Yet again rumours are rife that Meg Whitman is about to retire, reports in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and Reuters say that she has recently “begun delegating more daily responsibilities and was completing succession plans”.
The front runner to take the reins is still John Donahoe, that would signal a change from a leader who puts the community at the fore to one who appears to be more interested in stocks and shares then the humble eBay seller.
Rumours of Meg leaving eBay are nothing new, and have been circulating on a regular basis for a few years, based on an old statement that “no CEO should stay more than a decade in the job”. That comment has been following her for years ever since her ten year tenure was achieved.
Many are saying that it’s time for change as the eBay group of companies is not in particularly good health. The share price is down, sellers are spreading their wings to Amazon and other auction sites and setting up their own websites. Skype wasn’t a great buy and was written down last year. I prefer to look back at the fledging company Meg joined when the eBay was still called “Auctionweb”. Just as she’s overseen the sight change from a dull black, white and grey site to a rich multicoloured multimedia site she’s also overseen the growth from a small startup to a company that’s created more self employed traders than any other in the history of commerce.
If Meg does leave eBay many will count it as leaving a failing company in need of revitalisation, and in some ways they’ll be right. I’ll look back on her management of eBay as the golden era when ecommerce became available to the man in the street and the age of opportunity and entrepreneurship.