Ebay vs. Enron

This article describes the differences between Ebay and Enron, and why one succeeded while the other failed.

Why did eBay work where Enron failed? Both set out to create revolutionary new Internet-based marketplaces. One of them is a legend in the making, the other is already the stuff of history.

This is no matter of idle curiosity to economists, who are paying increasing attention to how electronic markets work. In one sense, it is work they thought they wouldn't need to do. The mechanisms of markets are well understood and have been little changed–from an economist's perspective–for hundreds of years.

There was more at play here than the fact that Enron's executives were unethical. Enron made a lot of other mistakes, which makes me think Lay, Fastow and company were more interested in pumping the stock than running a good solid business.

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