Pierre Omidyar revolutionized the Internet by creating a site where people, artisans and small businesses could sell their products from anywhere around the world to consumers everywhere. Without him, Ebay would not have been possible. But how did he come up with this idea?
Omidyar has always been fascinated with computers since he was young. He took up Computer Science at Tufts University to further his knowledge about technology, and upon graduation, he worked for a subsidiary of Apple Computer – He was actually one of the developers of the Macintosh. But in 1991, he took his knowledge in computers to create Ink Development Corp. with some of his friends. At this company, he was able to create the prelude to eBay, eShop. After a few years, eShop was sold to Microsoft, but Omidyar still wanted to pursue his interest in online commerce.
Love and business arrived simultaneously in Omidyar’s life. Upon marrying his wife, Pamela Wesley, he was able to create a simple prototype that allowed users to establish an online venue for direct person-to-person auction of items. He launched the online service in 1995 and called it Auction Web. The response of buyers to the items sold on the site astonished Omidyar and pushed him even more to develop the service. When the business exploded, the budding tech entrepreneur realized that he had a potential enterprise.
In 1997, the world’s online market place, eBay, was officially launched. Omidyar advertised his service aggressively and has served as Chairman of the Board since its inception. He was originally the Chief Financial Officer, President and CEO, but later relinquished these positions as the workload increased. A year later, eBay’s worth shot up to $47 million and had more than a million registered users.
Omidyar was just an aspiring programmer who became a billionaire overnight through eBay. His story serves as a reminder to innovators that an idea, once pursued, can become a potential pot of gold.