Pierre Omidyar is a creator of online auction eBay
Pierre Omidyar did not expect that he would earn anything, let alone become a billionaire, when he organized a small online auction on his private website. He just wanted to earn a few dollars. But after five months, what started as a hobby turned into an empire of $ 3 billion with more than 2 million subscribers. And Omidyar was at the head of one of the most popular and profitable web businesses in the history of the Internet.
Omidyar was born in Paris in 1967, but moved to Baltimore when his father began his medical career at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. At an early age, Pierre became interested in computers and regularly left physical education classes to play computers in his high school. Instead of punishing Omidyar for absenteeism, the principal asked him to write a computer program for printing catalog cards for the school library for $ 6 an hour. It was quite a lot at the time, but it was only the beginning.
Working for the bachelor’s degree in computer science at Tufts University, he wrote a program to help programmers at Apple Macintosh. He distributed it on the Internet as shareware, offering users to choose how much to pay for it. But the few checks that were made barely covered the cost of the mailbox he rented to collect them. In 1991, Pierre and his three friends founded a software development company for the computing market. He was the first to create an early e-commerce site called eShop. And although the calculations turned out to be one of the most noticeable technological failures, the eShop site turned out to be profitable enough to attract the attention of Microsoft, which later bought the company.
Fed up with startups, in 1994, Omidyar began working as an engineer for relations with software developers General Magic and earned a little money as a freelance web designer. Around the same time, he met his future spouse Pamela Wesley. Wesley, a collector of Pez candies, complained that it was difficult for her to find like-minded people on the Internet. In an effort to help, Omidyar opened a small online auction service on his personal webpage so that Wesley could communicate, buy and sell his copies to other collectors from all over the United States.
Launched on Labor Day, in 1995, the auction site, which Omidyar called eBay, did not look like a company that would give Omidyar a fortune. Then Omidyar did not give any guarantees regarding the goods offered, did not take responsibility and did not resolve disputes. He simply offered a place where users can go online, interact and bet on products.
Much to Omidyar’s surprise, collectors of Barbie dolls, Beni’s babies, and all kinds of household junk almost immediately filled up eBay. By February, the site had become so popular that it outgrown Omidyar’s personal Internet account. With the help of his friend and fellow programmer Jeff Skoll (who would later become the president of eBay), Omidyar moved eBay to a much more expensive business site and, in order to cover the increased costs, started charging a few cents for shipping goods and collecting a small amount of commission.
Omidyar himself did not know at first that he had touched one of the richest veins of the online world – the desire of people to communicate with others who share their interests. He originally thought that people would just use the service to buy and sell things, but what they really liked was a meeting of like-minded people.
Encouraged by this early success, Omidyar quit his job, and he and Skoll dedicated their time to creating eBay community and technologies. By mid-1997, eBay became one of the most visited sites on the Internet: more than 150,000 users take part in 794,000 auctions every day. The average eBay buyer spent almost 3.5 hours per month on eBay, longer than the average buyer on any other site.
As the company doubled every three months, Omidyar and Skoll decided that they needed support from venture capital and an experienced management team. In June 1997, they transferred the eBay business plan to Benchmark Capital and received a check for $ 4.5 million for a 22 percent stake in the company. Benchmark also promised to find a CEO who will help manage eBay by choosing Margaret Witham, the head of Hasbro Toy Company.
Since its modest start in the Pez candy trade, eBay has become one of the most popular sites on the Internet and has revolutionized e-commerce. His success spawned dozens of imitators, hoping to capitalize on the passion of online auctions. However, even with increasing competition, eBay growth is not slowing one iota. By the end of 1999, there were about 8 million registered users on eBay, selling an average of 33 million products a year, ranging from Beanie Babies to sophisticated antiques. As for Pierre Omidyar, he is also amazed at the amazing growth of eBay, just like everyone else.