If she goes there will be trouble…

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Is eBay chief executive Meg Whitman ready for a new job? asks Forbes magazine. No, says an eBay spokesperson, “she actually plans on staying at eBay for the long term.”

Yes, says Scot Wingo. “The timing of an exit now would be best because there wouldn’t be a lot of chaos.”

Yes, says Jeetil Patel, an analyst with Deutsche Bank. “EBay’s been a slowing growth story for some time. The company hasn’t really changed with the times, and it comes down to [Whitman’s] playbook–it’s getting old and dusty.”

So how long is “long term”? By Meg’s own definitions, she’s been at eBay longer than she should have. And eBay have already begun to groom the media to accept her second-in-command, John Donahoe, who was the subject of a saccharin article in the New York Times earlier this year.

Those who want to fire Meg might like to consider the old saying “better the devil you know”. An eBay with John Donahoe at the helm would not be a comfortable one for sellers. Donahoe is a business man, brought to eBay to preside over their business unit: his first priority at eBay is keeping the shareholders happy, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. Much as Bill Cobb appears to be disliked by some sellers, at least he gets out and meets real eBay users. If Whitman is to step down in favour of Donahoe, we’d like to see him more involved with buyers and sellers. Unlike Whitman and Cobb, Donahoe currently hasn’t even made a major keynote speech at an event like eBay Live, and is to all purposes unknown to, and ignores, the community at large. eBay at the moment might only pay lip service to Pierre Omidyar’s community ideals, but under Donahoe, it seems unlikely they’d even do that.

If you think eBay change things now without notice and pull the rug out from underneath your business model, things under Donahoe will be ten times worse. Be careful what you wish for, because it might just turn round and bite you in the ass.

3 Responses

  1. Biddy – You may be right! I’m not sure Meg is the problem though she is the top executive. She turned over the entire marketplace business to John Donahoe — 2 years ago. Is this a coincidence that the problems with eBay’s marketplace business started about that same time?

    Bill Cobb is kind of like the Wizard of Oz and Donahoe is the guy behind the curtain. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” Donahoe is a bean counter not a CEO type. It certainly appears Donahoe is the problem.

  2. Since the ship is already going or gone down already for many eBay sellers.

    We will take our chances with the new leadership , frankly many of us are now multi-channel now due to Meg’s stewardship.

    Lets see what the new captain can do a better job , and if not cast them off for good

  3. Chairman, the problem is the new Captain will be John Donahoe. I don’t see a complete managment change though that would be my preference. John Donahoe has been in charge of the Marketplace biz for the last 2 years. If Meg goes, he’s the one in line for the job and Bill Cobb would take his job. Joy! Joy!

    Meg, is spending her time working on the Power of Three!

    If Meg does leave (she won’t be forced out) my Vote is for bringing back Jeff Jordan. That would be the right move.

    It is apparent Pierre Omidyar has no power any longer or his Billions have made him uninterested.



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