The online auction web site was founded in San Jose, California on September 3, 1995 by computer programmer Pierre Omidyar as AuctionWeb, part of a larger personal site that included, among other things, Omidyar’s own tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Ebola virus.
The very first item sold on eBay was Omidyar’s broken laser pointer for $13.83. Astonished, he contacted the winning bidder and asked if he understood that the laser pointer was broken. In his responding email, the buyer explained: “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.”The frequently repeated story that eBay was founded to help Omidyar’s fiancée trade PEZ Candy dispensers was fabricated by a public relations manager in 1997 to interest the media. This was revealed in Adam Cohen’s 2002 book and confirmed by eBay.
Chris Agarpao was hired as eBay’s first employee and Jeff Skoll was hired as the first president of the company in 1996. In November 1996, eBay entered into its first third-party licensing deal, with a company called Electronic Travel Auction to use SmartMarket Technology to sell plane tickets and other travel products. The company officially changed the name of its service from AuctionWeb to eBay in September 1997. Originally, the site belonged to Echo Bay Technology Group, Omidyar’s consulting firm. Omidyar had tried to register the domain name EchoBay.com but found it already taken by the Echo Bay Mines, a gold mining company, so he shortened it to his second choice, eBay.com.