eBay Inc. (en.wikipedia.org) is an American Internet company that manages eBay.com, an online auction and shopping websitedot-com bubble; it is now a multi-billion dollar business with operations localized in over thirty countries.[not in citation given] eBay expanded from its original "set-time" auction format to include "Buy It Now" standard shopping; shopping by UPC, ISBN, or other kind of SKU (via Half.com); online classified advertisements (via Kijiji or eBay Classifieds); online event ticket trading (via StubHub); online money transfers (via PayPal) and other services. in which people and businesses buy and sell a broad variety of goods and services worldwide. Founded in 1995, eBay is one of the notable success stories of the
The online auction website was founded as AuctionWeb in San Jose, California, on September 3, 1995, by French-born Iranian computer programmer Pierre Omidyar as part of a larger personal site that included, among other things, Omidyar's own tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Ebola virus. One of the first items sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer for $14.83. Astonished, Omidyar contacted the winning bidder to ask if he understood that the laser pointer was broken. In his responding email, the buyer explained: "I'm a collector of broken laser pointers." The frequently repeated story that eBay was founded to help Omidyar's fiancée trade Pez candy dispensers was fabricated by a public relations manager in 1997 to interest the media. This was revealed in Adam Cohen's 2002 book, The Perfect Store, and confirmed by eBay.
Chris Agarpao was hired as eBay's first employee and Jeffrey Skoll was hired as the first president of the company in early 1996. In November 1996, eBay entered into its first third-party licensing deal, with a company called Electronic Travel Auction to use SmartMarket Technology to sell plane tickets and other travel products. Growth was phenomenal; in January 1997 the site hosted 2,000,000 auctions, compared with 250,000 during the whole of 1996. The company officially changed the name of its service from AuctionWeb to eBay in September 1997. Originally, the site belonged to Echo Bay Technology Group, Omidyar's consulting firm. Omidyar had tried to register the domain name echobay.com, but found it already taken by the Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company, so he shortened it to his second choice, eBay.com.
(Echobay.com is now owned by Echobay Partners, Ltd., a private equity firm based in Nevis.)
In 1997, the company received $6.7 million in funding from the venture capital firm Benchmark Capital.
Meg Whitman was hired as eBay President and CEO in March 1998. At the time, the company had 30 employees half a million users and revenues of $4.7 million in the United States. eBay went public on September 21, 1998, and both Omidyar and Skoll became instant billionaires. eBay's target share price of $18 was all but ignored as the price went to $53.50 on the first day of trading.
As the company expanded product categories beyond collectibles into almost any saleable item, business grew quickly. In February 2002, the company purchased IBazar, a similar European auction web site founded in 1995 and then bought PayPal on October 14, 2002.
In early 2008, the company had expanded worldwide, counted hundreds of millions of registered users, 15,000+ employees and revenues of almost $7.7 billion. After nearly ten years at eBay, Whitman made the decision to enter politics. On January 23, 2008 the company announced that Whitman would step down on March 31, 2008 and John Donahoe was selected to become President and CEO. Whitman remained on the Board of Directors and continued to advise Donahoe through 2008. In late 2009, eBay completed the sale of Skype for $2.75 billion, but will still own 30% equity in the company.
In July 2010, eBay was sued for $3.8 billion by XPRT Ventures which accused eBay of stealing information shared in confidence by the inventors on XPRT's own patents, and incorporated it into features in its own payment systems, such as PayPal Pay Later and PayPal Buyer Credit.
December 20, 2010, EBay Inc. says it will acquire a German online shopping club - brand4friends for 150 million Euro ($197 million) to strengthen the company fashion business in Europe. It is subject to regulatory approval and expected to close it in the Q1 2011.
Millions of collectibles, decor, appliances, computers, furnishings, equipment, vehicles, and other miscellaneous items are listed, bought, or sold daily on eBay. In 2006, eBay launched its Business & Industrial category, breaking into the industrial surplus business. Generally, anything can be auctioned on the site as long as it is not illegal and does not violate the eBay Prohibited and Restricted Items policy.intangibles can be sold, too. Large international companies, such as IBM, sell their newest products and offer services on eBay using competitive auctions and fixed-priced storefronts. Separate eBay sites such as eBay US and eBay UK allow the users to trade using the local currency. Software developers can create applications that integrate with eBay through the eBay API by joining the eBay Developers Program. In June 2005, there were more than 15,000 members in the eBay Developers Program, comprising a broad range of companies creating software applications to support eBay buyers and sellers as well as eBay Affiliates. Services and
Controversy has arisen over certain items put up for bid. For instance, in late 1999, a man offered one of his kidneys for auction on eBay, attempting to profit from the potentially lucrative (and, in the United States, illegal) market for transplantable human organs. On other occasions, people and even entire towns have been listed, often as a joke or to garner free publicity. In general, the company removes auctions that violate its terms of service agreement.
Beginning in August 2007, eBay required listings in "Video Games" and "Health & Beauty" to accept its payment system PayPal and sellers could only accept PayPal for payments in the category "Video Games: Consoles". Starting January 10, 2008, eBay said sellers can only accept PayPal as payment for the categories "Computing > Software", "Consumer Electronics > MP3 Players", "Wholesale & Job Lots > Mobile & Home Phones", and "Business, Office & Industrial > Industrial Supply / MRO". eBay announced that starting in March 2008, eBay had added to this requirement that all sellers with fewer than 100 feedbacks must offer PayPal and no merchant account may be used as an alternative. This is in addition to the requirement that all sellers from the United Kingdom have to offer PayPal.
Further, and as noted below, it was a requirement to offer Paypal on all listings in Australia and the UK. In response to concerns expressed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, however, eBay has since removed the policy on the ebay.com.au website requiring sellers to offer PayPal as a payment option.
In April 2006, eBay opened its new eBay Express site, which is designed to work like a standard Internet shopping site for consumers with United States addresses. It closed in 2008. Selected eBay items were mirrored on eBay Express, where buyers shop using a shopping cart to purchase from multiple sellers. The UK version was launched to eBay members in mid-October 2006 but on January 29, 2008 eBay announced its intention to close the site.
The German version, eBay Express Germany, was also opened in 2006 and closed in 2008.
At the 2008 eBay Developer's Conference, eBay announced the Selling Manager Applications program (SM Apps). The program allows approved developers to integrate their applications directly into the eBay.com interface. The applications created by developers are available for subscription by eBay members who also subscribe to Selling Manager.
eBay maintains a number of specialty sites. eBay Pulse, for example, provides information about popular search terms, trends, and most-watched items. Other ebay Community Content includes the Discussion Boards, Groups, Answer Center, Chat Rooms, and Reviews & Guides. eBay has a robust mobile offering, including SMS alerts, a WAP site, Java ME clients, an Android OS application and an Apple iPhone application available in certain markets.
Best of eBay is a specialty site for finding the most-unusual items on the eBay site. Users can vote on and nominate listings that they find.
eBay.com offers several types of auctions.
- Auction-style listings allow the seller to offer one or more items for sale for a specified number of days. The seller can establish a reserve price.
- Fixed price format allows the seller to offer one or more items for sale at a Buy It Now price. Buyers who agree to pay that price win the auction immediately without submitting a bid.
- Fixed price format with best offer allows the seller to accept best offers. If a buyer submits a best offer, the seller either rejects or accepts the best offer. If the best offer is not satisfactory, a seller may submit a counter offer to the buyer. Best offer is not available for auction style listings. In addition, best offer is not available in every category. Sellers also meet specific requirements in order to sell with best offer.
In its earliest days, eBay was essentially unregulated. However, as the site grew, it became necessary to restrict or forbid auctions for various items. Note that some of the restrictions relate to eBay.com (the U.S. site), while other restrictions apply to specific European sites (such as Nazi paraphernalia). Regional laws and regulations may apply to the seller or the buyer. Generally, if the sale or ownership of an item is regulated or prohibited by one or more states, eBay will not permit its listing. Among the hundred or so banned or restricted categories:
- Tobacco (tobacco-related items and collectibles are accepted.)
- Alcohol (alcohol-related collectibles, including sealed containers, as well as some wine sales by licensed sellers are allowed)
- Drugs and drug paraphernalia
- Nazi paraphernalia
- Bootleg recordings
- Firearms and ammunition, including any parts that could be used to assemble a firearm as well as (as of July 30, 2007) any firearm part that is required for the firing of a gun, including bullet tips, brass casings and shells, barrels, slides, cylinders, magazines, firing pins, trigger assemblies, etc. Crossbows and various types of knives are also forbidden.
- Police and emergency service vehicular warning equipment such as red or blue lights and sirens (antique or collectible items are exempt)
- Used underwear (see Panty fetishism) and dirty used clothing
- Forged, illegal, stolen, or confidential documents, which include passports, social security cards, drivers licences, voter registration cards, birth certificates, school documents, medical records, financial information, government license plates, government classified information, or CarFax documents. Any item which is used to modify documents is also restricted.
- Human parts and remains (with an exception for skeletons and skulls for scientific study, provided they are not Native American in origin)
- Live animals (with certain exceptions)
- Certain copyrighted works or trademarked items.
- Lottery tickets, sweepstakes tickets, or any other gambling items.
- Military hardware such as working weapons or explosives.
- Sexually oriented adult material, which must be listed in the "Adult Only" category, notwithstanding certain items prohibited:
- Child pornography
- Materials deemed obscene, including bestiality, necrophilia, rape, coprophilia, and incest
- Used sex toys
- Services including any sexual activity
- Links to sites that contain prohibited items
- Adult products that are delivered digitally
- Virtual items from massively multiplayer online games, restrictions which vary by country
- Ivory products
- Knives, other than cutlery, are prohibited in the UK following media pressure about the sale of items assessed by police to be "illegal"
- Many other items are either wholly prohibited or restricted in some manner.