At 25, eBay is a reminder of a bygone internet

The company hit the quarter-century mark today.

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An eBay sign is seen at an office building in San Jose, California May 28, 2014. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS LOGO)
Beck Diefenbach / reuters

eBay is officially old. It turns 25 today, joining the likes of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Yahoo, both of which also had their quarter-century anniversaries earlier this year. Like Internet Explorer and Yahoo, eBay is showing its age. But while eBay isn’t exactly trendy anymore, it has an impressive legacy worth recognizing.

When eBay got its start way back in 1995, the internet was a very different place. The company was an early leader, and it survived ups and downs, including the dot-com bubble collapse. It’s probably safe to say that PayPal wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for eBay owning it from 2002 until 2015, and Elon Musk might not be who he is today if eBay hadn’t originally purchased PayPal for $1.5 million.

Today, eBay faces stiff competition, especially from Amazon and Amazon wannabes like Walmart. Last year, it parted ways with StubHub, selling it to Viagogo for $4.05 billion. Most recently, it has struggled to crack down on fake product reviews and coronavirus remedies, and in the most bizarre twist, six eBay employees were charged with allegedly cyberstalking a newsletter editor who was critical of the company. If eBay doesn’t crack under the pressure of critical bloggers, it might last another quarter century.

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