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Thu Dec 6 2007 23:23:32

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

By: Ina Steiner

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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?"




Comments (31) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: kh

Fri Dec 7 00:06:34 2007

You think BuySafe would enhance it's image. BuySafe is a parasite. Their image is equal to eBay's.

"Whitman gave Princeton University $30 million for a college in her name"...I wondered what happened to the price increases that ultimately led to our demise as a ebay seller.

Meg has lost all loyalty and that was her strength. STEP DOWN!

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Ed Tomchin

Fri Dec 7 00:30:42 2007

I miss the old eBay -- from back in 1998.  I'm glad Whitman grew eBay so successfully but given her recent lack of accomplishments and eBay's growing lack of customer care and fraud prevention, she, like I, should leave.  

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: KKC

Fri Dec 7 00:47:55 2007

Harry old boy...HOW MUCH HAS SHE BEEN SLIPPING YOU?

What exactly did Meg do to build the Ebay brand? More like ruin it! She ruined the concept. Put a bunch of stupid ads that appeal to idiots on the television. That's building the Ebay brand. Getting involved in lawsuits...that builds the Ebay brand.

Why does she need to be around? She has delegated her responsibilities for the last couple of years to a bunch of morons. You wonder why there are so many ridiculous changes! No checks and balances overseeing the morons that are doing her job. Why there's so many unhappy buyers and sellers..WHY EBAY ISN'T FUN!

RIGHT HARRY SHE'S DONE A GREAT JOB!

I suppose anyone in her corrupt corporate league WOULD ADMIRE her for all the manipulation she has done to acquire  the money she has made from Ebay.

She can afford to be generous and the Belle of the Ball. She should be doing more donating. THIS TIME FOR SOMETHING THAT ISN'T GOING TO BENEFIT HER!

In only going to be a matter of time when the arrogant xxxxx gets into politics...she wants to get right in there and belly up with the boys. Once she gets into politics...maybe, we will find out who the anitichrist is.

Professionalism...CHOKE AND PUKE!

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Say What?

Fri Dec 7 02:12:14 2007

"You think BuySafe would enhance it's image. BuySafe is a parasite. Their image is equal to eBay's."

What does this even mean? Given that buySAFE does more than handle eBay transactions, is the comment supposed to be more specific, or is vague because the speaker has no idea what they're talking about?

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: mabelandsamantha

Fri Dec 7 05:55:56 2007

Why do rich people pile more money on Ivy League colleges that already have billions in endowments? $30,000,000 would go a lot further if Meg gave to a community college or, gasp, a homeless shelter program.

And these big donations have big tax advantages, meaning that we ordinary taxpayers pay for this New Jersey Taj Mahal in the end.

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Bob S

Fri Dec 7 07:47:32 2007

Agreed on BuySafe.  

BuySafe's business is focused on 1) helping shoppers tell the difference between the good merchants and the bad merchants so that these same shoppers can feel confident, safe and secure buying on eBay, and 2) helping merchants convert more of these nervous folks into real honest to goodness buyers.  

Sounds like a perfect match since these two things are now at the top of Meg's list of priorities as well.  Frankly, these two things should have been at the top of Meg's priority list since the beginning!

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Grich

Fri Dec 7 09:01:28 2007

Step down? She should jump down as fast as possible. www.megorjeff.com

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Larry Shaffer

Fri Dec 7 10:17:21 2007

Many times we have threatened to quit eBay because of her dumb and crude decisions. She should have stepped down years ago. EBay will never be the company it could have been because of her actions more against than for sellers.

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Kirk

Fri Dec 7 10:30:03 2007

Step down ?  Seems more like she drove the company into the ground to me.   Or was that anothers fault as they specialize in externalizing blame.  Not sure who to blame for ruining the fee-bay market but if it was her, move on.   Let her take the x millions walking money and move on to the next company needing her help.  

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Dan

Fri Dec 7 12:17:07 2007

When Blodget interviewed her, she kept referring to the past.  Meg, do you drive your car by looking in the rearview mirror? Look forward take the steering wheel from the incompetent people you delegated to and start steering the ship again.  Assert yourself and be the leader you know you are.

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Alex

Fri Dec 7 17:54:47 2007

eBay needs new, visionary management NOW.

Not just Marge - but a complete housecleaning of all top management.

BTW: I can't believe there are only 10 posts on this thread...

:O)

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: jsicolts

Sat Dec 8 10:54:32 2007

step down? She should be THROWN DOWN - look at all the damage she has caused.

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: john

Sat Dec 8 11:34:26 2007

Meg Whitman and her partner in crime over at Trust & Safety John McDonald--both should be gone.  Harassing sellers while fraudsters run rampant...if I was a shareholder I would question the use of company resources to harass paying customers instead of resources protecting those sellers who will help to increase shareholder profits.

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Anon E. Mouse

Sat Dec 8 11:41:57 2007

Meg herself reminds me of eBay. She is only just over 50, still young, but she looks old, way out of shape and very unfashionable.

eBay needs some hip, young, new blood who understands the "streets" and has business sense. eBay desparately needs to attract new bidders while not alienating it's sellers. What it does not need is constant tinkering with searchs, catagories, etc. Keep the platform stable, grow the customer base!

As for building the brand, unfortunately, Meg built eBay into a brand associated with cheap knockoffs from China and fraud.

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: indyattic

Sat Dec 8 12:02:46 2007

Who cares? I also go back to 1998, and the eBay that worked for me is dead. It doesn't matter who runs it, because the day of the .99 auction is gone, replaced by power sellers and mass produced Chinese crap.  The fun of eBay used to be browsing categories, looking for "treasures."  That's impossible now. I hope eBay dies a slowwww painful death.

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Leonard Martin

Sat Dec 8 13:13:21 2007

From Blodget's lips to God's ear! After, trashing the site with ads (some of which now take buyers AWAY from eBay and its poor sellers), her minions are now monkeying with the eBay search engine in a way that could destroy it as a venue for collectors. Since that was what it started as, and has grown fat as, nothing could be more stupid. So dear, stupid, greedy Meg, please get lost quick!

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bob

Sat Dec 8 15:51:26 2007

It is such a shame.

eBay seems to be in deep spiral downward.  The company really is in trouble and no one at the healm acts like they even see the problems, or they don't care.   Hmmmm....

It is long overdue to a serious management shakeup.  However Meg Whitman has lined her pockets with so much money and shares of eBay that her Golden Parachute might swamp the company.  It is not gold, it is Platinum Parachute, diamond lined....
Look how much stock she owns, in additions the the millions and millions she has taken from the company.  And for what?????

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Colleen

Sat Dec 8 21:28:19 2007

With everything going so wrong on eBay it is apparent Meg Whitman is out for Meg Whitman and no one else.  Get her out now and we might have a chance to bring eBay back.

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: Ann Farmer

Mon Dec 10 01:36:44 2007

Dear Ina
I read the article about Meg Whitman stepping down, which prompted me to write this letter.
Like every ebay seller, we miss our old ebay. Why? Because we were able to make a profit and enjoyed our work. Last holiday season, I noticed my sales were down but I still made a little profit. This year is another story completely and it's not just me or my sales either, it's across the board.
Of course there are always a few hot items that will command decent prices but everything else is ending with either no bids or dirt cheap. Look at the listings, go to ending soonest and see all of the listings ending with NO bids at all. Sellers are desperate and all but giving away their stock, to keep from losing even more money.
Ebay can't claim they are doing well and breaking records this holiday season. If they do, it's an outright lie and someone needs to look at their books. They have never been generous with listing specials, so their decision to offer specials SCREAMS ''we are hurting''. Why don't they just admit it and ask sellers how they can turn things around? We know what works, how to sell, how to price but eBay has a mindset that ONLY eBay knows what's best for us. They make useless changes while ignoring the obvious and we are watching the demise of a site WE built.
Recently, I set up an account with Amazon. The first thing that happend was a call back, to confirm my phone number was valid, followed by close scrutiny to make sure I was an honest, reputable seller. WHY doesn't ebay realize, their problem is not the good sellers but the scammers? Why don't they realize they could stop much of that with ''Verification'' procdeures that don't stop with sign up? Honest people don't mind being scrutinized but you can be sure, the crooks wouldn't make it on Amazon.
I am not just a complainer. I have submitted this suggestion to eBay more times than I can count but it has been ignored, like all other good suggestions by sellers. They are so focused on numbers, they allow anyone to sign up for an account and begin ripping people off. When you notify ebay that someone is a crook, they send you a form email that instructs you to notify a federal agency that won't even look at a scam, below $5000. They do nothing to the sellers we report and the scams keep on keeping on. When you mention eBay now, people automatically say, '' no way, there are too many crooks on that site''.
I have been a power seller on ebay for 7 years, have amazing feedback and two websites.
Today, I got an email from a buyer that broke my heart. ''He hoped he didn't hurt my feelings but he was concerned I was scamming him''.  Here is his exact quote.  '' I'm not accusing you of being fraudulent, but understand my concerns with this being eBay.  I hope I'm not being taken to the ''cleaners''.  No one has ever accused me of taking advantage of them and I was crushed.
Should Meg Whitman resign? NO, she should be fired. The decisions she has been responsible for, have left millions of sellers in desperate straights. The focus for ebay should be security, not just numbers of members. Instead, they are moving sellers with high shipping, lower in the searches. Big deal. Those are usually the crooks so why just move them lower in searches? Honest sellers don't rip people off with shipping. DUH.
I am sorry this is so long but My Holiday Sales are the pits and I know other sellers who are in the same position. We are hurting and eBay is doing nothing to fix the problems. I beg all sellers to bombard eBay with this issue and good suggestions. Maybe if we all join together, ONE MORE TIME, we can make them see the light.
Ann

Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?   Should eBay CEO Meg Whitman Step Down?

by: firemeg

Tue Dec 11 07:32:18 2007

Good post Ann.  That is basically what I've been hearing from eBayers for the past two years.

Over the next year, eBay's biggest competitors will be individual former sellers who will collectively take even more business away from eBay sellers.  Sites such as Amazon and eCrater have shown massive gains in their user bases and items for sale by third parties, while eBay inventory has diminished.

When a business owner finds and employee that is a very valuable asset, the owner must try to hold onto the employee - both for productivity sake and because that employee could likely become a competitor.  I was a low-mid level seller on eBay with 3 stores, one gold PS account, and 2 silver accounts.  It has been just over a year since I launched my first independent ecommerce site, and I've launched a total of four myself in the past year.  My combined sales are creeping up to gold PS on my own sites - but the best part is I no longer pay eBay and Paypal $4000+ in fees, nor do I have to abide by their rules, regulations or fall prey to the glitches that riddle the site.

Also over the past year I've had three eBayers sign-on as clients and have built them ecommerce sites of their own.  All of their sales are picking up as well as their traffic...while eBay's is declining.  My tiny service seems to be mirroring what Scott Wingo was saying about sales this holiday season.

For every day that a good & intelligent retailer stays on eBay, it is one day closer to the point that that retailer will never make it in ecommerce outside of eBay.  Those who have left months, or years ago, will have such a head start in traffic, inventory, and search engine placement that it will be cost prohibitive for new ex-eBayer small retailers to gain a foothold beyond eBay.

It's the final day of the current eBay promo and according to both Medved and PSU, the listing volume is the same today (with a sale) as it was in both 2006 and 2005.

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