology Group. Even the name was accidental: when Pierre discovered his EBAY EMPLOYS OVER 15,000 STAFF PERTH, AUSTRALIA, resident Ian Usher sold his entire life for $384,000 in June 2008. is included his house, belongings, an introduction to his friends and a trial period at his work. ACCORDING TO A 2006 AC NIELSEN POLL, AN ESTIMATED 1.3 MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE MAKE THEIR PRIMARY OR SECONDARY INCOME FROM TRADING ON EBAY. More than 10 4 MILLION listings are available on eBay at any given moment. preferred domain name echobay.com was already taken, eBay.com was born. Designed as an online auction, the site makes its money through a complex system of fees for listing items and a final fee once a listing sells. e first item sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer, for the grand sum of US$14.83. And that was not to be the last unusual listing: the site has been the marketplace for everything from single cornflakes and animal skulls to fighter jets and even towns. In 2004, a 10-year-old, partially eaten, toasted-cheese sandwich, which purported to show the image of the Virgin Mary, was sold through eBay for US$28,000. eBay also has its giving side. In December 2005, a cooked brussels sprout was listed in the United Kingdom and sold for £99.50. It was frozen and posted to the winner. e proceeds were donated to poverty-alleviation charity Tearfund. is sparked a number of copy-cat fundraisers and, in the United States and United Kingdom, eBay now offers sellers the option to donate some or all of their proceeds to the charity of their choice. While eBay has a tried and tested formula, the company hasn t been afraid to move with the times. Collectors and small-time second- hand traders form the core of eBay s users, now numbering over 233 million members internationally. However, more recently, growth has come from the buy it now option -- which has made eBay the perfect online shopping outlet for small businesses. After all, why set up your own online shop if you know that eBay can deliver guaranteed traffic? With over 30 eBay sites in different countries, it s easy for people to trade locally and in their own currency. eBay Inc. has also made some canny acquisitions: it now owns all or part of PayPal, Skype, Craigslist, Kijiji, Gumtree, Shopping.com and StumbleUpon. What is the secret of eBay s success? Simple -- it makes online retail accessible to everyone and stays true to its slogan: Whatever it is, you can get it on eBay . NUMBER CRUNCH N N nN n ON an ON an IO le ha LIO ble th LI b th LL lab th ILL ila et MIL ail re MIL va reMI v oreM av Mor 4M ea y Mo 4M re ny Mo 4 are any M04 ar an t M 04 sa ta nt. M 0gs at n 10 g a en 1 ing y me 1 tin ay m sti Bay om lis B mo lis eB m l e nm n n on en o ive giv gi g g
Issue 2 2009
Issue 1 2012