Today in media history: Pierre Omidyar starts eBay

AuctionWeb, an online auction website that would later be known as eBay, was founded by Pierre Omidyar on September 3, 1995.

Posted below is an excerpt from one of the first AuctionWeb messages.

Hello folks,

Here is the current listing of non-computer items for auction at AuctionWeb:

http://www.ebay.com/aw/

All items are offered by the individual sellers, and anyone is free to bid on any item, or to add items, free of charge.

For more information about any of these items, please visit the AuctionWeb site at the above URL.

Cheers,

Pierre

AuctionWeb Listings

Click on the title to get an expanded description or to bid on that item. These items are not verified by AuctionWeb; caveat emptor. You may jump to a particular category using this list:
– Antiques, Collectibles
– Automotive
– Books & Comics
– Computer Hardware
– Computer Software
– Consumer Electronics
– Miscellaneous

In 2002 the CBS News program “60 Minutes” profiled the company.

The following New York Times story appeared at the time of eBay’s tenth anniversary:

“NEW YORK — Ten 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 the whimsical domain name www.ebay.com.

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 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.”

— “Meanwhile: Pierre Omidyar’s perfect store.”
By Adam Cohen, New York Times, Sep. 8, 2005

(Video from Corporate Valley: “Interview of Pierre Omidyar”)

In October 2013 Pierre Omidyar announced that he was working on a new project.

“As many of you know, I’ve had an interest in journalism for some time now. I’ve been working on Civil Beat for three years and through my philanthropic work at Omidyar Network and Democracy Fund, we’ve supported many efforts around the world related to media, citizen engagement, and government transparency and accountability.

Separate from my work with Omidyar Network and Democracy Fund, and as part of my growing interest to preserve and strengthen the role journalism plays in society, I explored purchasing The Washington Post over the summer. That process got me thinking about what kind of social impact could be created if a similar investment was made in something entirely new, built from the ground up. Something that I would be personally and directly involved in outside of my other efforts as a philanthropist.

….I’ll be sure to update you along the way as the new organization progresses.”

— “My Next Adventure in Journalism.”
By Pierre Omidyar, October 15, 2013.

He soon introduced First Look Media and The Intercept.

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  • SolomonBurke

    Barf