I just finished reading the book The Perfect Store: Inside eBay and it was quite enlightening. From what I understand, eBay succeeded because:
- They had a very solid first-mover advantage because they built a strong community of users and thus had a lot of sellers and buyers on their site. This made the switching costs very high.
- They were very frugal, they perfected the art of thriftiness in a time were IT companies blew boatloads of cash on furniture, scotch and acquisitions.
- The founders stepped aside and allowed experienced managers to run the company, as opposed to trying to reinvent the managerial wheels once the business started making lots of money.