Find out about Trade Me’s history and the most popular listings of all time.
Thousands of Kiwis visit Trade Me every day to get things done – from searching for their next home, car, or career to running their own business or hunting for a bargain. Find out about Trade Me’s history and the most popular listings of all time.
Trade Me’s history
We’ve been a part of Kiwis’ lives since opening our virtual doors in March 1999.
Trade Me’s founder: It all started with Sam Morgan’s hunt for a heater
The story goes that a young computer consultant named Sam Morgan started Trade Me after a frustrating experience buying a heater for his chilly Wellington flat. Sam was fed up with other websites that didn't cater well to Kiwis, and he reckoned he could offer something better.
At the time, the concept was pretty strange – buying something you’d never seen, from someone you’d never met. In the early 2000s, viewing a car, job or property online was a foreign concept to most New Zealanders. Now it’s the norm.
A lot has changed over the past 20 years.
Two decades later
In just over two decades, Trade Me has moved from being a site for finding a secondhand bargain to the place you go to find your first home, launch a new business, purchase a car or take the next step in your career.
Today, Trade Me is visited 1.9 million times every day by an average of 650,000 Kiwis. There are more than 9 million listings onsite at any one time, and we employ more than 500 people across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
What’s next for Trade Me?
Technology is moving rapidly, and advances in the areas of voice search, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more create more opportunities for us to make cool things that help Kiwis get things done.
Timeline of Trade Me’s history
1999 Trade Me founded by Sam Morgan
2001 FindSomeone launched
2002 OldFriends launched
2003 Trade Me Motors launched
100,000 concurrent listings onsite
2005 Trade Me Property launched
2006 Trade Me Jobs launched
2007 Travelbug launched
Pay Now launched
2008 1 million concurrent listings onsite
2009 Acquisition of Holiday Houses
2010 Trade Me daily deals launched
Acquisition of BookIt
Trade Me iOS app launched
2011 Treat Me launched
2012 Trade Me listed as a public company
Trade Me Android app launched
Trade Me Property iOs app launched
2013 Treat Me sold
Daily deals finished
Trade Me Jobs iOS app launched
2015 Launched Trade Me Insurance
Invested in Harmoney
1 billionth listing went live
Trade Me Property Android app launched
2016 Old Friends closed
Book a courier launched
Trade Me Jobs Android app launched
2017 Safetrader closed
2018 Invested in Sharesies
2019 Trade Me acquired by Apax Partners
Trade Me Apple Watch app launched
2020 Trade Me sells LifeDirect
Top Trade Me listings of all time
Over the years, we’ve seen the weird, wonderful and eye-catching ways people use their listings to unearth remarkable memorabilia, inspire intrigue, take the mickey, draw attention to social issues, or support a charitable cause. These are our most viewed listings of all time.
Hall of fame
1. The handbag Tana Umaga used to hit his teammate over the head in a Christchurch pub (2006)
This infamous accessory was used by Tana Umaga to hit teammate Chris Masoe at the Jolly Poacher bar in Christchurch following the Super 14 final. Following nationwide media coverage, this listing took on a life of its own and finished with a history-making 1.07 million views and sold for $22,800.
The auction included the handbag as well as a cellphone and newspaper clipping.
2. A possessed printer (2013)
Certainly a bane of the modern era, this non-functioning printer was described by the seller as ‘evil incarnate’. The buyer, with a winning bid of $280, opted for the seller to destroy the printer on national TV, and that's exactly what he did. With a witty description and suitable photos to boot, the printer became the second most-viewed listing in Trade Me history with 1 million views.
The ‘possessed printer’ listed on Trade Me.
3. Radio Network Implosion in Christchurch (2012)
One of the most unique ways to be part of the Christchurch rebuild was put up for auction in July 2012 and attracted 459,000 views. The 14-storey Radio Network House needed to come down, and what better way than an implosion? Eventually, the button-pushing rights were sold to a pool of seven demolition contractors for $26,000. They then gifted the rights to the Child Cancer Foundation, who nominated a six-year-old boy from Queenstown to do the honours.
The chance to demo the Radio Network House in Christchurch attracted a lot of attention.
4. Jesus Christ pita bread (2009)
Feeling hungry, our seller decided to heat up some pita bread in the oven. After removing it from the oven she found one of the pieces looked like the face of Jesus. She was tempted to eat, but instead listed it on Trade Me.
It’s a good thing the seller resisted the hunger pangs, as the listings received 276,000 views and sold for $215 to another spiritually-hungry Trade Me member.
Do you see Jesus or just a snack?
5. Unwanted gift $100 (2015)
Listed just after Christmas, this seller from Ashburton decided to have a laugh about unwanted gifts. He put the $100 note he’d received for Christmas, but didn’t want, up for auction. It turned out to be a smart investment as the listing received 268,046 views and sold for $257.50.
Not a bad investment. This unwanted $100 sold for more than $200.
6. Australian sports tape (2018)
A strip of sandpaper or ‘Australian sports tape’ went up for auction after the Aussie cricket team came under fire for ball tampering during a game against South Africa. The seller’s tongue-in-cheek auction described the item as ‘perfect for cheating’ telling members to ‘get in quick before Steve Smith buys it all up!’. The auction made headlines around the world, fetching over 260,000 views, 1900 Watchlists and 299 hilarious comments before it sold for $58.
It’s just not cricket. This sandpaper was listed on Trade Me following a sporting scandal.
7. Flying hovercraft (2010)
Is it a plane? Is it a boat? Is it a hovercraft? This machine, listed by Rudy Heeman from Nelson, was classed as a boat but could also operate as a hovercraft – causing quite a stir onsite. Having taken ‘years to perfect’ Rudy let potential buyers know that the machine was fast and furious, roared like a lion, and was not for the ‘faint hearted’. The sale included ‘driving/flying/riding’ lessons and a ‘liability disclaimer that must be signed on pickup’. The listing soared to 248,000 views and sold for $27,500.
What a way to travel. This hovercraft attracted lots of attention after being listed on Trade Me.
8. Two captured ghosts (2010)
This listing for two ghosts captured from the seller’s house attracted more than 214,000 views. The spirits, believed to be a man who died in the house in the 1920s and a little girl summoned after a ouija board session, had been subdued with holy water in the bottle. The seller felt confident the ghosts were contained in the vessel as they hadn’t observed any activity in the house since they were captured. The seller also included directions for how to revive the spirits, if the new seller wished to do so. The two souls sold for a scary $2,830.
Two spirits ‘subdued’ in holy water made quite the impression when they were listed onsite.
9. Travelling hat (2019)
In 2019, a travelling family became world famous after a video emerged of the youngest member swearing at locals in Takapuna while wearing a Bunnings Warehouse hat. Days after the video emerged, a member listed an identical Bunnings Warehouse hat that ‘may or may not’ have belonged to the infamous family. The straw hat had a staggering 192,000 views and the hilarious description warned prospective buyers that the seller ‘cannot be responsible for any obscenities that may flow from your mouth’. The hat sold for $1,000 with all proceeds being donated to Mercy Hospice.
The most popular Trade Me listing of 2019 was for a Bunnings hat, which may or may not have featured in a viral news story.
10. Lisa Lewis’ streaker bikini from All Blacks vs Ireland match (2006)
An All Black’s test match against Ireland had an attention-grabbing finish – and it wasn’t the rugby. In the last 30 seconds of the game, Lisa Lewis streaked across the field in nothing but a green and black Rip Curl bikini. She was dragged off the field and ended up getting arrested. She auctioned off the bikini to help cover the costs of her daring stunt. She was sure to let bidders know that the bikini had been washed. The listing streaked to 191,000 views and sold for $4,010.
Lisa Lewis listed this infamous bikini onsite to help cover costs associated with her daring stunt.