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.