eBay logo

eBay Inc. is an American multinational e-commerce corporation based in San Jose, California, that facilitates consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer sales through its website.

Quick Fact


  • Ranked #29th worldwide
  • Active users 187 M
  • Type Shopping Networks
  • Launched date Sep 3, 1995
  • Employees 13,300
  • Headquarters San Jose, California, U.S.
  • Parent company None


Pierre OmidyarParis


  • Brand value In 2020 $47.4 B
  • Revenue in 2020 $1.8 B
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Data Graphs

personvia Statista.com

Controversies And Criticism

Controversies And CriticismIllustration. (via linnworks.com)

Common eBay criticisms involve the policy of requiring the use of PayPal for payments and concerns over fraud, forgeries, and intellectual property violations in auction items. There are also issues of how negative feedback after an auction can offset the benefits of using eBay as a trading platform.

eBay has been criticized for not paying UK taxes: the Sunday Times reported in Oct 2012 that eBay paid only £1.2m in tax on sales of over £800m.

2014 Security Breach

On May 21, 2014, the company revealed that the consumer database of usernames, passwords, phone numbers, and physical addresses had been breached between late February and early March. Users were advised to change their passwords; to expedite this, a "change password" feature was added to profiles of users who had not yet done so.

The Syrian Electronic Army took responsibility for the attack. The SEA said that even though the hack revealed millions of users' banking details to them, they would not misuse the data. They had replaced the front pages of the websites with their own logo, called "Defacing" in technical terms. The hack caused eBay's share price to crash in intra-day trade as a result of the breach of security.

Stalking Scandal

A cyberstalking and harassment campaign conducted in 2019 against an online newsletter led to charges made public in 2020 against seven members of eBay's global security team, as well as arrests of two of those charged.

Following the publication of an article in the online newsletter EcommerceBytes about eBay's litigation against Amazon, CEO Devin Wenig texted an eBay communications executive, saying, "If you are ever going to take [an ECommerceBytes writer] down... now is the time." Thereafter, a team of eBay employees launched a cyberstalking and harassment campaign against the newsletter's authors.

Wenig, the company's CEO at the time of the harassment campaign, has been not charged.


SubsidiariesIllustration. (via linnworks.com)


On Oct 3, 2002, PayPal became a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay. Its corporate headquarters were sited in San Jose, California, the United States at eBay's North First Street satellite office campus.

On Sep 30, 2014, eBay Inc. announced the divestiture of PayPal as an independent company, which was completed on Jul 20, 2015.


In the summer of 2004, eBay acknowledged that it had acquired 25% of classified listings website Craigslist. Former Craigslist executive Phillip Knowlton was the seller, and he insisted that his former employer was aware of his plans to divest his holdings. Initially, eBay assured Craigslist that eBay would not ask Craigslist to change the way it did business.

In Mar 2005, eBay launched the classifieds service Kijiji.

In Apr 2008, eBay sued Craigslist to "safeguard its four-year financial investment", claiming that in Jan 2008, Craigslist took actions that "unfairly diluted eBay's economic interest by more than 10%". Craigslist countersued in May 2008 "to remedy the substantial and ongoing harm to fair competition" that Craigslist claimed was constituted by eBay's actions as a Craigslist shareholder.

In Sep 2010, Delaware Judge William Chandler ruled that the actions of Craigslist were unlawful and that the actions were taken by Craigslist founders Jim Buckmaster and Craig Newmark had "breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty", and restored eBay's stake in the company to 28.4% from a diluted level of 24.85%.

However, the judge dismissed eBay's objection to a staggered board provision, citing that Craigslist has the right to protect its own trade secrets. eBay spokesman Michael Jacobson stated, "We are very pleased that the court gave eBay what it sought from the lawsuit."


In Oct 2005, eBay Inc. acquired Skype Technologies, developer of the Skype VoIP and Instant messaging service, significantly expanding its customer base to more than 480 million registered users worldwide.

eBay later sold a majority stake in Skype in Nov 2009, while retaining a minority investment. This eventually led to the sale of the entire Skype business to Microsoft for $8.5 billion in May 2011.


In Apr 2018, eBay acquired the Japanese division of Qoo10, a marketplace driven by Giosis and having the 4th GMV in Japan, for a reported $573 million. With the close of the transaction, eBay also has relinquished its investment in Giosis’ non-Japanese businesses.

This acquisition expands eBay's footprint in Japan, one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world. eBay made an initial investment in Giosis Pte. Ltd. in 2010. Since then, Giosis has established dynamic marketplace businesses across Asia.

eBay's Japan business, including Giosis’ Japan business, will report to Jooman Park, senior vice president of eBay's Asia Pacific region.


StubHub's acquisition by eBay was announced in Jan 2007 for a reported $310 million. According to CNN Money, 2007 was a very successful year for the company, handling five million individual transactions, more than in the previous six years combined of its history.

Staffing at StubHub had increased to 350 workers by the time of the sale. Eight months after the acquisition, StubHub reached an exclusive agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB). They get a piece of the 25% in commissions StubHub earns on either end of a sale. Ticketmaster filed a lawsuit against StubHub and eBay in 2007, alleging "intentional interference" with Ticketmaster's contractual rights.

In Nov 2019, eBay agreed to sell StubHub to Viagogo for $4.05 billion in cash; the sale was completed in Feb 2020.

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

In Sep 1995 Pierre Omidyar launched a site called Auction Web, which would evolve to be the eBay we know today. He could not have imagined that his idea would explode into something that is now a household word. Here is the back story on Omidyar and his journey to start eBay

Born in Paris in 1967, Omidyar moved to Baltimore, Maryland, as his physician father accepted a medical residency at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. He had an interest in computers as a teenager, preferring playing on the high school's computers to attending PE class. The principal of the school saw Omidyar's potential and, rather than punishing him for skipping gym class, hired him to handle programming and printing library catalog cards for $6 an hour.

Omidyar continued on the path to attend Tufts University and pursue a bachelor's degree. While studying there, he developed a program for Apple Macintosh for memory management. By 1991, Omidyar and three other students created a company to develop programs for pen-computing. He was wise enough to create a rudimentary e-commerce platform he named eShop. Pen-computing didn't take off, but the concept for e-commerce caught Microsoft's attention and they bought the company from Omidyar.

Omidyar moved on to designing web pages. His girlfriend, who later became his wife, was a Pez dispenser enthusiast and collector. She was frustrated with the internet and her search to find other Pez collectors. In an effort to help his girlfriend, Omidyar created an area on his website for her to reach out to other Pez collectors and network with other like-minded people in the collector space.

eBay, or as it was first known, Electronic Bay, began on Labor Day 1995. It was quite rudimentary by today's standards—with no guarantees, no fees, no third-party interaction to moderate disputes, and no payment platform. Omidyar and his girlfriend were shocked to see that a variety of collectibles, used items, and random stuff began appearing on the site. Within five months, eBay outgrew Omidyar's personal account and had to be moved to a business platform. Members were charged a small fee to list on the site.

eBay continued to grow by leaps and bounds and Omidyar actually told the New York Times in an interview that "so many checks were piling up at my door that I had to hire help to open them all."

Brief History

Sep The AuctionWeb was founded in California by French-born Iranian-American computer programmer Pierre Omidyar.

Jeffrey Skoll was hired as the first new president of the company.

Nov The E-Commerce platform entered into its licensing deal with a company called Electronic Travel Auction.

The company received $6.7 million in funding from the venture capital firm Benchmark Capital.

Beanie Babies quickly became the dominant product on eBay, accounting for 10% of all listings.

Jan Reaching 200.000 auctions in 1 month.
Sep The company officially changed the name of its service from AuctionWeb to eBay.
Mar Meg Whitman was hired by the board as eBay President and CEO.
Sep eBay went public.

eBay had 12 million registered users and a cyber inventory of more than 4.5 million items.


eBay had the largest userbase of any e-commerce site.

Feb The company purchased iBazar, a similar European auction website founded in 1998.
Oct PayPal became a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay.

eBay acknowledged that it had acquired 25% of the classified listings website Craigslist.

Mar eBay launched the classifieds service Kijiji.
Oct eBay Inc. acquired Skype Technologies.

The accounting software company Intuit launched a web-based donation tracking service called ItsDeductible.

eBay launched its Business & Industrial category, breaking into the industrial surplus business.

Apr eBay opened its new eBay Express site, which was designed to work like a standard Internet shopping site for consumers with United States addresses.
Jan StubHub's acquisition by eBay was announced for a reported $310 million.
Aug eBay required listings in "Video Games" and "Health & Beauty" to accept its payment system PayPal and sellers could only accept PayPal for payments in the category "Video Games: Consoles".

The company had expanded worldwide, counting hundreds of millions of registered users as well as 15,000 employees and revenues of almost $7.7 billion.

Total payment volume via PayPal increased 17%, but of the eBay auction site, it was up 61%.

eBay implemented a system of seller ratings with four categories.

Jan The company announced that Meg Whitman would step down.

eBay said sellers can only accept PayPal as payment for the categories "Computing > Software", "Consumer Electronics > MP3 Players", "Wholesale & Job Lots > Mobile & Home Phones", and "Business, Office & Industrial > Industrial Supply / MRO".

Mar John Donahoe was selected to become president and CEO.
Apr eBay sued Craigslist to "safeguard its four-year financial investment".

eBay announced the Selling Manager Applications program (SM Apps).

May eBay announced the opening of its newest building on the company's North Campus in San Jose.

Craigslist countersued "to remedy the substantial and ongoing harm to fair competition" that Craigslist claimed was constituted by eBay's actions as a Craigslist shareholder.


eBay completed the sale of Skype for $2.75 billion, but still owned 30% equity in the company.

Oct eBay changed to an affiliate payout system that it calls Quality Click Pricing.

eBay made an initial investment in Giosis Pte. Ltd.

Jan Auctionbytes.com held an open survey in which sellers could rate eBay, as well as competing auction and marketplace sites.
Mar $154 million has been raised for US nonprofits by the eBay Community since eBay Giving Works began in 2003.
Sep Delaware Judge William Chandler ruled that the actions of Craigslist were unlawful and that the actions were taken by Craigslist founders Jim Buckmaster and Craig Newmark had "breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty", and restored eBay's stake in the company to 28.4% from a diluted level of 24.85%.
May The sale of the entire Skype to Microsoft for $8.5 billion.

eBay was charged by the United States Department of Justice with entering into non-solicitation agreements with other technology companies involving their highly skilled employees.

eBay has been enlisting sellers into its "Global Shipping Program".

May eBay reported a 29% Q1 revenue increase to $3.3 billion compared to their Q1 in 2011.
Sep eBay introduced a new logo using a thinner variation of the Univers typeface.
Oct The logo is installed on the website.
May The initiative Choice in eCommerce was founded by several online retailers in Berlin, Germany.
Oct ePN launched a new pricing model.

eBay and several other Oregon businesses signed the Oregon Business Climate Declaration to promote local job growth and slow carbon pollution.

Feb The company revealed that the consumer database of usernames, passwords, phone numbers, and physical addresses had been breached between late Feb and early Mar.
Jul UK's GCHQ has a suite of tools for monitoring target use of eBay, named ELATE.
Sep eBay Inc. announced it would spin off PayPal into a separate publicly-traded company.

eBay's then chief executive, John Donahoe, stepped down from that role.

Sep Propay and Skrill were banned citing low usage.
Jul eBay released an image search capability allowing users to find listings on the site that match an item depicted in a photo, using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.
Jan eBay announced that they would replace PayPal as its primary payments provider with Netherlands-based start-up Adyen.
Apr eBay acquired the Japanese division of Qoo10, for a reported $573 million.
Sep It was reported that eBay would install a security fence around the perimeter of its San Jose headquarters in response to the YouTube headquarters shooting earlier that year.
Jul The company acquired a 5.59 percent stake in Paytm Mall.
Sep It was announced that Devin Wenig would be stepping down as eBay's CEO and that Scott Schenkel.
Nov eBay agreed to sell StubHub to Viagogo for $4.05 billion in cash.
Apr It was announced that Jamie Iannone would become the CEO on April 27.
Jun eBay clarified that Wenig and five other employees were terminated in Sep after a law enforcement notification in Aug because of a possible criminal case of harassment of journalists perpetrated by some of the terminated employees.

Network Features

Network Features
																	Illustration. (via frooition.com)

Social buttons on listings

At the upper-right of any eBay listing, you'll see four small, square buttons arranged in a horizontal line. Click the first to email a listing to a friend, the second to share a listing on Facebook, the third to tweet a listing, and the fourth to pin it on Pinterest.

The shopping cart. For years, the shopping cart was one of the most requested eBay features. That change finally arrived last year, but many longtime eBay users have failed to notice or use it. The shopping cart can make the buying of multiple items on eBay much easier since you can pay for all of them with a single click-through at the end of the purchase process.

Social buttons on listings

On the far right of the search box on eBay's home page is the Advanced link. Click it to view an eBay search box that enables searches by location, price range, buying format, number of bids, the currency of sale, and much, much more. If you're a savvy buyer looking for great deals, this is a great tool to help you zero in on your targets.

Search criteria refinement. After you've run a keyword search on eBay, you can refine what eBay is helping you to look for using the links and options down the left side of your screen. For example, after searching for an item, enter a price range in the two "Price" boxes to narrow the results shown to you by price. Most of the options in the Advanced search tool can also be applied to a search you've already run using the refinements on the left side of any search results page.

Report item

See something that you're sure is fake or counterfeit, or see a rules violation or even just something suspicious? Use the "Report item" link on the far right of any item listing just above the item number, to report the item directly to eBay for examination, with no further hassle for you.

Social buttons on listings

After you've run an eBay search, use the "Products & Reviews" tab at the top of the search results list to show your results as a series of products (by make and model) and their user reviews, rather than as a series of individual listings. Choosing this tab causes eBay to work much more like Amazon; rather than seeing results that are a giant pile of one-off listings, you'll see products by make and model, with all listings for any given product make and model collected in the same place. In this view, you can also sort in ways that recall Amazon, like by "highest rated" by the number of stars.

The eBay wish list

As you view products in eBay's catalog (using the "Products & Reviews" tab, for example), you'll find a link at the lower-left of any page to add the item to your eBay wish list. Like an Amazon wish list, an eBay wishes list is a place where you can gather together a list of things you'd like to own. To view your list and have the opportunity to make it public or share it, visit you're My eBay, then view the items you're currently watching. On the left side of the watched items page you'll find a link to your "Wish List" in the "Lists" category).


At the top of any eBay item listing are three buttons labeled "Like," "Want," and "Own," that add the item to your current list of favorites. eBay uses this data to help decide what kinds of items you might be interested in seeing more of and to help you to share your wants with friends. Obviously, this functionality overlaps with the "wish list" functionality above, so one of them is likely to go the way of the dodo in coming years; hopefully whichever one is kept will become easier to use at the same time.

eBay Bucks and Bill Me Later

These two marketing programs appear in the same area on every listing. The eBay Bucks program provides cashback for eBay purchases; if you shop a lot on eBay and aren't using your eBay bucks, you're leaving money on the table. The Bill Me Later program is essentially a zero-down credit line, something like an in-store credit card, for those that like to make purchases this way.

eBay is changing all the time, sometimes with little fanfare. Not all of these changes will appeal to everyone, but there are likely to be a few things on this list that appeal to most eBay users, old and new alike.


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