Beyond Amazon, eBay, and Etsy: free and low cost alternative marketplaces, shopping cart solutions and e-commerce storefronts
by Hillary "The Whine Seller" DePiano
If business creation myths have their own creation story, it was penned by Mary Lou Song.
One of eBay’s first employees, Song grew frustrated trying to get the attention of dot-com-weary reporters. She hit on the notion of telling them that founder Pierre Omidyar had started the site to help his fiancée, Pam Wesley, find more of the Pez dispensers she collected.
“Nobody wants to hear about a thirty-year-old genius who wanted to create a perfect market,” she reasoned, according to Adam Cohen’s book The Perfect Store: Inside eBay. “They want to hear that he did it for his fiancée.”
The myth stuck, and soon became popular legend. The real story, according to Cohen, is that Omidyar decided to turn his part-time hobby into a full-fledged business after he posted a broken laser pointer for sale on a whim and saw it go for $14.
I was just thinking about this the other day. I feel like, in the early days of eBay, this story was everywhere and it’s been years since I’ve heard it so I guess it’s been well buried.
But it begs the questions… why was it cool for Song to just make this up? Was their fallout from their lying about it to the media? I don’t remember any but, then again, I was in high school so my mind was on other things. Do you remember the dirty details?