20 Years of eBay

Facts and Figures Regarding the #1 Auction Site

20 Years of eBay
September 30, 2015

Twenty years ago, Pierre Omidyar created AuctionWeb and listed his first item for sale — a broken laser pointer valued at $1. Intended as a test item for the site, the laser pointer eventually sold for $14.83 even though the item was clearly listed as being broken. Thus was born eBay, AuctionWeb's new name as of September 1997.

Within four years, eBay had become an established online retailer with a valuation greater than well-known brick and mortar retailers such as Sears and JC Penney. Today it is a giant of e-commerce, with 157 million active users, approximately 25 million sellers, and 800 million listings. Here are a few eBay facts and figures to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

  • Name – Omidyar wanted to use the name Echo Bay, but the name was already taken. It was shortened to eBay as a result.
  • Growth of Users – In the second quarter of 2010, eBay had 91.8 million active users. The 157 million users as of the second quarter of 2015 represent over 70% growth.
  • Revenue – According to Statista, eBay's annual net revenue was $17.9 billion worldwide at the end of 2014, over 11% growth in revenue from 2013. Just under $8.5 billion of that revenue was within the US.
  • Profit Margin – eBay's quarterly profit margin since 2003 generally averages between 15% and 25%, with only one negative data point during that time (March 2014).

  • Visitors Per Month – From April 2011 to July of 2015, eBay averaged around 75 million unique US visitors per month with a peak of 89.02 million visitors (July 2013). For retail websites, as of March 2015, eBay ranked second worldwide among US retailers with 122 million total unique visitors per month, behind Amazon's 175 million visitors. Wal-Mart is a distant third with 82 million visitors.
  • Transaction Type – Although eBay is still known as an auction site, approximately 70% of purchases as of this writing are outside of auctions using "New/Buy It Now." People seem to prefer convenience to the thrill of auctions.
  • Top Sellers – According to Webretailer.com, who is the world's top eBay seller based on feedback volume? It's the user name estocks, selling in the Music category. China and Hong Kong have 291 sellers in the top 1,000, with the US second at 180. See the full list here.
  • Most Expensive Item – It's not even close. The most expensive item to be sold on eBay was a 405-foot yacht sold by 4Yacht, allegedly purchased by the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2006. No ordinary yacht, this vessel reportedly includes a helicopter pad and a movie theater. The auction technically ended at $85 million, but the total price of the yacht was a reported $168 million with $85 million as the down payment.
  • Strange Items – We could fill a hundred articles with strange eBay items, but here are a few. Goldenpalace.com bought two of the strangest bids of all time: a Dorito shaped like the pope's hat for $1,209 in 2005, and a grilled cheese sandwich with the alleged portrait of the Virgin Mary on the surface for $28,000 in 2004. Ad space on someone's forehead (a temporary tattoo) went for $37,375 in 2005. In 2013, a hand-made suit of armor for a guinea pig sold for $1,150. Seen anything weirder for sale?

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of eBay by going online and making a purchase. Whether it is a yacht, a sacred grilled cheese sandwich, or something in-between, there is bound to be something online that you can use and afford. 157 million active users can’t be wrong.

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Leah | 09.30.15 @ 14:22
Wow, I wonder if he ever thought it would become so popular
Steffanie | 09.30.15 @ 14:24
Almost unbelievable earnings. It truly is a popular site.
Kathryn | 09.30.15 @ 14:25
I love eBay! My mom has been using it for years, we still have packages coming in weekly from her finding all the right deals.
Angie | 09.30.15 @ 14:26
I have been both a buyer and a seller on Ebay - I definitely appreciate its presence!
Kamie | 09.30.15 @ 14:26
eBay is sadly now filled with more people who drop sell, but, I still go there for childhood memory things that I think I need.
Sara | 09.30.15 @ 14:28
Wow did not know ebay has been around 20 years. Amazing what can be sold on ebay.
Rindy | 09.30.15 @ 14:28
I remember the first time I used Ebay and how exciting it was to participate in an auction in my own home. It has been a great place to find and sell at reasonable prices.
Erin | 09.30.15 @ 14:29
People selling strange things - goes to show there's a market for everything.
Meredith L | 09.30.15 @ 14:29
I've been a member of eBay for at least 10 of those years. It's amazing how time flies. I have to be careful though... I'm familiar with it and totally addicted! Plus selling there has really gotten me out of some tough spots.
Sarah | 09.30.15 @ 14:30
Huh... those are some impressive numbers
Zanna | 09.30.15 @ 14:31
Didn't someone sell a yard full of snow once? I think I remember that happening.
Carla | 09.30.15 @ 14:31
I really laughed out loud at the suit of armor for the guinea pig! My brother sold lots on this site and actually bought a convertible once.
gracie | 09.30.15 @ 14:42
It's amazing how much it's popularity grew!
Chrisitna | 09.30.15 @ 14:44
Love eBay! I can't believe it's been 20 years...
Britt | 09.30.15 @ 14:49
I love eBay and use it quite often. It's crazy to think that it's been around 20 years!
Nancy | 09.30.15 @ 14:52
I never realized that eBay has been around that long. And wow, what a growth story.
Daniel | 09.30.15 @ 14:57
Just wow, I remember when it started Thanks for reminding me of my age eBay :)
Kate | 09.30.15 @ 14:58
WOW!! I remember when eBay first came out! It's hard to believe that it is years old now! I have used it for years!
steven | 09.30.15 @ 15:01
Wow! Amazing how long Ebay has been around. Just the fact that it is still so popular is amazing in itself.
Heather | 09.30.15 @ 15:02
I love eBay. I've been lucky and haven't had a bad seller. Plus I love the added protection PayPal gives you. Its hard to believe though that it's been around for 20 years!
Alec | 09.30.15 @ 15:02
eBay is my go-to place to sell (and sometimes buy) things from the items I collect. My family has been using eBay for almost the whole 20 years. I didn't realize it had been open that long or that it pulled in so much money though!
Elaine | 09.30.15 @ 15:04
I have been thankful for eBay so many times. Have gotten some amazing deals.
Crystal | 09.30.15 @ 15:05
I now feel extremely old because I signed up the year they launched. Kudos eBay!
Jonathan | 09.30.15 @ 15:05
Wow this is amazing
Jonathan | 09.30.15 @ 15:06
Wow, this is pretty amazing. I never realized they were that big...
Bobbie | 09.30.15 @ 15:21
I love eBay, can find almost anything on there!
Rychana | 09.30.15 @ 15:26
I use eBay a lot. It is great to be able to get great deals and to sell unwanted items.
Christina | 09.30.15 @ 15:40
I love eBay!!! Glad to see it doing so well.
George | 09.30.15 @ 15:48
We just started using eBay, wish I done it sooner. It has helped us.
Selena | 09.30.15 @ 15:57
I had no idea this company was even half that old.
STOKES | 09.30.15 @ 16:01
I love eBay. Can always find a good deal.
Kailie | 09.30.15 @ 16:13
Ebay is a wonderful company, it isn't a surprise that they have been as successful as they have been for this long.
Kyle | 09.30.15 @ 16:16
Happy birthday eBay! Wonderful company. It's amazing the things that have been accomplished in such a short time.
Ron | 09.30.15 @ 16:21
I won so many punk rock items on eBay over the years. Tshirts, stickers, patches. I rarely use eBay today. My login still works!
Jackie | 09.30.15 @ 16:23
I love eBay! I buy and sell there regularly.
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 10.21.20 @ 09:55