The last CEO standing from the days before the 2000 dot-com crash is leaving her post at the end of March. Long-time eBay CEO Meg Whitman is stepping away from the executive office she has occupied for nearly ten years. She will be replaced by John Donahoe, president of eBay’s marketplace division.
Whitman is credited with running one of the tightest ships in the Silicon Valley. Under her tenure, eBay has become synonymous with self-serve web merchandising, growing so large that it even frightened Google away from facilitating a similar marketplace through Google Base. At this time, the company’s only direct natural competitor is Amazon.com.
Though eBay is a solid company, its growth has fallen slightly behind the overall growth of the e-commerce sector, suggesting the firm is slowly losing market share. According to ComScore, e-commerce rose 19% in general during Q4-2007 while eBay only saw 12% growth in its gross merchandising volume. This perceived drop in market share makes the investment community slightly nervous. Over the past three months, eBay lost about 1/3 of its share value.
Whitman’s departure might or might not assuage the nerves of investors but it is likely time for a change of leadership at eBay. Whitman leaves eBay far stronger than she found it. She is one of the smartest and most consistent C-level players in the industry and, whether eBay likes it or not, Meg Whitman will be missed.