Case Study Contents

  1. Introduction – eBay CEO Meg Whitman plans to retire
  2. Meg Whitman – Early years and Career Growth
  3. Meg Whitman and Leading eBay
  4. Hiring the right people
  5. Quickly understanding the new business model
  6. Leading eBay’s IPO – a hands-on approach
  7. Changing eBay’s policy
  8. Building one of the most powerful e-commerce systems in the world
  9. Focus on Metrics
  10. Customer Focus – ‘Voice of the Customer’ program
  11. Strategic Decision Making
  12. Exhibit I: eBay stock performance graph
  13. Exhibit II – Quick Facts/Key Information on eBay
  14. Exhibit III – Awards Received By Whitman
  15. Exhibit IV – Major Awards Received By eBay


Case Study Abstract

Introduction – eBay CEO Meg Whitman plans to retire

In the beginning, I was certainly not an entrepreneur who came up with the idea, but I think I was fairly entrepreneurial in trying to figure out how to bring that idea to life and build a backbone for the company that could take it to the next level.
– Whitman commenting on her journey from a novice to a leader in the dotcom world.

At the beginning of the year 2008, Margaret Whitman (Whitman), the chief executive (CEO) of eBay, announced plans to retire so as to breathe fresh life into the company and also provide a much needed radical reinvention of eBay. By March 2008, Ms. Whitman, 51, had served in the position for 10 years. Whitman joined eBay as chief executive in 1998. She was popularly known as Meg Whitman and ‘darling of the Internet’. In 2007, she accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award for the community of buyers and sellers that make up eBay. Whitman ranked 22nd on’s list of the world’s most powerful women. In October 2002, Fortune Magazine ranked Whitman, as the world’s third most powerful women in business, after Carly Fiorina and Oprah Winfrey.

However, some analysts called Whitman old-fashioned, a low-key manager and a ‘slow-footed CEO’ because even during the dotcom boom, she avoided risk and focused on financial fundamentals. Some felt that she 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 But the performance of eBay silenced her critics. When many dotcom businesses crashed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Whitman steered eBay towards success. EBay was the only Internet Company that had registered continuous growth and profits since its inception in 1995. Under her leadership, eBay’s revenues and profits had doubled every year. With her strong belief in eBay’s business model and its customers, revenues increased from $4 million to $1 billion by late 2002. She truly succeeded where many had failed.

Meg Whitman – Early years and Career Growth

Margaret C. Whitman, the youngest child of a Wall Street executive and popularly known as Meg Whitman was born in August 1956. She grew up in Long Island, New York. She was smart, studious and academically oriented since childhood. She graduated in Economics from Princeton University. Her penchant for business was evident when she had The Wall Street Journal delivered to her dormitory at Princeton University – unusual during the disco era of the 1970s. The business inclination took her to Harvard University, where she received her Masters in Business Administration.

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Case Study Keywords: eBay, Meg Whitman, Leadership case study, Internet auction market, darling of the Internet, powerful women in business, entrepreneurship, eBay’s business model, Pierre Omidyar, eBay’s IPO and policy decisions, metrics and measuring performance, Customer Focus – ‘Voice of the Customer’ program, ‘Buy It Now’ feature, iBazar, PowerSeller program, regional auctions, eBay Motors