Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Perfect Store: Inside eBay By: Adam Cohen @ Rm60.00
Publisher: Piatkus Books - 2003-05-29
Paperback | 320 Pages
Ebay (www.ebay.com) is the single most visited commercial site on the internet - and one of the most successful. The Perfect Store tells the story of eBay's humble beginnings, launched from a spare bedroom in Pierre Omidyar's house, to its current status today - with 1,664,000 visitors a day, 20 million registered users and 75,000 people relying on eBay for their income. eBay started as a way to help Omidyar's fiancee trade with other collectors. It turned a profit in its first month and went on to change the face of business, creating the 'perfect market'. - Reveals details of the company's rapid rise and the fascinating impact it has had on its users through the virtual marketplace. - Examines the range of customers, from the woman who wakes at 3.00am to bid on a toaster, to the woman who had to rent a warehouse for her thriving business selling bubble-wrap. - Reveals why eBay has succeeded when so many dot-coms have failed. - Provides essential reading for those trying to understand how the Web is changing business, and for those trying to anticipate the next big thing.
In the short but wild history of the Internet, few companies have developed such an ideal approach to utilizing the uniqueness of the medium for business as eBay--hence the title of Adam Cohen's colorful and insightful corporate biography The Perfect Store. Cohen, chief technology writer for Time magazine before joining The New York Times' editorial board, is the only journalist to receive complete cooperation from the company for such a project, and the combination of access and experience leads to a well-researched and well-written tale capturing the essence of this online auction-house phenomenon. In the process, Cohen reveals how the pioneering site first developed into a vibrant virtual community, then a cultural icon and a model for Web-based commerce that reported revenue of $749 million in 2001. 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