Only ten minutes into the US Presidential debates Tuesday evening, Republican candidate John McCain mentioned former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Moderator Tom Brokaw had asked the candidates whom they saw as possible replacements for Henry Paulson, United States Secretary of the Treasury. McCain made the obligatory reference to Warren Buffet, then launched into a sales pitch for Whitman.
"I like Meg Whitman. She knows what it's like to be out there in the marketplace. She knows how to create jobs. She headed a company that started with only 12 people, and now 1.3 million people in America make their living on eBay." (For those of you who might be joining this post from outside the eBay world, that's known as "eBay math.")
He continued, "It's gonna have to be someone who inspires trust and confidence."
It's possible the recommendation came from Paulson himself. Whitman served on the Board of Directors at Goldman Sachs when Paulson headed the firm. When Meg was forced to step down from the Board due to a conflict-of-interest scandal involving "spinning," Paulson praised her (2002):
"We are grateful to Meg for the contribution she has made as a director," said Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We have benefited from her insight and dedication, and thank her on behalf of Goldman Sachs and its shareholders."
So do eBay sellers care about McCain's selection? You betcha! I started receiving emails from readers and noticed Twitter lit up with comments from eBayers - including the very man who hired Whitman, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Following his "tweets," it turns out he's not a great fan of the man who might next hire Whitman.