Meg Whitman - The Driving Force Behind eBay

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN024
Case Length : 18 Pages
Period : 2003
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : eBay
Industry : Online Auction
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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"People say eBay has a bullet-proof business model. But it's Whitman who keeps it dodging bullets."

- From an article published in www.allperson.com, in August 2000.1

At The Helm of Success

In October 2002, Fortune Magazine ranked Meg Whitman (Whitman), CEO of online auction major eBay, as the world's third most powerful women in business, after Carly Fiorina and Oprah Winfrey. According to Fortune, Whitman 'ruled the Internet,' and under her leadership, eBay's revenues and profits doubled every year. Reportedly, eBay's stock grew by 30% during 2001, even as the technology sector across the world experienced a severe downturn.

Such recognition was nothing new for Whitman; she received many accolades for her contribution to eBay and for her managerial abilities. Whitman was ranked number one on the Worth Magazine's list of the Best CEOs in 2002.

Leadership and Entrepreneurship Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Case Studies

Since 2000, she had been continuously named as one of the 25 most powerful business managers in the world by BusinessWeek magazine. eBay also won many awards under her leadership (Refer Exhibit I for a list of awards received by Whitman and eBay). Reportedly, Whitman was an old-fashioned, low-key manager, who did not possess the 'star-quality' of Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, or the electric energy and charisma of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com. But still, Whitman had succeeded where many had failed. While many dotcom businesses crashed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Whitman steered eBay towards success. According to analysts, eBay was the only Internet company that had registered continuous growth and profits since its inception in 1995. Industry observers felt that Whitman's trust in eBay's business model and her business acumen were the major reasons for the company's growing revenues.

Revenues increased from $4 million in early 1998 (when she joined eBay) to $1 billion by late 2002 (See Exhibit II for eBay's Income  Statement). This was attributed to her strong belief in eBay's business model and its customers. In fact, such was her belief in this model that in September 2000, at the depths of the dot-com depression, she set a target of earning $3 billion in revenues by 2005.

Commenting on this in early 2003, Whitman said, "I think people thought we were nuts because we set that in the middle of 2000 when we did $425 million in revenues. Now it seems very reasonable and we are absolutely standing by it."

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1]  "Meg Whitman eBay Inc.," www.allperson.com, in August 2000.

 

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