The site initially used web banners, but falling prices for advertising made web-banner revenue insufficient to cover expenses.
Trade Me then introduced fees for auction services: first for features such as bold titles; then in September 2000 it introduced "success fees".
Trade Me developed slowly initially, because its founder had little funding to pay for the costs of hosting and of expanding the site.
In addition, Trade Me initially offered a completely free service for both buyers and sellers, a strategy for expanding its member base at the cost of short-term revenue.
Trade Me was publicly listed as a separate entity on 13 December 2011 under the ticker "TME".
Trade Me Ltd also operates several sister websites including Find Someone, Travelbug, Safe Trader and Holiday Houses.
Anyway, there was nothing to do, so that night I started drawing a data model. Then when I came back to Wellington I literally sat on the couch and built the site on a laptop over a five- or six-week period." In its early stages Morgan humorously listed Trade Me for sale on e Bay with a $1 million buy-now price.
Though e Bay withdrew Morgan's auction, the prank sparked some interest among New Zealanders who realized the potential of online trading.
Sam Morgan founded Trade Me during the first few months of 1999, constructing the site while working full-time for Deloitte as a technology consultant.
Within Deloitte, Morgan worked on Internet projects and supply-chain issues.
The early strategy for Trade Me involved simply increasing its user base and encouraging members to refer their friends to the site.
Trade Me launched the Safe Trader escrow service about this time.
As of August 2015 Participating traders primarily use New Zealand's banking system to settle payments, although Trade Me now offers sellers the ability to accept credit card payments by 'Pay Now'.