When 60 Minutes Wednesday first reported on eBay two years ago, there were an estimated 50 million people worldwide using the Web site.
What started as a hobby is now a cultural phenomenon. But, as Correspondent Charlie Rose reports, eBay seems to have tapped into something uniquely American and entrepreneurial. It's an auction house that never sleeps, where anyone can be a buyer or a seller.
"You have to remember that in September of 1998, 8 percent of the items on eBay were Beanie Babies," says CEO Meg Whitman.
And she says it's only the beginning.
"I think I am most surprised by the fact that we have become the largest site on the Web for the buying and selling of used cars, motorcycles and auto parts," says Whitman. "So from Beanie Babies to Beamers, I'm not sure that anyone would have actually have predicted that."
And no one could have predicted that within two years of our original story, the number of eBay users would more than double, to more than 125 million worldwide today. Those people are buying and selling more than $1,000 worth of goods every second.
An Internet pioneer, eBay is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
June 11, 2003 Broadcast:
The company sells a motorcycle every 18 minutes and an SUV every 30 minutes. As many as 150,000 people have literally given up their jobs to create their own businesses selling on eBay.
Laurie Liss and her mother, Darlene, armed with little more than a computer, a camera, and something to sell, built their own eBay business that is now selling $30,000 to $40,000 in goods a month.
"It's almost like the world's largest garage sale, even though for some people, they're selling used," says Laurie Liss. "We're selling new."
The lure of a bargain, combined with the excitement of a Las Vegas gamble, is what brings in millions of Internet customers. The loyalty and enthusiasm of devoted eBay users all over the country is what has helped build eBay into the powerhouse it is today.