Henry Blodget writes in Silicon Alley Insider that eBay CEO Meg Whitman is "one of the Valley's most celebrated and admired executives" but thinks it is becoming increasingly clear that Whitman is not the right person for the job.
I've always thought Whitman did two things really well - build the eBay brand, and expand internationally (until China, that is). She also brought a level of professionalism to a young company that is often missing, though eBay turned into a PowerPoint culture along the way.
But I've also thought Whitman did some things very badly. Giving users inadequate customer service was one. And denial of fraud was another.
And then there were the missed opportunities. eBay failed to acquire auction patents from MercExchange. eBay was being both arrogant and penny-pinching in much the same way it handled PayPal prior to being literally forced to acquire it in 2002. And I'm still shaking my head at eBay's failed to embrace BuySafe, a service that could be helping its image right now at a time it desperately needs a boost in the trust department.
I have to wonder how much Whitman is even involved with running eBay these days given her numerous outside projects. Whitman gave Princeton University $30 million for a college in her name, and she told The Daily Princetonian that she has been keeping a close eye on the college's planning and construction. "I was shown designs all along the way and contributed suggestions throughout the process," she said.
Add to that distraction her battle with a developer in Telluride, home of her $20 million dude ranch. She and her neighbors raised $50 million for the cause.
And speaking of raising money, Whitman is the regional head of fundraising for United States presidential candidate Mitt Romney. She's even been quoted in articles that point to CEOs who are logging up large numbers of hours in personal time on their companies' corporate jets.
Add to this her other non-eBay responsibilities (she sits on the Board of Directors for Procter & Gamble and DreamWorks Animation, for example), and one wonders how she has time to run a major public company. (To be fair, she's not the only CEO with distractions. Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne is busy fighting Wall Street and working on school reform.)
Whether or not Whitman can take full credit for all of eBay's success, as Blodget seems to question, it's clear analysts are increasingly asking the CEO, "What have you done for me lately?"