eBay’s announcement on Monday that “Marc Andreessen has decided to resign from the company’s board of directors” appears carefully worded lest anyone think the board had ousted him. The distinction is important since eBay shareholder and activist investor Carl Icahn had accused Andreessen of having breached his fiduciary duty and holding a conflict of interest as an eBay board member.
eBay CEO John Donahoe reiterated his support for Andreessen in Monday’s announcement. “Marc has been an extraordinary board member, and we greatly appreciate the leadership, insight and expertise he has provided over the past six years. He has provided invaluable support to me, the board and the entire company.”
Andreessen joined eBay’s board in September 2008, 6 months after the board named John Donahoe to replace departing CEO Meg Whitman. Within the year, in June 2009, Andreessen co-founded venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Three months later, Andreessen Horowitz-led investors bought 65% of Skype for $1.9 billion in cash, and in 2011, Skype was sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion.
Icahn had criticized Andreessen’s role in eBay’s spinoff of Skype and his company’s investment in Skype, calling it a breach of his fiduciary duties as an eBay board member.
Andreessen defended himself in a blog post, and eBay founder and chairman of the board Pierre Omidyar said Andreessen recused himself from all deliberations throughout the board’s process of divesting Skype.
But Icahn also accused Andreessen of having a conflict of interest in gaining access to non-public information as an eBay board member while investing in and actively advising direct competitors of PayPal, including a mobile payments platform, Bitcoin wallet, and an online payment processor.
In eBay’s announcement on Monday Andreessen said, “It’s been an absolute privilege to serve with John, Pierre, and team, and I could not be more proud of what we’ve accomplished. I have complete confidence in John and the board to lead eBay and PayPal through the process of embarking on independent paths in 2015. I wish eBay, and both of its successor companies, all the best, and look forward to following the future of eBay and PayPal closely in the years to come.”
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