The online marketplace eBay is regarded as a pioneer in its field and was founded by Pierre Omidyar in the USA in 1995. The focus is on sellers and buyers who can connect with each other at any time. In Germany, eBay started in 1999 with the takeover of the Internet auction platform Alando.

Originally, the focus was on the private trading of used goods. Today, however, the online marketplace can no longer be regarded as an auction house. The majority of the articles are new goods, which are offered at fixed prices. The combination of used and new items brought eBay success.

With the new eBay brand logo, which was introduced in 2012, the company incorporates eBay's history and wants to point to the dynamic future. The core elements, such as the colour of the old logo, have been retained. The touching letters reflect the close-knit and growing community.

Worldwide, eBay has 112 million members who regularly use the online marketplace to buy and sell $75 billion worth of goods annually. In Germany, the company has 18 million active users. In addition, there are 50 million products at any one time on the German eBay marketplace, provided by 5.4 million private sellers, 175,000 commercial vendors and more than 100 brand manufacturers. Today, the company is also leader in mobile commerce – the mobile application has already been downloaded 100 million times, and it enables users to buy and sell anywhere, anytime.

The founder Pierre Omidyar[edit]

The programmer Pierre Omidyar, son of an Iranian surgeon, was born in Paris and grew up in Maryland. At the age of 28, in 1995, he invented the principle of eBay. At that time, he lived in San Francisco and already programmed for Apple and several other companies. On the first weekend of September 1995 he programmed the basic software for the auction site. On Monday, September 4th "AuctionWeb" went online on the internet, which created the basis for eBay. The platform was first published on his company's website "Echo Bay Technology Group".

Six months after the start-up, Omidyar took enough sales commission to cover its server costs. Already after nine months he earned more money than with his programmer job. At this time there were about 800,000 auctions on eBay simultaneously. In August 1996, he gave up his position as Chairman of the Management Board. In 1997 he resigned from his position as Chief Financial Officer and in February 1998 he transferred management to Meg Whitman. In September 1998, she went public with eBay and Omidyar became a billionaire. Today Omidyar manages a non-profit company called "Omidyar Network". The company invests in microcredit, medicine, open source and social software.

Three Steps to Success[edit]

Omidyar's success is due to three facts:

1. low transaction costs, the large potential target group, good searchability, unlimited space and ease of use make the Internet the ideal marketplace for common and niche products.

2. Pierre Omidyar managed to reduce the administrative burden to a manageable, non-staff-intensive minimum. It was a social commerce system that ran independently, processing complaints and assessments while he was at work or pursuing his leisure activities.

3. Omidyar chose a good time and did not start too early or too late. By the time the auction platform was launched in 1996, there were already enough active users in the United States to operate the platform efficiently. The more people registered, the bigger the offer and the audience, which in turn led to higher attractiveness.

Relevance to search engine optimization[edit]

Since mid-2012, the search results on eBay have been sorted by default according to the criterion "most popular articles", and no longer according to the topicality of the articles. This sorting is especially important for sellers who offer the same items at a fixed price as for eBay online shop operators over a longer period of time. Sorting the results into a search query is similar to the properties of general search engines such as Google.

Due to this innovation, it is therefore helpful to optimize the offered articles for the "eBay search engine criteria". eBay itself gives some hints which criteria play a role in the evaluation of the "popularity", but behaves in terms of the exact algorithm concealed, as well as Google.

The criteria given are:

  • The conformity of the offer with the buyer's search query,
  • The seller's valuation profile (especially the detailed valuations),
  • The attractiveness of the offer,
  • The user behaviour of the seller on the platform.
  • For a more detailed description of what eBay has to offer, visit this page.