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Happy 18th Birthday eBay!

By Dan Wilson September 3, 2013 - 12:45 pm

It nearly passed me by but I noticed at the weekend Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, was tweeting about how he created eBay 18 years ago on the Labor Day weekend holiday stateside. He said: “18 years ago this weekend I was not sleeping much and writing a lot of code for a new website. Now that it’s turned 18, I wonder if it’s time to kick it out of the house?”

It seems astonishing that it’s bee so long. My own association with eBay (including 7 years on the staff) is about 14 years now (a decent chunk of my life) and even Tamebay will be 7 years old in November this year. It’s also notable that it’s here at all. It’s one of a small group of 1990s web survivors that have managed to prosper as things have rapidly changed and even surprised the web bubble bursting way back when. There really aren’t many comparable companies of eBay’s vintage with such a clear purpose.

It’s also worth noting that eBay is in rude good health once more after a few ropey years in the noughties when it wasn’t doing well, suffered something of an identity crisis and didn’t have a clear vision. The current team at the helm have done a good job of clarifying what eBay is and for, and I’d say the company has found its mojo once more. Of course, events have helped. The explosion of mobile web usage and the smartphone revolution has been very good for eBay these past few years.

And then there’s Paypal. It’s the other real driver of eBay Inc.’s success in 2013. For years it has been driving on and off eBay adoption hard and reaping rewards. But it’s only recently that significant innovation and service improvements have started to come through.

Finally, in the UK, withdrawing Paypal funds is instant (or near as damn it) and also PayPal Check In and PayPal Here have debuted. All this is an impressive leap forward for the PayPal product and I suspect that we’ll see more soon.

I know we all like a grumble every now and again (or all the time for some of you) but eBay has changed my life and I’m sure it’s changed yours too, even just a little bit. So Happy Birthday eBay!

  • Charles A. Martin
    4 years ago

    @Dan Wilson :
    eBay lost its way long ago when it abused sellers’ ability to police bad buyers by removing the ability to post negative feedback to a seller’s profile.

    In the last several years it became a haven for dishonest penny pinching buyers and no amount of fee tweaking is going to reverse that trend.

    As a company with tens of millions to throw around — taken from those same sellers in fees — eBay has let PayPal stagnate as even its third founder Elon Musk publicly testified — and shown by the same and fellow founder Peter Thiel’s financial backing of Stripe.

    Buying the Magento shopping system for millions and then not knowing what to do with it — leading to the departure of the founders — is only one of corporation’s recent crimes against ecommerce progress.

    What fate will befall Braintree payments customers is the question of the next months. As Chris T mentions — will PayPal honour the Braintree fixed lifetime discounted prices for Google Checkout refugees?

    Assuming they do, that however is the least of those merchant’s problems. The main problem is they are being forced to join PayPal — no doubt most would have gone there in the first place instead of being with Google Checkout and then Braintree, if that was what they wanted to do.

    David Marcus is going to have his work cut out herding these non-sheep into the PayPal fold!

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