EBAY

Most e-commerce start-ups died long before they got old. But eBay skipped adolescence entirely — heading straight to profitability — thanks largely to Meg Whitman, a seasoned corporate executive who in 1998 began overseeing the online curiosity that rapidly morphed into the world's most successful e-commerce company. Valued at $32 billion, eBay generates $59 million a day, $684 per second. Today, mom-and-pop shops do business alongside the likes of IBM, Kodak and Sears Roebuck — and many stake their livelihood on the digital marketplace. "I think there's a minimum of 150,000 businesses that might not exist without eBay," Whitman marvels. Reflecting...

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