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The Perfect Store: Inside eBay Paperback – June 3, 2003
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From its beginnings as a hobby site on a Silicon Valley PC, to its maturation as a real company under the burgeoning fiscal pressures of cyberspace, to its present status as one of the few original e-business practitioners to survive the dot.com implosion, eBay has always been part of the crowd while managing to stand out from it. Cohen helps us understand why by taking us inside the heads of major players like Pierre Omidyar, the cofounder who imbued his site with a Libertarian philosophy responsible for its heart and soul, and Meg Whitman, the seasoned manager who brought business savvy and a Harvard MBA to its roller-coaster world. What helps make the book so readable and informative, though, are Cohen's accompanying observations of the many other people and events that also helped eBay develop its trademark direction and characteristic personality: the company that formulated its distinctive logo, the Kansas City clothing-iron collectors whose pastime was transformed by the upstart Web site, the quirky listings that generated controversy (and publicity) like the one in 1999 for a "fully functional kidney," even detractors who decry its big-business underpinnings. Fans of the site, along with students of the online world in general, will find Cohen's account both instructive and enjoyable. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
This engrossing story takes us from the first days of Auction web--where Omidyar, as a lark, successfully auctioned a broken laser pointer to the evolution of a bare bones company where employees worked in cubicles and had to assemble their own desks from kits and finally to a very profitable and thriving business.
The most intriguing aspect of the story is the development of the Ebaysian philosophy--Omidyar's vision of a perfect market, an online auction, where the seller would get the market price for the item on that particular day. Part of this philsophy was involvement of the community in key aspects of Ebay operations. The community embraced this concept and, on a volunteer basis, staffed user bulletin boards giving advice to newcomers on how to get started, and sharing marketing and other business operations advice. After Ebay's IPO and the need to generate increasing profits for their stockholders, management ventured into some practices and ventures that violated this philosophy such as commercial ventures including a Disney site that competed with Ebay's own sellers. The Ebay community protested some of these ideas and management did listen and made changes.
Just as fascinating as the story of the evolution of the company is the story of the people behind the company. One fascinating character was Pongo, a message board regular who gave tips on adding digital photos to auction sites.Read more ›
The boyfriend, Pierre Omidyar, was born in Paris in 1967, and moved to the US as a six-year-old. He grew up in Washington, DC in a home that prized brain power and education. (His father's a medical doctor, and his mother has a doctorate in linguistics.) He loved computers early on, and snuck out of PE in order to tinker with his science teacher's cheap Radio Shack computer in a school closet, eventually teaching himself to program in BASIC.
But this was no asocial loner/misfit writing code in a closet. Author Adam Cohen draws a portrait of the young Omidyar as a dyed-in-the-wool humanist and idealist, a brilliant programmer who was also a sociable and thoughtful young man who fully believed that cyberspace ought to be about people and community. Cohen asserts that Omidyar "wanted his corner of cyberspace to be a place where people made real connections with each other, and where a social contract prevailed." Quite deliberately, and with no goal toward making its founder a gazillionaire, Omidyar's idea created, after plenty of tinkering, eBay: "a perfect marketplace."
Along the way there are evolving business plans, bright and devoted employees, and a consistent and profitable fiscal (though not cultural) conservatism.Read more ›
Regarding the apparent lack of objectivity. I think most of these critics think if an author is enthusiastic about their subject then their objectivity is proportionally tainted. While I think that's generally true, I'm not convinced this is very true of Cohen. He gives interesting information about where eBay doesn't work and why. For instance, eBay tried venturing into the high-end antiques/collectibles market where companies like Sotheby's cater to high society at traditional auctions people attend in person. EBay, like the elite auction houses, failed to create a revolution in this market with their online approach to auctions as eBay did in the low-end collectibles market. Why? Cohen speculates that it's because personal attendance at these auctions is so much a part of the experience, and so fulfilling, almost all of which is lost in making an online bid for an item. Perhaps the rich also see eBay as a `riff raff' way to auction. Speaking of riff-raff, I don't think Cohen gives short shrift to eBay's most vocal detractor either, a leftist moron eBay seller whose rabble rousing attempted to inspire the laughable Million Auction March, a flight of eBay auctions to competitors The seller felt, with the usual paranoid leftist panache, that eBay had `sold out' by allowing a toaster company to have a banner ad. And what about the chapter on the thrift store junkie who hates eBay and has plenty of valid reasons why?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read the book not really knowing what to get out of it and found it to do a fantastic job of talking in great detail about the founders,the initial idea, and how it all scaled to... Read morePublished on August 8, 2013 by Miguel Rosario
Cohen does a decent job recounting some of the stories that made eBay special. He seems to have had solid access and have done good research for the books I describe it as... Read morePublished on July 30, 2013 by Adam Lawrence
Entertaining read of the history of eBay; too bad no one has written an account of more recent events to continue the story; some descriptions of some of the characters dragged on... Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by LBB
Focusing on the early days of eBay, this book presents good historical facts from eBay and the merchants point of view. Read morePublished on December 8, 2012 by Andi S. Boediman (a venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur)
The Perfect Store described how eBay was founded and the first couple of years of its development. Actually, the book is a collection of short stories related to eBay. Read morePublished on June 24, 2011 by Bas Vodde
I loved this story. It covered everything I was curious about regarding ebaY (including which letters to capitalize). Read morePublished on December 9, 2007 by Jackie M
This is an incredible book written about an incredible store. A store that has changed the lives of countless people who now depend on it as their primary means of livelihood. Read morePublished on November 11, 2007 by Paul Dsouza
As someone who has sold on ebay for a long time, I was excited to read this book. It was a fascinating read, but what made me sad was that ebay has changed so much... Read morePublished on April 11, 2007 by Amazon Shopper 99!
Unfortunately, just like most books of its kind (histories of specific firms written with full cooperation from the firm involved), "The Perfect Store" is way too obsequious to... Read morePublished on January 13, 2007 by Alex Martelli