TIME Companies

See Everything You Need to Know About eBay in 2 Minutes

On the site's 20th birthday

Happy 20th birthday, eBay.

Pierre Omidyar founded “AuctionWeb” in September 1995. Eventually retitled eBay, the company pulled in nearly $18 billion in revenues last year.

The site is home to the macabre, the wondrous and the luxurious. With just a few clicks, your PayPal account, and a generous credit line, you could buy a demonic doll, the meaning of life, or a yacht—just a few things that’ve been sold on the site.

Above, have a look at the numbers behind the world’s largest auction site.

TIME twitter

Twitter Is Feeling Pressure to Name a New CEO

Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit - Day 2
Kimberly White—Getty Images for Vanity Fair Jack Dorsey

Co-founder Jack Dorsey is reportedly among the candidates

Investors are getting antsy over the precarious situation over at Twitter.

The social network, which saw CEO Dick Costolo depart at the end of June, has been without a permanent head since then. That may change after a company board meeting Thursday, a report says.

Twitter’s board will discuss the progress in its search process at the meeting and may provide investors with an update, according to Bloomberg. The company is considering naming interim CEO and Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey as its permanent chief. However, Dorsey is currently the CEO of mobile payments startup Square, and some analysts have reservations about letting the man permanently helm two companies at once.

Other candidates on the reported shortlist include former Cisco Systems executive Padmasree Warrior, CBS Interactive executive Jim Lanzone, and Twitter revenue chief Adam Bain.

Twitter has faced a rough summer, with a steep drop in its stock price, the departure of several product heads, and slow user growth. Upcoming changes—such as a robust marketing campaign and a new feature that will aggregate compelling tweets around specific topics—could help reverse the company’s fortunes.

TIME technology

The Small-Scale Story Behind eBay’s Big Bucks

Chairman and founder Pierre Omidyar and CEO Meg Whitman of EBay.com
James D. Wilson—Getty Images Chairman and founder Pierre Omidyar and CEO Meg Whitman of EBay.com, the online auction service, in California on June 15, 1998.

The site that became eBay was founded 20 years ago, on Sept. 3, 1995

The origin story of eBay—which was founded 20 years ago, as AuctionWeb, on Sept. 3, 1995–is fairly well-known: other tech giants have their garages, eBay has its Pez dispenser. Or, rather, founder Pierre Omidyar’s then-fiancée didn’t have a Pez dispenser. It was her desire to more easily expand her collection that inspired Omidyar to create a way for her to arrange sales and purchases online.

But, as any number of start-ups have found, a good idea and good code do not a profitable business make. And the reason for eBay’s transition from small project to a functioning company is much less cute than the Pez story. Omidyar was running the business at home, and his Internet provider started to charge him more, as TIME explained in a 1999 story about the rise in online auctions:

eBay started out free, but it quickly attracted so much traffic that Omidyar‘s Internet service upped his monthly bill to $250. Now that it was costing him real money, Omidyar decided to start charging. He concocted a fee scale similar to the one eBay uses today: a nominal fee for listing an item (10¢back then, as little as 25¢ now) and a percent of the final sale price.

The payments that arrived with Omidyar‘s daily mail were small–in some cases dimes and nickels taped to index cards. But those little payments were coming in piles. eBay took in $1,000 the first month, more than it cost to run. Omidyar really knew he was onto something when he put up a listing for a broken $30 laser pointer that he was about to throw out. He fully disclosed that it didn’t work–even with new batteries–and started it at $1. Inexplicably, a bidding war ensued, and someone ended up taking it off his hands for $14. Meanwhile, the site’s revenues kept doubling: they were $2,500 the second month, then $5,000, then $10,000. Omidyar eventually had another insight. “I said O.K., I’ve got a hobby that’s making me more money than my day job,” he recalls. “So it might be time to quit the day job.”

As of May 2015, Forbes placed eBay’s market value at nearly $69 billion.

Read more from 1999, here in the TIME Vault: The Attic of E

TIME Apple

Apple Will Likely Debut a Bigger iPad Next Week

Inside A SoftBank Store As Apple Inc. New iPads Go On Sale
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

It will be called the ‘iPad Pro,’ a report says

Next Wednesday, Apple will cram a big crowd of journalists, executives, and other lucky people into San Francisco’s Bill Graham Auditorium, and will reportedly unveil, among other things, a bigger iPad.

The bigger iPad has been rumored for quite some time, but 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman—a prolific Apple news whisperer—reported Wednesday that Apple will almost certainly materialize on Sept. 9. Trip Chowdhry, managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research, also told Fortune that the device will likely debut next week.

Geared toward power users, the “iPad Pro,” as Gurman reports it is actually named, will sport a 12-inch display, run iOS 9.1, support a Force Touch-based stylus, and have speakers on two sides. The iOS 9.1 operating system will reportedly include special versions of the Siri and Notification Center interfaces.

With all that said, there’s still a chance that Apple won’t reveal the bigger iPad next week. Pre-orders are slated for October, and shipments for November, so Apple could be planning a special event for it in October, according to Gurman.

Other rumored announcements for next include new iPhones, a revamped Apple TV, new bands for the Apple Watch, and possibly a new iPad mini.

TIME Google

Google Docs Has a New Killer Feature

It's called voice typing

Welcome back to the feature war. On Wednesday, Google will unveil a spate of new functions to Google Docs including voice dictation (Google’s calling it voice typing) which should be very nifty if it works as advertised.

Not only can you speak what needs to be typed, Google can translate what you say into 40 languages. A caveat: “We’re not sure it can handle the Boston accent yet,” said Ryan Tabone, director of product management for Google Docs.

To use the feature, a user needs to click on a microphone button and go. Microsoft Office does not have this yet, although since Microsoft has translation and speech recognition capabilities of its own, it’s probably just a matter of time.

Google, which gained early recognition for its applications by enabling team members to collaborate on documents, also added a “see new changes” option that lets you view all the changes made by your group while you were away. Perfect for control freaks.

“The idea is to make creating a document more of a conversation,” Tabone told Fortune.

There is also a new “research” feature on the Google Docs Android app which lets a user working on a particular topic highlight text to pull up relevant charts and graphs on that topic for easy insertion into her document. I’m not sure how Google handles intellectual property rights on all that stuff, but for anyone over 30, typing on a phone is a challenge and making it easier to add pertinent information to a document would be helpful.

And, Google also spiffed up its Sheets spreadsheet application with more polished templates. Sheets is probably where Google needs to make up the most ground against Microsoft since most spreadsheet jockeys still see Excel as the defacto standard. But remember, Google Sheets could do to Microsoft Excel what Microsoft Excel did to Lotus 1-2-3, the spreadsheet standard 20 years ago. Just saying.

Microsoft Office 2016, slated to debut broadly later this month, adds more collaborative capabilities including simultaneous edits on Word documents.

Google gained traction by taking the productivity suite to a subscription on-demand model. Microsoft has responded but Google Docs remains the cheaper option with a free version for consumers and a business edition starting at $5 per month per user or $60 a year. Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions start at $10.00 per user per month or $120 per year.

Office has been a cash cow for Microsoft and no one doubts how serious Microsoft is about it. Some still aren’t sure if Google, on the other hand, sees these applications as a priority. Google says it has added 100 features and improvements this year, and Google Docs is well entrenched among consumers, startups, and even some larger companies.

Analyst Sara Radicati, chief executive of the Radicati Group, said there should be no doubt that Google’s serious about these applications.

“They have invested heavily for the past 10 years or more and continue to do so,” she said via email. The Google lineup compares well with Office, and Google still sports a better cloud model while “Microsoft has to integrate with many desktop components that require constant updates,” she added.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com


This New Sony Phone Has the World’s First 4K Display

JOHN MACDOUGALL—AFP/Getty Images Newly released Sony Xperia Z5 smartphones.

It's even better than the iPhone 6

Get ready for even sharper images when using Sony’s recently unveiled new Xperia Premium smartphones.

The phone will be the first to have a 5.5-inch 4K display, according to The Verge. It’s likely to be released in November.

The pixel density on the upcoming Xperia Z5 Premium will be 806 ppi. Compare that to Apple’s 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, which has just 401 ppi, according to the publication.

The phone will be available in chrome, black, and gold, too, for a luxury feel.

But there are some potential issues with the greatly enhanced screens. One is a lack of footage that actually makes the most of the boosted specs. As The Verge notes:

Sony promises that the Z5 Premium will upscale videos and images to 4K, but upscaling is usually not as good as the real thing. (We didn’t get a chance to try out Sony’s method.) There’s also the issue of battery. Although Sony promises that the Z5 Premium will last up to two days on a single charge just like the Z5 and Z5 Compact, it’s not clear how this figure will hold up to any sustained video use on a 4K display.

The phone is, notably, heavier than the iPhone 6 Plus: It’s 180 grams versus 172 grams for the bigger iPhone.


Everything to Know About the Uber Class Action Lawsuit

London Taxi Cabs As Uber Technologies Inc. Blitz Leads To Drop in Black Cab Recruits
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A user scans for an available vehicle using the Uber Technologies Inc.'s app on an Apple Inc. iPhone 6 smartphone in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Thursday, May 14, 2015.

It's in for a fierce legal battle

A California judge on Tuesday granted class-action status to a employee status lawsuit filed against ride-hailing company Uber. The 68-page court ruling sets the stage for a fierce legal battle that could upend Uber’s business model.

Here’s what you need to know.

What does the lawsuit allege?

The lawsuit claims Uber has misclassified its employees as contract workers. It alleges that Uber treats drivers like employees but without providing the requisite benefits, like health insurance and expense reimbursements.

Who brought the case?

It was originally brought on behalf of three Uber drivers, but a California judge ruled that it applies to all drivers in the state, thus making the legal challenge a class-action lawsuit.

However, any drivers who waived their right to class-action arbitration cannot take part in the suit, which means only a minority of the 160,000 drivers in California can participate. Most drivers waived their right to class-action lawsuits after Uber updated its contract process last year. In fact, one of the three drivers who originally brought the suit cannot participate for this reason.

What does this mean for Uber?

It sets up a high-profile legal battle and could potentially require Uber to pay out a much larger settlement to drivers. It also puts Uber’s business model under pressure.

Uber has continually said that it’s a technology platform connecting drivers to passengers and not a taxi service that hires drivers directly. If the company loses the class-action suit, Uber may have to compensate its drivers like common employees, which would mean new costs like health insurance, workers’ compensation and reimbursing expenses such as tolls, fuel and car repairs.

What happens next?

Uber plans to appeal the California judge’s decision to allow class-action status. “We’ll most likely appeal the decision as partners use Uber on their own terms, and there really is no typical driver–the key question at issue,” an Uber spokesperson told Fortune.

TIME Apple

The New Apple TV Will Include This Amazing Feature That Users Have Been Waiting For

Apple Launches Upgraded iPod
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images The current generation Apple TV.

The new model will be unveiled on September 9.

The new Apple TV will finally give customers what they want — universal search.

The television will be unveiled at an Apple event on September 9 where the company will announce all of the software and hardware improvements it’s made to the device. Universal search is one of those improvements, BuzzFeed reports.

When users input a search query, this new feature enables them to receive results from multiple different sources rather than having to search through each streaming service separately. BuzzFeed‘s sources expect that universal search will radically improve the Apple TV experience.

Previous searching capabilities were mainly text-based, and the results were not nearly as intuitive as this new search feature is expected to be. This improved searching capacity is largely thanks to Matcha, a startup Apple acquired in 2013 that specializes in video discovery, and the inclusion of Siri on the new Apple TV.

The starting price for the new Apple TV will be $149.

TIME Companies

Everything to Know About eBay in One Graphic

The auction site turns 20 on Thursday

Like Amazon and Yahoo, auction website eBay is one of those old guard Internet companies that’s still having a big impact today. On Thursday, eBay celebrates its 20th birthday, meaning it’s a great time to look back at the site’s history.

Check out the infographic below for more on how eBay started and what’s happened since, —. There’s fun facts, too: Did you know, for instance, a pair of shoes is sold every two seconds in the U.S.?



TIME Drones

This Guy Caught a Fish With His Drone

Screenshot from YouTube

It could be a fishing first

A Kansas farmer appeared to make fishing history recently by catching a fish with nothing but the help of his trusty drone.

Derek Klingenberg piloted his DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter—armed with a fishing line and a camera—toward a lake, and promptly caught a fish with no rod. His elation is undeniable, and Klingenberg then demonstrated he might be the most tech-savvy farmer in the Midwest by posting his catch on Snapchat.

However, as Wired points out, Klingenberg isn’t necessarily the first to do this, since there was a similar video of a drone-powered fishing trip in 2013.

Klingenberg is also known for serenading cows with a trombone playing Lorde’s “Royals.”

Those who want to use a drone to fish, take a video selfie, propose marriage, or deliver sushi might want to check out Hong Kong-based DJI’s newest quadcopter, which was released in April.

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