Monday, September 27

AuctionWeb and the broken laser pointer: how eBay began | Digital Trends Spanish

On September 3, 1995, programmer Pierre Omidyar created AuctionWeb in California, an online auction website. That day, without much expectation, Omidyar listed a broken laser pointer for $ 1 to sell through the new platform.

For a week, no one was interested in the broken item, but then bidders began to push the price of the pointer until it reached $ 14.83. To his surprise, someone ended up buying the item at that price. It was about Mark Fraser, a Canadian who, curiously, collected broken laser pointers.

This fact marked the beginnings of the immense website that, two years later, would be renamed as eBay. We are talking about a platform that remains current even today, managing online auctions and allowing people to buy goods from other people or from established companies, all on a single platform.

The idea for eBay started with two convictions from Omidyar. On the one hand, he believed that trading through the web had potential (and decided to test it by creating his own online marketplace). And, on the other hand, it has always believed that “people are inherently good” and that “a community that accepted a value system in a good way” was necessary.

That is why the service has been built on trust, either in the other person or in the way the platform works. In fact, in the early days of AuctionWeb, users sent their payments in the form of coins taped to an index card. There was no other option than just trusting that payment would arrive.

At first, the website was just a hobby for Omidyar and a way to make a little extra money. But after making his first online sale, the number of users grew so much that his internet provider had to insist that he switch to a business account.

After the account switch, Omidyar’s bill went from $ 30 to $ 250. So he started charging site users to transact there. Fortunately, people were willing to pay for the service without any hassle.

Thus the community, the site staff and also the horizons of the web expanded again, which even sold plane tickets with a third-party license agreement.

In early 1996 the website became a million dollar business and by 1997, it had already passed two million auction transactions. That year, the name officially changed to eBay and the company only continued to grow.

Over time, it was able to shed its reputation for “collectibles” and become the premier site online for people to buy and sell almost any item, even high-end commercial products.

Pierre Omidyar and eBay’s first CEO Meg Whitman. 1998. James D. Wilson / Getty Images

Today, eBay remains an e-commerce giant, although more competitors have emerged over the years. Alibaba and Etsy are platforms that can serve as alternatives, but Amazon is generally seen as eBay’s direct competition.

Although Amazon does not have the auction system that Omidyar’s site is famous for, both companies are e-commerce powerhouses with reputations to back them up. Both Amazon and eBay top the listings of the world’s best online shopping sites, earning billions each year from their massive number of users.

However, eBay has lost some ground in recent years. In accordance with StatistaAt the end of 2018, eBay had 179 million active buyers globally, but by the middle of this year, the number dropped slightly to 159 million. On the other hand, in June 2021, Amazon appeared as the most popular site online shopping globally, beating eBay in second place.

In its early days, Amazon was a place to go for books and music. Later, video games, software, electronic devices and toys were added, and little by little it was diversifying more and more until today. It expanded and created a whole customer-based ecosystem that delivers additional benefits and services (like Amazon Prime), something eBay didn’t necessarily do.

Still, eBay was the most recognized place to sell online for years. While it started out as a site for second-hand products, it was the starting point for small businesses who wanted to start their business quickly, with a 24-hour platform, low costs, and a more targeted audience.

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