Ebay’s Meg Whitman to Step Down After a Decade as CEO

by Erick Schonfeld

meg-whitman.pngIt is not just Yahoo that is going through some rough times. After a decade at the helm, eBay CEO Meg Whitman is preparing to retire, reports the WSJ (subscr. req.). John Donahue, the president of eBay Marketplace, who was trotted out on a press tour about a month ago, is said to be the front-runner to be the next CEO.

During most of Whitman’s tenure, eBay seemed unstoppable. But the network effects that made it so powerful in the Web 1.0 era began to dissipate as destination sites began to lose some of their appeal. Now that people want to bring the Web to them—to their blog or MySpace or Facebook page—eBay needs to adapt to the new realities

It is not for lack of trying (see the bungled Skype acquisition). The old network effects still have a mighty pull, and generate a lot of money for eBay. Whitman maintained eBay’s dominant position in online auctions. But it just seems less and less relevant today.

Here is a ten-year stock chart. During the last two years, eBay has lost about half its value. Not a great note to leave on.