Company History, Product and Services
Ebay was Founded in September 1995 by Pierre Omidyar in his San Jose living room (Bjornsson 2001), he created a flea market in cyberspace when launched online auction service Auction Web. Making a name for itself largely through word of mouth, the company incorporated in 1996, the same year it began to charge a fee to auction items online.The company changed the name to eBay in 1997 and began promoting itself through advertising. By the middle of that year, eBay was boasting nearly 800,000 auctions each day and Benchmark Capital came on board as a significant financial backer. In early 1998 Margaret Whitman, a former Hasbro executive, replaced Omidyar as CEO in early 1998, later the same year EBay made a blockbuster debut as a public company. The company moved closer to household name status by launching a national advertising campaign and inking alliance deals with AOL and WebTV. eBay showed its acquisitive streak in 1999 with purchases of Alando (online auctions in Germany) and Billpoint (person-to-person credit card technology). It also made one of its first investments in an outside company with the purchase of 6% of TradeOut.com, an online seller of corporate surplus materials. The company set the jewel in its 1999 acquisition crown when it acquired upscale auction house Butterfield & Butterfield now known as (Butterfields). eBay also expanded down under through a joint venture with Australia-based ecorp (formerly PBL Online). In 2000 eBay agreed to develop person-to-person and merchant-to-person auction sites for Disney's GO Network, began distributing information through wireless products, and joined with banking giant Wells Fargo to offer eBay sellers the option of accepting online checks. Also in 2000 the company expanded into Japan through eBay Japan, with computer firm NEC acquiring 30% of the Japanese subsidiary and eBay owning the rest; it also launched Canadian and Austrian sites. In addition, eBay took an equity stake in online used-car dealer AutoTrader.com and launched a co-branded used-car auction website, and it acquired online trading community Half.com. eBay strengthened its European position in 2001 through the purchase of French Internet auction firm iBazar. It also launched sites in Ireland, New Zealand, and Switzerland. eBay made a deal that year to provide its e-commerce capabilities to Microsoft developers and to add business-to-business auctions to its consumer operations. In addition, the company began offering virtual storefronts for retailers to sell fixed-price items and purchased auctioneer of foreclosed property, HomesDirect. Amazon.com was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos. After months of preparation, he launched a website in July 1995 (Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies was its first sale); it had sales of $20,000 a week by September. Bezos and his team kept working with the site, pioneering features that now seem mundane, such as one-click shopping, customer reviews, and e-mail order verification. Amazon went public in 1997. Moves to cement the Amazon.com brand included becoming the sole book retailer on AOL's website and Netscape's commercial channel. In 1998 the company launched its online music and video stores, and it began to sell toys and electronics. Amazon also expanded its European reach with the purchases of online booksellers in the UK and Germany, and it acquired the Internet Movie Database. Bezos also expanded the company's base of online services, buying Junglee (comparison shopping) and PlanetAll (address book, calendar, reminders).By midyear Amazon.com had attracted so much attention that its market capitalization equaled the combined values of profitable bricks-and-mortar rivals Barnes & Noble and Borders Group, even though their combined sales were far greater than the upstart's. Late that year Amazon formed a promotional link with Hoover's, publisher of this profile. After raising $1.25...
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