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eBay CEO Reassures Employees as He Fends Off Carl Icahn

eBay warned employees last month not to let a shareholder battle with Carl Icahn distract them, and eBay CEO John Donahoe sent another letter to employees this week. “As predicted,” he wrote, “we’re having a public dialogue with activist investor Carl Icahn about the direction of our company. And his attacks have gotten personal, including accusations about our Board of Directors and me.”

Icahn has been relentless in pushing eBay to spinoff PayPal and in his criticism of how Donahoe and the eBay Board handled the Skype sale, and accusing two board members, Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook, of having conflicts of interest that impacted eBay shareholders.

Donahoe has gone on the defensive, as has board chairman Pierre Omidyar. On Wednesday, eBay released an infographic calling itself “one of the most successful companies in the world” and showing how eBay delivered “significant” shareholder value and comparing its stock performance to the S&P and NASDAQ.

Meanwhile Andreessen has not only defended his involvement in eBay’s sale of Skype to a group of investors that included his own firm while serving on eBay’s board, he has also gone on the attack against Icahn.

Donahoe also directed employees to a page of FAQs “regarding the Company’s 2014 Annual Meeting and certain matters to be discussed therein” with answers to such questions as “Why do you think Mr. Icahn is targeting us?” and “How will this affect us as employees?”

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In the FAQ, “What happens next?” eBay wrote, “The company and Mr. Icahn will manage his proposals through our normal proxy and annual shareholders meeting process. The annual meeting generally occurs in April, which is when shareholders will vote on all proposals being considered at the meeting.”

In his letter to employees on Tuesday, Donahoe asked employees to stay focused. “Make sure Mr. Icahn’s media statements don’t distract you from serving our customers, executing our plans and delivering growth. Let’s be relentless in our will to fight and our will to win. We’ll show our investors and the world who we really are through delivering great innovation, execution and results. I know I can count on you.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.