About us

Our story

Find out about Trade Me’s history.

The idea of buying stuff you've never seen, from someone you've never met, from places you've probably never been to was a foreign concept back in 1999 but one that Sam Morgan saw potential to innovate for Aotearoa.

In late 1998, Sam was working in a corporate IT job and on the hunt for a heater to warm up his cold Wellington flat, and found that the only option was to look in the newspaper classifieds pages. Once he found his desired heater he called only to realise that the listing was now out of date and not available. This frustration, combined with his knowledge of the growth of the internet, an idea came to light.

Seeing this as an opportunity, he launched version one of Trade Me in March 1999, building the site over six weeks. It was a website that allowed you to buy and sell items, but it was always up to date. A few weeks later he brought live auctions to the site after noticing their prominence on US sites.

Trade Me looks a lot different to how it did in 1999

“I wanted something where I could be a high achiever.” - Sam Morgan, Unlimited magazine, February 2000

The initial start-up costs for Trade Me totalled $12,000. Sam sourced the cash from various sources including credit cards and loans from friends and family. The first employees of Trade Me were his sister, Jessi, who ran operations, Rowan Simpson, who built the software, and Nigel Stanford who came on board as a designer.

Trade Me officially went live in March 1999, with four employees and 20 members, who were all Sam’s friends and family.

With a desire to make the platform work and for more people to join, Sam would letterbox drop, send emails and drive around Wellington in his bright green Holden with ‘Trade Me’ signwriting. After five months the site grew to 1,000 members. Fast forward three years and it hit 100,000 in 2003, and continued to grow every year. Trade Me went on to win the top award as the fastest-growing New Zealand company of the year at the Deloitte/Unlimited Fast 50 Awards in October 2004.

In 2005 we welcomed our millionth member and by 2006 Trade Me was the most visited site in New Zealand attracting more than two million visitors a month, with 1.2 million members.

Over the years, we've expanded into different areas with FindSomeone in 2001,Trade Me Motors in 2003, Trade Me Property in 2004, and Trade Me Jobs in 2006.

The sale of Trade Me

After owning the company for seven years, Sam sold Trade Me in 2006 to Fairfax for $700M but remained as the CEO until 2008, where he handed over the reins to Jon McDonald.

In 2011 Trade Me was listed on the NZX and ASX under “TME”. Then in 2019 Apax put in a $2.56b offer to acquire Trade Me and it was subsequently sold and removed from the stock market. 2019 was also the year current CEO Anders Skoe took over as Chief Executive.

Trade Me today

Today, Trade Me is Aotearoa’s biggest and most popular auction and classifieds site, with millions of new and used items in a wide range. Since 1999, Trade Me’s purpose has been to connect Kiwi and enable them to buy and sell, faster and easier than ever before.

Find out more about Trade Me’s Values, Vision and Purpose

Read more about our executive leadership team

Trade Me: A Timeline

1999 - Trade Me was founded by Sam Morgan

2000 - Success fees added. We hired the first staff members to keep up with the rapidly growing classifieds ads

2001 - FindSomeone launched

2002 - OldFriends launched

2003 - Trade Me Motors launched

2004 - Trade Me Property launched

2005 - Trade Me reaches one million members

2006 - Sold to Fairfax for $700m | Trade Me Jobs launched

2007 - Pay Now launched

2008 - Trade Me reaches one million concurrent listings onsite (it’s now eight million as of this morning)

2008 - Sam Morgan hands over the reigns of CEO to Jon McDonald

2009 - Acquisition of Holiday Houses

2010 - Trade Me daily deals launches | Trade Me iOS app launched

2011 - Trade Me listed on NZX and ASX under “TME”

2012 - Acquisition of Holiday Homes, AutoBase and Tradevine | Trade Me Android app launched | Trade Me Property iOs app launched

2013 - Daily deals retired | Acquisition of LifeDirect and MotorWeb

2014 - Acquisition of Paystation | Trade Me Jobs iOS app launched

2015 - Trade Me’s one billionth listing went live | Launched Trade Me Insurance | Trade Me Property Android app launched | Invested in Harmoney

2016 - Book a courier launched | Trade Me Jobs Android app launched | Old Friends broke up

2017 - Launched Buyer Protection and instant payments platform Ping

2018 - Apax offer $2.56b to acquire Trade Me | The Kindness Store opened it’s virtual doors to help charities | Invested in Sharesies

2019 - Shareholders vote to approve Apax’s offer | Trade Me delisted under Apax ownership | Anders Skoe takes over as CEO

2020 - Trade Me sells LifeDirect

2021 - Trade Me acquires Homes.co.nz

2023 - Trade Me purchases 51% stake in Autograb