eBay CEO High Bidder in Auction for Romney Presidential Cabinet Spot?
Q: You said in the past that a CEO should probably serve 10 years. You’ve served eight. What are your plans? Will you follow your own advice?
A: The first piece of advice I wish someone had given me as a freshman CEO is to keep your mouth shut. Somehow I didn’t get that advice, which is don’t talk about when you’re coming or when you’re going because it just creates a set of questions that probably aren’t productive.
Looks like eBay CEO Meg Whitman may make good after all on her pledge that no CEO should stay more than a decade. Whitman, the public face of eBay for the past 10 years, is reportedly preparing to retire. She has been delegating more tasks to deputies over the last few months and is expected to decide on her retirement in the coming weeks, The Wall Street Journal reports, quoting “people familiar with the matter.”
John Donahoe, who joined eBay in 2005 to lead its auction business unit, is the leading candidate to succeed her.
Rumors of Whitman’s imminent departure come at a critical time for eBay. The company is due to report earnings for the fourth quarter tomorrow. And though this quarter includes the traditionally strong year-end holiday period, it will likely be marred by a general slowing in eBay’s core auction business and the company’s continued struggles with Skype, the Internet telephony outfit for which it recently took a $1.4 billion write-down.
So perhaps it’s a perfect time for Whitman to step aside. Certainly she leaves a storied career behind her. She led the company through its 1998 initial public offering, and from there through some 40 quarters of sequential revenue growth. An impressive achievement by any measure–Skype acquisition be damned. Now, maybe it’s time to move on to bigger things.
Much bigger. Like perhaps a position in the cabinet of friend and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (shown below, left, with Whitman and VC Steve Jurvetson)? Whitman can’t be suffering through those Romney fund-raising telethons for nothing, right?