SAN JOSE — During eBay’s rapid rise to Internet commerce powerhouse, the company nurtured a quaint tale of its origins, saying founder Pierre Omidyar created the site in 1995 so his fiancee could trade PEZ candy dispensers with other collectors.
It seemed to embody a seminal Silicon Valley moment as humble as the garage births of Hewlett-Packard Co. and Apple Computer Inc.
The story was so tied to eBay’s identity that chief executive Meg Whitman often was photographed with PEZ collections, and 121 dispensers are on display in the lobby at company headquarters.
Too bad the story isn’t true.
According to a new book on eBay, “The Perfect Store” by Adam Cohen, the PEZ myth was fabricated to interest reporters in the site in 1997.
The truth was merely that Omidyar had realized an auction-based marketplace would be a great use of the Internet.