Today, you can buy and sell literally anything on eBay, from cars and antiques to clothes and electronics, and everything in between. But back in the mid-1990s, eBay was just getting started, and founder Pierre Omidyar wasn't sure his idea would take off.
Originally known as "AuctionWeb," the online auction website was launched in September 1995 from a spare room in Omidyar's Silicon Valley townhouse. It was the first site to facilitate direct person-to-person auctions. To test his creation, Omidyar listed a $30 laser pointer that he had purchased a few weeks earlier but had stopped working. Amazingly, even though he admitted that it was broken, a bidding war soon began, pushing up the $1 starting price to $14.83. The lucky buyer was Mark Fraser, who figured he would save money by purchasing and fixing the broken gadget rather than buying a new one. He still owns the laser pointer more than two decades later.
List it on eBay:
- eBay acquired PayPal in 2002, which massively boosted the success of both ventures.
- Today, eBay is valued at $11.3 billion, with 183 million buyers and 1.6 billion listings.
- In the United States, a car or truck is purchased on eBay every three minutes.