The famous story that eBay was created by Pierre Omidyar to help his girlfriend collect PEZ dispensers was a lie created by a company PR flack to get more publicity, Adam Cohen has revealed in the book The Perfect Store: Inside eBay. (Link found on TechDirt.)
While I was working as a newspaper journalist in 2000, I fell for this hoax in my syndicated trivia column, writing the following in response to a reader who was looking for PEZ dispensers:
Incidentally, eBay was founded by Pierre Omidyar in 1995 to provide a place where his girlfriend could buy PEZ dispensers. More than 450,000 new items are now auctioned each day on the Web site, which has 7.7 million registered users.
By admitting this story now, eBay is running the risk of catching hell from the reporters who were misled by this fairy tale over the years. As a reporter, there's nothing I hated more than being the conduit of false information, and I never forgot the sources who successfully fleeced me. My wife M.C. Moewe, also a journalist, is still firing off expletives about some lies told to her by a devious EDS flack trying to manipulate a story around 12 years ago.