Should Meg Whitman Go? Blodget thinks "maybe"

December 7, 2007   

I'm a sucker for good headlines, so when I read "Meg Whitman Should Go" in the subject of my email inbox this morning (yes, I receive news in more than just my RSS reader -- read about it here), I could do no less than make the Alley Insider article the first thing I read this morning. What makes his post especially interesting, is that Henry is speaking from a shareholder's perspective (he's long eBay and has been for some time, apparently). Blodget's stance is that eBay has had a long time to make itself (in the public eye) more than an auction-oriented retail outlet, and that in the process of trying to do just that, Whitman has failed.

I agree with him that there's a lot of wasted potential at eBay. I used to think it was one of the sexiest stocks around. During my first summer in college, I worked for portfolio manager in Cincinnati, getting a great hands-on experience with stocks on a fundamental level (we weren't traders).

It was then that I actually fell in love with Internet-based businesses -- and especially eBay -- for the simple model that they had (build software, pay incrementally for software to "work," and earn exponentially when the software and business work together). It was amazing to me that each time a new auction went up on eBay they would collect their three bucks and their costs wouldn't be effected at all.

Talk about utility.

Anyway, I loved eBay then for its simplicity. But I also hoped that they would revolutionize the online retail experience with more than just a critical (very critical) mass of commerce on their auction platform.

The purchase of Skype (one of Blodget's biggest criticisms) had many believing that a quick way for retailers and purchasers to talk would be a fabulous integration with their platform.

Didn't happen.

Same thing with the purchase of StumbleUpon (for much, much less cash, of course). Sure it made sense in a really un-simple way, but integration hasn't happened yet. eBay just owns it.

So, if Meg can't get eBay back to it's duh-simple roots and further revolutionize online retailing, then maybe she should go. I'm not screaming "kick her out" yet, like Blodget is, but I'm glad he's put her on notice. Something's got to change, and Amazon hasn't won this game outright yet.

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