eBay turns 10

FatbackFatback 6,746 Posts
edited September 2005 in Strut Central
September 7, 2005
Pierre Omidyar's Perfect Store Turns 10
By ADAM COHEN, NYT

Over Labor Day weekend 10 years ago, a programmer named Pierre Omidyar took a chance on an odd little Web site called AuctionWeb. Most of Silicon Valley spent the summer of 1995 dreaming up ways to use a newfangled technology called the Internet. This was his: an auction site that let anyone list an item or place a bid. He wrote the code in his spare bedroom and posted it on his personal home page, which had a whimsical domain name: www.ebay.com.

Mr. Omidyar wanted to create a perfect market, something economists had only imagined, where everything sold for its ideal price. He was also a populist. It looked to Mr. Omidyar, who had a ponytail and wore Birkenstocks, as if the freewheeling Internet was being taken over by well-financed dot-coms. He wanted to "give the individual the power to be a producer as well as a consumer."

Everyone told him that strangers wouldn't trade online with strangers, particularly in a format as unwieldy as an auction. But first the techies came, buying and selling computer parts. Then the collectors came - at one point, more than 6 percent of all sales were for Beanie Babies. Then everyone came. EBay, with 64 million active users, is on track to sell more than $40 billion in goods this year.

I interviewed Mr. Omidyar a few years ago when I was writing "The Perfect Store: Inside eBay," and he waxed nostalgic about the early days, when eBay was a true community. Users chatted endlessly on its message boards, and when they had problems they sent e-mail to [email]Pierre@ebay.com.[/email] One of the greatest innovations was the Feedback Forum. Buyers and sellers rated each other after a transaction, and the ratings were compiled and placed after users' names. EBay became a virtual small town, where people were known by their reputations.

Mr. Omidyar eventually took eBay public, which meant investment bankers and feverish growth. It's a lot bigger and more commercial today, but elements of the founding vision clearly remain. EBay is still egalitarian: mom and pops and corporations are largely treated the same. The Feedback Forum is still going strong. And then there is the famous multicolored eBay logo: it was intended, its designer told me, to evoke a 60's sensibility - to have "a little bit of the ponytail about it."

EBay is a spectacular success, and not only because Mr. Omidyar is now worth $10 billion. It may not be a perfect market, but it has revolutionized pricing. The "value" of many things today is what they sell for on eBay. It has also given ordinary people an economic foothold online. Selling on eBay is the primary or secondary income for an estimated 724,000 Americans. EBay also did one thing Mr. Omidyar was not thinking about 10 years ago: it proved that even in these daunting times, one person with a good idea can still change the world.

  Comments


  • FatbackFatback 6,746 Posts
    Charleston SC 1998



    I think it was 1998 when a friend emailed a url for me to get a kick out of how much these sold out Dave Mathews tickets were going for: $500.



    I laughed.



    A few months later, another friend sent me a url for his OG Saxophone Colossus LP: $795. I fell out.



    I had collected about 200 OG jazz records over the years and usually thought $60 was way out of my range. I was also getting them for half price from the record store where I worked (Papa Jazz).



    I put up two lps: a Miles Davis and a Hank Mobley. I walked away with $1200. Some Japanese dude sent me cash too!



    The rest is hi$tory.







    What???s your first eBay story?



    Why did you first look at it?



    What was your first transaction like (buyer or seller)?




  • Let's not forget the real reason eBay was created:






  • What???s your first eBay story? Why did you first look at it? What was your first transaction like (buyer or seller)?

    My 7th anniversary on eBay was last Friday. I honestly don't remember what brought me there, I probably saw it mentioned in a computer magazine, as it was a place to find things, sold by people who were willing to part with it. It wasn't a means of income, there was no agenda, they didn't sell stocks, and it was a good year before "the phenomenon" happened. Yet in 7 years my feedback # is only 1218. I need to step up in the game.

    I do like the "everything else" section. Outside of the wonders of porn (which at least now one can download at Empornium), there's a lot of homemade videos, and I'm not talking of the sex variety. Just stupid shit people want to put together in the hopes of it selling. Like that 10 year old kid a few years ago who sold videos of him playing with his feces. Now THAT'S talent.

    I'm amazed when people can actually sell two pounds of dirt. Or "borrow my life for a day".

  • holmesholmes 3,532 Posts
    Mid '99 was when I joined, have sold a few records since then. I remember seeing someone advertise a human kidney back then and also someone else listed their mother-in-law.

  • FatbackFatback 6,746 Posts
    here's my first feedback:



    "Smooth transaction, quick response, highly recommended !!! A+++++++++++++"

    yoshiki-2000 ( 119) Apr-13-99 22:23



    thanks Yoshiki!





    first negative too (that first one stings. i have 4. one as seller...3 as buyer):



    "pas de nouvelles apres mon e-mail alors que j'ai paye !!!!!!!" jean_12 ( 96)



    Reply by beylotte: FALSE! PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ DESCRIPTIONS BEFORE YOU BID!!!



    fucking frog bitch.


  • motown67motown67 4,513 Posts
    Let's not forget the real reason eBay was created:






    In reality, I think that was a story that eBay itself spread to give it a more friendly, non-corporate feel to it.

  • I know copping records off the bay sure as hell ain't like it was in 98-99.............

    Big thing was having Seller's end auctions early and mispelled auction titles. Still goes on to this day but cats ain't ending shit like they used to, and mispelled auctions are getting found by users automatically now with the handy dandy poo-butt ebay spell checker....

    Some of my early best come ups on grails was off of ebay. Not much anymore though.

    First ever eBay purchase for me believe it or not was a pair of shoes............


    ~Crates

  • BrianBrian 7,618 Posts
    i remember when i first made an ebay account, you didn't have to have a credit card linked to it to be a seller and i accidently listed my shit as a dutch auction when it totally wasn't. the people who bid on it weren't very happy and i forgot that account information.

  • luckluck 4,077 Posts
    Just this: what does "eBay" mean?

  • SoulOnIceSoulOnIce 13,027 Posts
    Reading this did make me need to go and see when it was I actually joined:

    BlackMask
    Member since: Jun-06-98
    Location: United States

    I took that name because back then what I was mostly shopping for was this:



    I think the first records I bought were all rockabilly, that was my obsession at the time...in fact I remember these were the first two records I bought, a Buddy Holly 6 record set and a Gene Vincent 10 record set:



    I remember the real deals to be had back then, too...things I would search for that came up with 8 results back then, come up with 102 now - so many auctions I would just be the only bidder and get stuff for nothing! Although some things are cheaper now, just because of the sheer volume.

    More importantly, there were a lot more record and used bookstores around to spend my time in before eBay came around, and now there are only a shrinking handful



  • Member since: Jun-01-98

  • In reality, I think that was a story that eBay itself spread to give it a more friendly, non-corporate feel to it.

    Really? I had to look for myself, because I had never heard of this, and you're right:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20020614/0142236_F.shtml
    http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/061702/tec_124-2028.shtml

    Man, all these years. The truth revealed.

  • Just this: what does "eBay" mean?

    I always figured that the "Bay" part had to do with an actual docking bay, or a harbor, a transaction of an item between two points or blah blah. Eh, semi-close. Found the actual answer from the following link:
    http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/061702/tec_124-2028.shtml


    Another aspect of eBay shrouded in the fog of recent history is the company name. Conventional wisdom around headquarters has been that "Bay" referred to a safe harbor for trading goods, or was a tribute to nearby San Francisco Bay, according to Pursglove.

    The truth is not so elegant, according to Cohen's book. Before starting AuctionWeb, the site that became eBay, Omidyar had a one-man consulting firm he called Echo Bay Technology Group because he thought the name sounded cool.

    When it came time to register the Internet address, EchoBay.com was taken, so he shortened it to eBay.

  • CosmoCosmo 9,767 Posts
    Man, I love me some Pez. Cherry jawns are outta sight.

  • SoulOnIceSoulOnIce 13,027 Posts



    Another aspect of eBay shrouded in the fog of recent history is the company name. Conventional wisdom around headquarters has been that "Bay" referred to a safe harbor for trading goods, or was a tribute to nearby San Francisco Bay, according to Pursglove.

    The truth is not so elegant, according to Cohen's book. Before starting AuctionWeb, the site that became eBay, Omidyar had a one-man consulting firm he called Echo Bay Technology Group because he thought the name sounded cool.

    When it came time to register the Internet address, EchoBay.com was taken, so he shortened it to eBay.

    I always figured it was because "e-buy" was taken, and he just took a shot with "e-bay"

  • parsecparsec 5,087 Posts
    Haha, I have a little bit of an ebay addiction. I try to curb it but goddamn theres so many dope records out there. Especially that regional shit that I just don't see up here. Plus everytime I cross an lp off the ol wantlist I seem to add another one, ugh. I'm going on vacation for a week tomorrow, which means no ebay for a week. My checking account is gonna love that. My next goal is to start selling on ebay, looking forward to getting that down. Anybody else like finding records you already have on ebay and hipping strutters to em?

  • i first sold records in an online auction in '95 on a website of my own. i would change the prices by hand. obviously this created problems with "sniping" at the end of the auction. if i had just gotten my college roommate to do some programming i could've been the billionarie.

  • emyndemynd 830 Posts
    Man, I love me some Pez. Cherry jawns are outta sight.

    Dude said "outta sight."

    -e

  • faux_rillzfaux_rillz 14,343 Posts

    first negative too (that first one stings. i have 4. one as seller...3 as buyer):

    "pas de nouvelles apres mon e-mail alors que j'ai paye !!!!!!!" jean_12 ( 96)

    Reply by beylotte: FALSE! PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ DESCRIPTIONS BEFORE YOU BID!!!

    fucking frog bitch.

    "No the news after my e-mail whereas I have pay !!!!!!"

  • Options
    After preaching in my fellow record store owners ear about how great eBay's business model was (all they provided was a forum to trade, interface and software and SOME[/b]customer service - basically they are the world largest fence), he ended buying $20,000 worth of their stock very early (partially with his student loan - if only I could have been so smart with my money, but guess what, i was spending it all on records) and became pretty wealthy because of it. Ended up paying my tuition my last year.

    KEvin in Canada.

  • Options
    Let's not forget the real reason eBay was created:






    Keep a lookout for the 50's Pez gun that shot them into your mouth (and was discontinued for obvious reasons). I sold one a while back for over $2000. I made over $30,000 of the Pez and Mickey Mouse collections I bought for $500 (and actually heistated!) off a very old antique dealer.

    K.



  • I had collected about 200 OG jazz records over the years and usually thought $60 was way out of my range. I was also getting them for half price from the record store where I worked (Papa Jazz).

    no shit you used to work at papa jazz ? i used to love that store. got my copy of heath brothers marchin on there for $7 in 1994. that must have been a fucking dream job.

  • Member since: Mar-19-98

    Man I remember my friend was telling me about ebay and how all these great records were going for so cheap. Most of the bargains though I've gotten have all been in the last couple of years.

    I remember i put up all these drum breaks and samples up on ebay and got zero bids. Must have been about 25 records and didn't get one bid. I put up some good shit too like Turtles battle of the bands and stuff like that.

    Then I remember the first person to make lots of money off breaks on ebay was Supreme like in 99. After that every other record auction advertises as breaks when they saw how much money he made.

    I remember some dude selling sealed Stark Reality for 249 and not getting any takers. He had to put it up twice or three times and didn't get any takers.

    I remember dude from the old cratelist getting a copy of Stark Reality for 100 because the seller listed it as a kids record or something and he didn't know the value.

    First dudes from soulstrut to buy off me was shanti om and doris the funkasaurus (secret chimp on here):

    Recommended! Nice guy, quick shipping, items in nice shape. A+
    doris-the-funkusaurus ( 389Feedback score is 100 to 499) Jul-15-98 02:03

    Item was exactly as specified, fast shipping. I highly recommend this guy, A+!!!
    shanti_om ( 820Feedback score is 500 to 999) Mar-26-99 11:27

    I wish I could remember what records those were.




  • FatbackFatback 6,746 Posts
    that must have been a fucking dream job.

    yes it was.

  • that must have been a fucking dream job.

    yes it was.

    did you ever get baked in the store while working there ?

    I remember these dudes that worked there used to go in the back and about a few minutes later the store strangly started smelling like marijuana.

    Some more papa jazz finds:

    digable planets-blowout comb for 8
    diamond-stunts blunts and hiphop sealed for 7
    david axelrod-songs of innocence 3
    george benson-erotic moods 1

  • FatbackFatback 6,746 Posts
    I was actually on the local news once talking about the store. The store staff elected me to do it because I was the least baked that day....and I could barely put two words together.

    good times!

  • First thing I bought was a minidisc player for 100 a few years ago. Forget if it was 2000 or 2001.

    I started selling because my brother put his credit card to sell his Gamecube and I ended up selling a good amount of records, cd's and tapes. Sold shoes and other things too. I love eBay it is my main way to have money without a job. I was lucky to get the sellers account before 18 as that's been a not high but constant income for a while. I ain't got no bills to pay so it's selling on there.

    Lately I've been buying LOTS to sell to stores and resell the hidden gems in the lots. Also Buy It Now's are making me a few hundred right now.
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