Just like the redesign fits the current branding trends, their previous logo fit the mid-nineties web era in which it was created too... because it was wacky. I was young then but I was alive and online, and when you look back at anything online in those days, it feels like anything went. People were just logging onto and getting acquainted with this crazy new fad called the internet and the possibilities were (relatively) endless.
So 17 years later, now a big, respected company, one of the few success stories from the dot-com bubble, eBay felt the need to tone it down a bit. They kept the colors and the tight kerning, but now the type is consistent. I don't buy on eBay very much at all, so I haven't had reason to look at their logo as of late but now that I'm staring at it, I'm glad they changed it. That having been said, they could have spiced it up while still accomplishing their goal of ditching the 90's flair, but with a lot of corporate rebrands that seems like too much to ask.
I understand that after having a purely typographical logo for 17 years (or 25 like Microsoft) there's little desire to introduce a brand new design element into the mix, but I also refuse to believe that the only place to go when you redesign your logo is to a basic san serif. Yes, the old logo was a simple san serif too (a few different Univers fonts), but there was variation between characters. The new is just Univers Extended, plain and simple.
Let's hear their take on it:
"Our refreshed logo is rooted in our proud history and reflects a dynamic future. It's eBay today: a global online marketplace that offers a cleaner, more contemporary and consistent experience, with innovation that makes buying and selling easier and more enjoyable. We retained core elements of our logo, including our iconic color palette. Our vibrant eBay colors and touching letters represent our connected and diverse eBay community – more than 100 million active users and 25 million sellers globally and growing."
Trivia time! Where did the name eBay come from? ElectronicBay, right? YOU'RE WRONG. echoBay was the original direction for the name (because it sounded nice), but when that was taken, eBay was it!
Update: Ebay has gone through a website redesign since this article was originally posted, if you are considering an update to your website design send your inquiries our way we'd be happy to set up a need's analysis meeting.