eBay corporate history

eBay President and CEO Meg Whitman delivers a keynote address at the 2005 eBay Live! conference June 23, 2005 in San Jose, Calif.

eBay Corporate History

Whichever way you slice it, eBay is a true labor of love. The work belongs to Pierre Omidyar, a computer programmer in San Jose, Calif., who decided to build a website in 1995 so that his girlfriend could trade, buy and sell Pez dispensers. The site was then called Auction Web, and it soon proved to be so popular that users began auctioning other items. In 1997 the site was attracting more shoppers than any other online site. In the same year, Auction Web officially changed its name to eBay.

The company began to become too big for Omidyar to run by himself, and the company began looking for someone to oversee daily operations and direct growth. In March 1998 Meg Whitman joined eBay as president and CEO. Six months later, the company launched an initial public offering, nearly tripling its share price in the first day of trading.

Since the beginning, eBay has actively expanded its reach by acquiring other non-auction-oriented online companies. Some of the company's high-profile purchases were Half.com in 2000; PayPal in 2002; a 25 percent stake in Craig's List in 2004; and Skype, the company's more controversial purchase, in 2005.

In 2006, eBay had 13,200 employees, 222 million registered users, and sales volume of $52.5 million.

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