|Thu Aug 9 2007 07:51:46|
eBay's Politically Well Connected Meg Whitman
By: Ina Steiner
eBay CEO Meg Whitman appeared in Republican videos for George W. Bush's reelection campaign in 2004 at http://www.georgewbush.com/Innovators (no longer available). Today, the President of the United States lauded eBay in a speech with economic advisors:
"The entrepreneurial spirit has helped our economy keep pace with new technologies, and America is a leader in innovation. Twelve years ago, eBay did not exist. Today eBay is a global business that reported nearly $6 billion in net revenues last year. Hundreds of thousands of Americans now make part of their living by selling products on that website. eBay is an entrepreneurial success story that has helped thousands of Americans become entrepreneurs themselves."
While Whitman's high political profile contributes to some positive PR for the company, it has also drawn negative attention to eBay. The Huffington Post called Meg Whitman a kook and spotlighted pornography on eBay; the negative attention was due to her role as national finance committee chair in the Mitt Romney republican presidential campaign.
Assuming Romney sticks it out, expect the attention to heat up from other, more mainstream quarters. eBay could in fact be a political football as we approach the 2008 elections. The company has policies that have already angered more than a few special interests (religion, gun control, animal rights, to name a few).
Could eBay CEO Meg Whitman's personal political aspirations backfire for the company she works for? Is it appropriate for high-profile executives to take on a high-profile political role? Readers, you tell me.