who-owns-ebay

Who Owns eBay?

eBay’s main shareholder is its founder, the billionaire Omidyar, who stepped down from the board of eBay. By 2020 he owned (and might still own 4.69% of the company’s stock) followed by other institutional investors, such as Vanguard (8.17%), Blackrock (7.98%), and FMR (Fidelity Investments) with 5.86%.

pierre-omidyar-net-worth
Pierre Omidyar is a technology entrepreneur andPierre Omidyar is a technology entrepreneur and founder of eBay. As of 2020, before he stepped down from the company’s board of directors, he still owned 4.69% of the company’s stocks, valued at over one billion dollars. Yet, over the years, he sold a good chunk of his stocks, making him a billionaire. founder of eBay. As of 2020, before he stepped down from the company’s board of directors, he still owned 4.69% of the company’s stocks, valued at over one billion dollars. Yet, over the years, he sold a good chunk of his stocks, making him a billionaire.

Origin Story

eBay is an online marketplace that was founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar, an Iranian-American software engineer.

Initially known as AuctionWeb, Omidyar created the platform as a hobby project where people could buy and sell items online.

eBay’s story is often told in the context of the dot-com bubble, but in this article, we’ll strive to add some extra context to what has transpired at the company over the years.

AuctionWeb

AuctionWeb was founded in 1995, with the first version hosted on Omidyar’s personal website.

According to the eBay website, Omidyar wrote the code for AuctionWeb over the Labor Day weekend and wanted it to be “dedicated to bringing together buyers and sellers in an honest and open marketplace.

Many believe Omidyar created the platform to sell his wife’s substantial Pez candy dispenser collection. However, this is a myth.

AuctionWeb was actually started because Omidyar was interested in the emerging potential of eCommerce. 

The first-ever transaction on AuctionWeb was the result of Omidyar selling a broken laser pointer to Canadian Mark Fraser. The product was listed for $1 and bidders drove the price up to $14.83 before it was sold.

Omidyar had intended to list the laser pointer as a test run and was astonished when someone was willing to pay money for it. When he contacted Fraser to verify whether he knew the product was broken, the latter replied “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.

Growth

After the first successful sale, traffic increased on the platform to the point where Omidyar’s ISP insist he switch from a personal to a business account.

When his monthly internet bill increased from $30 to $250, he decided to start collecting a fee from users to use the platform.

Omidyar hired Chris Agarpao (the first employee) to process mailed check payments and help coordinate the company’s operations in June 1996. In July, he hired Jeffrey Skoll as the company’s first president and quit his day job to devote himself to AuctionWeb full-time.

In 1997, AuctionWeb benefitted from the Beanie Babies trend after selling more than $500 million worth of the stuffed toys on its platform.

At the time, this represented more than 6% of the total volume. In the second quarter of 1997, Omidyar introduced seller feedback and the platform sold its millionth item.

AuctionWeb becomes eBay and IPO

In September, AuctionWeb was renamed eBay after Omidyar’s consulting firm Echo Bay Technology Group.

Since echobay.com was already owned by a mining company, ebay.com was registered instead and the name of the platform was shortened.

In what would prove to be one of the best venture investments of all time, Benchmark Capital invested $5 million to take a 22% stake in eBay.

After eBay’s successful IPO in 1998, Benchmark’s stake would grow to be worth $5 billion by 1999. Both Omidyar and Skoll also become billionaires after the company went public.

Around this time, the eBay board also hired Meg Whitman as president and CEO.

Expansion

Fresh off the success of Beanie Babies, eBay rapidly expanded beyond toys to nearly every product category imaginable. There were 12 million users on the platform by 2000 with the company’s acquisition of PayPal occurring in 2002.

By 2008, eBay was available worldwide with around 15,000 employees and revenue of $7.7 billion. Revenue has remained stable over subsequent years, with $10.42 billion in 2021 and $9.79 billion in 2022. 

Key takeaways:

  • eBay is an online marketplace that was founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar, an Iranian-American software engineer. Initially known as AuctionWeb, Omidyar created the platform as a hobby project where people could buy and sell items online.
  • AuctionWeb was founded in 1995, with the first version hosted on Omidyar’s personal website. According to the eBay website, Omidyar wrote the code for AuctionWeb over the Labor Day weekend and wanted it to be “dedicated to bringing together buyers and sellers in an honest and open marketplace.
  • In September, AuctionWeb was renamed eBay after Omidyar’s consulting firm Echo Bay Technology Group. Since echobay.com was already registered with a mining company, ebay.com was registered and the name of the platform was shortened. Much of the platform’s early success can be attributed to the Beanie Babies stuffed toy trend.

Related Visual Stories

eBay Business Model

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eBay’s core business is a platform business model that makes money from transaction fees through its marketplaces. In short, eBay primarily makes money by charging fees on successfully closed transactions. For instance, in 2021, on an $87 billion worth of gross merchandise value sold on eBay, the company generated $9.77 billion in transaction revenues at an 11.19% take rate (fee).

eBay Revenue

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In 2022, eBay generated $9.79 billion, compared to $10.42 billion in 2021. A 6% decrease year-over-year.

Is eBay Profitable?

is-ebay-profitable
In 2022, eBay reported a net loss of $1.27 billion, compared to a net profit of $13.6 billion in 2021.

eBay Revenue Breakdown

ebay-revenue-breakdown
In 2022, eBay generated $9.77 billion in transaction revenue and $650 million in marketing services revenue.

How Much Does eBay Take?

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In 2021, eBay’s take rate was 11.19%. It means that eBay takes a cut of over 11% for each transaction happening through the platform. For instance, in 2021, on a total of over $87 billion in gross merchandise value on top of the platform, the company generated almost ten billion in transaction revenues.

eBay Bidding System

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eBay bidding is a way for buyers to bid on a product whose sale price is decided by auction. The bidding process itself is automated, with eBay acting on the buyer’s behalf.

eBay Organizational Structure

ebay-organizational-structure
eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization with semi-autonomous units grouped according to the services they provided. Today, eBay has a single division called Marketplace, which includes eBay and its international iterations.

Etsy vs. Ebay

etsy-vs-ebay

eBay vs. Amazon

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In 2021, Amazon generated almost $470 billion in revenue, vs. eBay’s over $10.4 billion. In comparison, looking at revenues, Amazon was 45x times larger than eBay.

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Who Owns Airbnb

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who-owns-paypal
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who-owns-netflix
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