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Whitman, Meg 1956–

Meg Whitman
1956

President and chief executive officer, eBay

Nationality: American.

Born: August 4, 1956, in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

Education: Princeton University, BA, 1977; Harvard Business School, MBA, 1979.

Family: Married Griffith R. Harsh IV (neurosurgeon); children: two.

Career: Proctor & Gamble, 19791981, brand assistant, brand manager; Bain & Company, 19811989, consultant; Walt Disney Company, 19891992, senior vice president of marketing; Stride Rite Company, 19921995, division president; Florists' Transworld Delivery (FTD), 19951997, president and chief executive officer; Hasbro, 1997, general manager; eBay, 1998, president and chief executive officer.

Awards: CEO of the Year, CBS/MarketWatch, 2003.

Address: eBay, 2125 Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, California 95125; http://www.ebay.com.

As president and CEO of eBay, Margaret (Meg) Whitman helped the company to become the leading consumer e-commerce site in the world. Whitman's extensive knowledge in brand building, combined with her knowledge of consumer technology, had a dramatic effect on the global market. In the process of transforming the way in which people buy and sell, Whitman became one of the wealthiest Internet CEOs in the United States.

EARLY LIFE

Born in 1957 in Cold Spring Harbor, an affluent community located on the north shore of Long Island, New York, Meg Whitman was the youngest of three children. Her father was a businessman and her mother was a homemaker, whom Whitman later described as a free-spirited and adventurous soul. Because her father worked long hours and was often away

from home, Whitman and her siblings spent a great deal of time with their mother. When she was six, Whitman's mother and her three children joined a family friend and her five children for a three-month camping trip in Canada and Alaska. Whitman later recalled that when the children became restless and unruly, Whitman's mother made them all get out of the camper and run ahead while she followed close behind. Some times, passing truckers, seeing the children running, stopped to ask if the group needed help. In an interview Whitman ex plained how her mother "finally put a sign on the back of the camper that said "We're okay" (New York Times, May 10, 1999).

In 1974 Whitman entered Princeton University thinking she wanted to pursue a career in medicine. After taking many of the required premed courses, however, she decided that medicine was not in her future. A summer spent selling advertising for a campus publication convinced Whitman to study economics. Her interest in business became so keen that she had the Wall Street Journal delivered daily to her dorm room. After graduating from Princeton in 1977, Whitman earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1979.

EARLY SUCCESSES

Whitman's employment history consisted of short but productive stints with many of the nation's top companies. Her first job was with the Proctor & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, where she worked as a brand assistant. By 1981, she had been promoted to brand manager. During her time with the company Whitman learned a great deal about marketing and brands. While with Proctor & Gamble, Whitman met and married Griffith R. Harsh IV, a neurosurgeon. In 1981, when Harsh took a residency position at the University of California at San Francisco, Whitman moved with him. She then took a position as vice president with the consulting firm of Bain & Company, where she worked for the next eight years.

In 1989 Whitman moved to the Walt Disney Corporation, where she served as a senior vice president of marketing at Disney's consumer-products division. During her tenure with Disney, Whitman was instrumental in helping the company move into publishing with the acquisition of Discover magazine. She also launched the first Disney store in Japan. Working for Disney enabled Whitman to understand how to run a business, knowledge that proved invaluable later on. In 1992 Whitman's husband accepted a position as codirector of the Brain Tumor Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The family moved back east. Whitman accepted a position with Stride Rite, a children's shoe manufacturer, where she helped to revitalize the famous but moribund Keds line of sneakers.

Four years later, Whitman left the company to become CEO of Florists' Transworld Delivery (FTD), one of the world's largest floral-delivery companies in the world. The company was in the midst of severe fiscal crisis and fighting competition from new Internet florist services such as 1-800-Flowers and Florists.com. Whitman oversaw FTD's conversion from a money-losing, florist-owned cooperative to a profitable company, but not without encountering serious problems along the way. Continual infighting among her subordinates and employees and severe criticism from private florists about transforming the company from a cooperative to a privately held enterprise left Whitman feeling stifled, even as she brought the company back from the brink of financial ruin. In 1997 Whitman resigned, taking a position as general manager with Hasbro, one of the leading toy manufacturers in the United States. She headed the Playskool division, which marketed toys for toddlers and preschoolers. A year later a corporate headhunter approached Whitman about taking a job with an Internet start-up company located in Silicon Valley.

TAKING ON eBAY

The fledgling company that approached Whitman was eBay, an online auction site. Begun in 1995, eBay was the brainchild of Pierre Omidyar, a computer programmer from San Jose, California. Omidyar launched the site as a means for his girlfriend, who collected Pez candy dispensers, to contact other collectors to buy, sell, and trade. The premise was simple: for a $3 fee paid to eBay, then called Auction Web, a seller could list an item for auction. Potential buyers could then bid on the item, with the highest bidder winning the auction. Omidyar's idea proved so successful that soon people were listing items other than Pez dispensers. The site also fostered a strong sense of community among those who participated. To prevent scams and fraud, Omidyar instituted message boards where buyers and sellers could rate each other. By 1997 the site was attracting more shoppers than any other site on the Web. The company began charging a 6 percent commission on all items listed and by 1998 had grown to 20 employees.

The company became too big for Omidyar to handle by himself, and so he sold a portion of it to the capital investment firm Benchmark Capital. Benchmark began looking for someone to supervise daily operations and direct the company's growth. According to Robert Kagle, one of Benchmark's partners and one of eBay's largest investors, it was essential to find someone who understood the technology, but more important was a person who understood the "emotional component of the customer experience in your gut" (New York Times, May 10, 1999). Kagle also wanted someone who would transform eBay into a brand name. And so it was that the headhunter approached Whitman.

At first, Whitman refused even to consider the offer. She was overseeing six hundred employees at Hasbro, and she enjoyed her job. She also saw no reason to move her family to the West Coast. As she later stated in an interview, the idea of working for a "no-name Internet company" simply held no appeal for her (Salon.com, November 27, 2001). Kagle and the headhunter persisted, however, and finally Whitman agreed to meet with Omidyar at the eBay offices in San Jose. While there, Whitman took in the day-to-day operations of the company, even sneaking out of business meetings to monitor the online auctions. She also listened to eBay users, known as eBayers, who were enthusiastic about the company. It occurred to Whitman that eBay had tremendous potential. Already aware of the growing popularity of shopping on the Internet, Whitman agreed to consider the job offer. In March 1998, she joined eBay.

REMAKING A COMPANY

One of Whitman's first tasks was to make the eBay site more professional and more profitable. Omidyar also had made clear to her his desire to take the company public. But before Ebay could issue stock, Whitman advised that the company undergo substantial structural changes. Whitman walked a fine line between making the site more attractive to businesses without alienating those individual buyers who had helped the site to become a success. Until Whitman took over as CEO, the company had relied more on word-of-mouth advertising. She launched a national advertising campaign and created an anthropomorphic apple as the official eBay mascot. Whitman's ability to make quick decisions soon had eBay on the fast track.

One of her first personnel moves was to hire Brian Swette, head of marketing at Pepsi, to take charge of eBay's marketing division. She redid the Web-site graphics, making the designs brighter and separating firearm and pornography offerings into age-restricted areas. (eBay has since discontinued the sale of firearms along with alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and human organs.) In 1999 Whitman negotiated the purchase of Butterfield & Butterfield, a 134-year-old auction house in San Francisco that ranked a distant third behind more notable houses Sotheby's and Christies. With the purchase of Butterfield & Butterfield, eBay moved into the business of auctioning fine art and expensive collectibles. Still, Whitman's changes threatened to alienate smaller buyers and sellers who had played such an important role in building eBay.

While trying to court the small buyers and sellers, Whitman also pushed to expand the company's boundaries. She persuaded stores to sell on eBay, and began to offer specialty items under the eBay umbrella, a strategy she had developed at FTD. On September 24, 1998, eBay went public, with the initial public offering selling at $18 a share. By day's end, eBay stock closed at $47, an increase of 163 percent. Whitman was a millionaire. The initial public offering also thrust her into the limelight as the CEO of one the fastest-growing Internet companies in the world.

Thanks to Whitman's advertising and marketing strategies, the eBay customer base increased from 750,000 members to more than seven million by 1999. Whitman continued to tinker with the eBay formula. That year she instituted additional measures to protect eBay customers from fraudulent buyers and sellers by offering free insurance through Lloyd's of London. Any purchase up to $200 was guaranteed to the customer. Whitman also pledged to help law-enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute individuals, whether buyers or sellers, who attempted to defraud customers or the company. In addition, for a small fee, eBay offered a stamp of approval for sellers from Equifax, one of the nation's largest credit bureaus. Whitman thus took steps to improve eBay's overall reliability. Periodically plagued by technical problems that caused the site to be down for extended periods of time, Whitman hired Sun Microsystems to maintain the network, while improving the company's own technical support staff.

FENDING OFF THE COMPETITION

Among Whitman's greatest challenges was fighting off the competition from other Internet auction sites. Seeing the success of eBay, several popular Internet providers and commerce sites, such as America Online, amazon.com, and Yahoo, could have copied Whitman's formula and started their own online auctions, threatening to crush eBay during Whitman's early tenure. To prevent that from happening, Whitman extended the company's relationship with AOL, which, in turn, made eBay AOL's exclusive auction provider. The move was critical because it forestalled AOL from starting its own auction site and allowed Whitman to continue building the company. However, in 1998, Yahoo did begin offering free auctions in an attempt to lure customers away from eBay. Despite the challenge, Whitman held firm to maintaining eBay's fees for listing, which often discouraged sellers from offering less than desirable merchandise and thus provided a quality control that the Yahoo auctions could not match. Soon, megacommerce site amazon.com also jumped into the online-auction game, but by this time eBay had entrenched itself as the leading on-line-auction site. Still, there was something to be learned from Amazon and its abilities to handle large numbers of credit-card transactions. Whitman decided to buy Billpoint, an online system that allowed payments by e-mail, offering another enticement for prospective eBay buyers and sellers.

To help eBay move into other markets, Whitman also negotiated the purchase of Kruse International, a collectible car house, and Alando de AG, the largest online-auction house in Europe. By the end of the third quarter 1999, eBay reported sales of more than $741 million, up from just $195 million the year before. The company had also virtually cornered the online-auction business, accounting for 90 percent of all on-line-auction sales. Even though its earnings fell short of projections, the company managed to accomplish what many other high-profile Internet companies such as amazon.com could not: eBay made a profit.

REVOLUTIONIZING THE MARKETPLACE

Whitman credited much of eBay's success to its basic business model, which combined the elements of yard sales, newspaper classified ads, and auctions. This approach appealed to a wide spectrum of customers, from those who list yard-sale finds to large companies such as movie studios that auction off memorabilia to dealers who specialize in items from books to electronics and office equipment to collectibles and antiques. Whitman perfected the model: the company's role was simply to bring buyers and sellers together and to facilitate commerce. eBay carries no inventory nor does it ship items. The success of the site rests solely with its users. Though by auction-house standards the fees that eBay charges are low, often amounting to as little as 6 percent on each sale, almost all the monies generated are pure profit. As Whitman has pointed out, the eBay model works perfectly for Internet commerce geared as it is to high volume and low overhead. Although the business model has proven to be a gold mine, many analysts are quick to point out that eBay would likely not have succeeded had it not been for Whitman's efforts and expertise.

By listening to customers and responding to their needs, Whitman could tailor the site to meet the expectations of both buyers and sellers while ensuring a healthy profit for the company. During Whitman's first two years at the company, for example, the site was often plagued by power outages, sometimes lasting a day because the high volume of traffic overwhelmed the technology. Whitman's staff, and even Whitman herself, responded to customer queries and complaints by emailing or calling them directly and by refunding millions of dollars in fees. In creating the eBay brand name, Whitman built a fanatically loyal customer base, one that keeps growing by referrals from satisfied customers. This fidelity is crucial to the company's continued success, a reality that Whitman took so seriously that she had an expensive customer-service system created to respond to customer emails within 24 hours. eBay workshops, offered online and in person, provide information and help on how to make the most of the site. Message boards and calendars listed on the site itself offer an opportunity for buyers and sellers to connect. The company also helped charitable organizations with auctions to raise funds for various causes.

In creating this radically new approach to commerce, Whitman managed to expand eBay's base of operations without destroying the strong sense of community that the company fostered. But in steering the company to its phenomenal success, Whitman occasionally stumbled. When she cut back opportunities for users to post complaints on the site, many customers were enraged. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Whitman organized a charity auction that critics called self-serving. The company also come under fire for allowing certain items, such as Nazi memorabilia, to be listed for sale, a policy that angered many in the Jewish community. However, Whitman pointed out that the primary purpose of eBay was to offer a forum where anyone could sell just about anything that was not prohibited by law, even though some listings might be offensive to certain individuals or groups.

KEEPING CLOSE WATCH

Through the company's highs and lows, Whitman remained a steadying presence. Her colleagues found her hard working, dedicated, consistently upbeat, and relentlessly optimistic. She met problems head on and sought realistic solutions. At company headquarters in San Jose, she kept in close contact with employees, using a cubicle as an office and, on occasion, fielding phone calls and emails from customers. She avoided authoritarian management practices and never assumed that she knew everything. Indeed, one of Whitman's greatest strengths as a CEO was that she remained open to advice, criticism, and opportunity. As customers began to gravitate toward the fixed-price sales at Half.com as opposed to the more fluid auctions, for example, Whitman offered fixed-price sales on eBay through the option to "buy it now." She spent hours on the road promoting the company and talking to people. An ardent supporter of eBay and its philosophy, Whitman in one interview revealed that she was an avid customer, admitting that she had bought Beanie Babies, Pokemon cards, and even a car through eBay.

Whitman was ambitious as well. She guarded the company's reputation even as she sought continually to broaden eBay's reach in an effort to make the company a truly global enterprise. In 2001 Whitman acquired iBazar, an online-auction company with sites in eight European countries, and she also made inroads in New Zealand, South Korea, and other countries. In 2003 Whitman opened negotiations with EachNet in a bid to lure Chinese customers to eBay. Whitman's ability and willingness to listen to customers and employees led her to make decisions that industry analysts believe were critical to eBay's continued success. Whitman took the advice of customers when, in 2003, she acquired PayPal, an online checking and banking site, for $1.5 billion. At the same time, Whitman added new site categories and cleared the way for corporate purchasing departments to set up eBay accounts. eBay entered into an agreement with GE Business Credit Services that will provide financing to help small businesses deal with unexpected expenses and replace high-interest loans or retire credit-card debt. For Whitman, the Internet and e-commerce was the wave to the future, and she continued to work to ensure that eBay would serve its customers and remain a major force in the global marketplace.

See also entries on Bain & Company, eBay, Inc., Florists' Transworld Delivery, Inc., Hasbro, Inc., Proctor & Gamble Company, and Walt Disney Company in International Directory of Company Histories.

sources for further information

"CBS MarketWatch Names eBay's Meg Whitman as its First CEO of the Year," Business Wire, September 18, 2003, p. 56.

"Company Overview," eBay web site, June 10, 2004, http://pages.ebay.com/community/aboutebay/overview/management.html.

Fox, Loren, "Meg Whitman," Salon.com, November 27, 2001, http://dir.salon.com/people/bc/2001/11/27/whitman/index.html (June 9, 2004).

Hansell, Saul, "Meg Whitman and eBay, Net Survivors," New York Times, May 5, 2002.

Holson, Laura, "Defining the On-Line Chief; Ebay's Meg Whitman Explores Management, Web Style," The New York Times, May 10, 1999.

Ratigan, Dylan, and Becky Quick, "eBay: Pres. & CEO Interview," America's Intelligence Wire, April 21, 2004.

Taylor, Chris, "Meg Whitman: Host of eBay's Passionate Party," Time, April 26, 2004, p. 74.

Taylor, Neil, "EBay Bullish on Asian Growth: The Online Auction Company is Taking a Long-Term View of China Opportunities," Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, April 20, 2004.

Meg Greene

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Greene, Meg. "Whitman, Meg 1956–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Greene, Meg. "Whitman, Meg 1956–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (August 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3448500612.html

Greene, Meg. "Whitman, Meg 1956–." International Directory of Business Biographies. 2005. Retrieved August 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3448500612.html

Whitman, Meg

Whitman, Meg

1957 Cold Spring Harbor, New York

Chief executive officer

Meg Whitman is the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of eBay, Inc., the online auction site that became one of the World Wide Web's most surprising success stories. She took over the position from its founder, Pierre Omidyar, who remains active in the company, and has guided it into a commercial enterprise on a par with Amazon.com. Unlike other online sites, however, eBay enjoys impressive profits, thanks to its "virtual" presence. In essence, there is no warehouse, no sales staff, just a brand name and a collection of servers that connect buyers and sellers. In her posistion at eBay, Whitman is the first woman to become a billionaire thanks to stock holdings in an Internet company, and she freely admits that she learns as she goes. "Every week, there is a different set of issues, a different challenge, something new to think about," she told Business Week writer Robert D. Hof. "Probably at least a couple times a week, I go, 'Huh! I didn't know that.'"

Abandoned medical school dreams

Margaret "Meg" Whitman was born in 1957, the youngest of three children. She came from a well-to-do clan with ties to some of Boston's oldest families, and grew up in Cold Spring Harbor, a posh waterfront community in Long Island, New York. Her father, Hendricks, had his own loan business. Her mother, also named Margaret, was a homemaker, but when Whitman was in her teens her mother traveled to China as part of a women's delegation that had been invited for a visit. This was in the early 1970s, and the Asian nation had been closed to foreigners for many years until that point. Though Whitman was still in high school, her mother's achievement was an important part of her life. "When my mother came home after this great adventure," Whitman recalled in an interview with Christian Science Monitor journalist Patrick Dillon, "she told me what this experience taught her. She realized she could do anything she wanted and she wanted me to recognize that I could do the same."

"We're a different company every three months. I ask myself from top to bottom, do we have the right people in the right place at the right time ...? I even ask myself if I'm the right person for the right time."

Whitman was a talented athlete in high school, serving as captain of her swim team. She also played field hockey, lacrosse, and basketball. She entered Princeton University in 1973, just a few years after it began admitting undergraduate women for the first time. Planning on becoming a doctor, like many academic successes in high school she was tripped up by her organic chemistry class, among other courses. "I took calculus, chemistry, and physics my first year," she explained to Fast Company writer Charles Fishman. "I survived. But I didn't enjoy it. Of course, chemistry, calculus, and physics have nothing to do with being a doctor, but if you're 17 years old, you think, This is what being a doctor is going to be about."

Whitman found her niche at college when she took an advertising sales job for a student magazine. She switched her major to economics, and after graduating from Princeton in 1977 went on to another Ivy League school, Harvard, where she earned a master's degree in business administration. In 1979 she was hired at Procter & Gamble, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based household and personal care products maker. One of her colleagues in the brand management department was Steve Case (1958), who later founded America Online (AOL).

Most Unusual eBay Sales

August 1999: Auction for human kidney reached a bid of $5.7 million before eBay removed it for violating sales policy.

2001: Gulfstream II jet sold for $4.9 million, thought to have been the most expensive item ever sold on the site.

June 2003: "Ghost in Jar" from Arkansas; winning bid: $50,922.

April 2004: Seattle man sells ex-wife's wedding dress after posting pictures of himself wearing it; winning bid: $ 3,850.

Other unusual auctions: lump of coal; piece of navel lint; a Lincoln Continental sedan once owned by President John F. Kennedy; boyhood home of former U.S. president Bill Clinton in Hope, Arkansas.

Married a doctor instead

While at Procter & Gamble, Whitman worked on the Noxzema skin care products team, but did not stay long at the company. She had married a Harvard medical student, Griffith Harsh IV, and because of his residency in neurosurgery, the couple had to relocate to San Francisco. There, Whitman found a job with Bain and Company, a global management consulting firm. She also became a mother during the 1980s, and her next job was a child's dream: that of senior vice president for marketing consumer products for Disney. She helped launch the company's new theme stores outside the United States, but began looking for a job in New England when her husband was offered the post of chief of neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Fortunately, a shoe maker called Stride Rite in Lexington, Massachusetts, was looking for a new president.

During her time at Stride Rite, Whitman oversaw the revival of its vintage Keds sneaker line. Her next job was with Florists Transworld Delivery (FTD), a cooperative of florists, as president and chief executive officer, but she stayed only a year before going over to Hasbro, the toy maker. Not surprisingly, it was a decision that thrilled her young sons. Whitman ran Hasbro's preschool toys division, and successfully re-launched another vintage product, Mr. Potato Head.

In the fall of 1997 Whitman was contacted by a headhunting firm, which conducts searches for executives and other key corporate personnel. An online auction company was looking for a new leader to help launch it in earnest, but she had never heard of AuctionWeb, as eBay was still known. But Whitman agreed to fly to California for an interview. Before she left, she did some computer research on the company, when AuctionWeb was still a collection of classified ads. "I remember sitting at my computer saying, I can't believe I'm about to fly across the country to look at a black-and-white auction classified site," she recalled to Fishman.

Took risk at new company

EBay was still a relatively young company. It was started in 1995 in San Jose, California, by Omidyar, a computer programmer. He created the site and its software as a way to help his girlfriend sell items from her collection of kitschy Pez dispensers. The buy-and-sell by auction concept, in which the highest bidder wins, took off, and Omidyar's site turned a profit six months after it was launched. Its premise was simple: seller posts an item for sale and accepts auction bids over a two-week time frame. The highest bidder wins, and the buyer and seller exchange address information for payment and shipping. EBay charged a thirty-five-cent listing fee, and also took a small percentage of the sale transaction.

One of eBay's most important features was a rating system by which buyers and sellers rated their transactions with one another. Negative commentsabout buyers who had not paid or sellers who had not shippedwould make others wary about doing business with either. Omidyar was convinced that listening and responding to the site's user base was crucial to his company's success. The online rating system itself had been suggested by eBay aficionados, for example. But he was having a difficult time expanding the company and maintaining his ethical outlook, and decided that a professional executive might do a better job in expanding eBay, as it had been renamed. Omidyar and the others in charge liked Whitman's customer service experience and brand management talents. She, in turn, liked eBay's sense of community spirit.

Whitman talked to her family, and they agreed to move. She started the job at eBay in February of 1998. The company had just nineteen employees at the time, and some were still using card tables as desks. Whitman delved in, taking a cubicle office like everyone else and even heading into fearsome high-tech territory. In June of 1999, with the company's site becoming more popular on a daily basis, its servers crashed for twenty-two hours. They had gone down before, but engineers had been able to find the problem quickly and fix it. This time was different. Whitman showed up at 4 a.m. and, as she told Atoosa Rubenstein in a CosmoGirl! interview, "moved in with the engineers for three months and effectively ran the technology division. I didn't know very much about technology, and it was a bit like being in Franceeveryone is speaking French, and I don't!"

An eBay "power seller" herself

Whitman also oversaw eBay's initial public offering (IPO) of stock in September of 1998, and over the next five years helped eBay become one of the most unusual success stories in American business history. It grew faster than Microsoft, Dell, Amazon, or Wal-Mart, and proved so successful for its sellers that many began quitting their day jobs in order to concentrate full-time on their online auctions. Heavy eBay pros were taking in $100,000 a year in sales, and some part-timers were helping to put their children through college with the extra income. EBay was said to have boosted the fortunes of an immense number of small specialty stores like antique shops and t-shirt makers, simply by giving their Web-savvy owners a whole new nationwide customer base.

Whitman instituted a policy at eBay that required its top executives to post items for auction regularly, so they would know firsthand what worked and what did not. She even sold the contents of her family's Telluride, Colorado, ski lodge. She also checked in regularly with the site's message boards to see what users were discussing. "The great thing about running this company," she told Brad Stone in Newsweek, "is that you know immediately what your customers think."

Under Whitman, eBay began holding annual member conferences for its top auctioneers. She is usually greeted like a rock star when she takes the stage, with the audience chanting her name. Honors have come from other sources, too: in 2002, Fortune magazine named her one of the three most powerful women in business. By then, eBay had over thirty million registered users, and took in $1.1 billion that year on a sales total that reached $15 billion in completed auctions. A year later that figure had risen to $24 billion in goods and services, and revenues had doubled to $2.17 billion. At any given time on eBay, about twenty million items are up for sale. Ten million bids are submitted by users every twenty-four hours, with $900 worth of goods and services exchanging hands every second.

Gave back to alma mater

Whitman has an annual salary of $2.19 million, but thanks to her ownership of eBay stock she is thought to be the first female billionaire created in the Internet age. She has donated some of her fortune to Princeton University, where she sits on the school's board of trustees. In early 2002 she and her husband donated $30 million to help the New Jersey school build a new residential college for undergraduates. Whitman College would be Princeton's sixth residential college, and would house about five hundred students. The added space would increase enrollment at Princeton from 4,600 to 5,100 when its first classes begin entering in 2010. "I had a great time as a Princeton undergraduate," a report in Ascribe Higher Education News Service quoted Whitman as saying, about her reasons behind the gift. "The University inspired me to think in ways that have guided me throughout my life."

Whitman works hard to balance her family life with a job she loves. She works out in the morning, and is usually able to drive her two sons to school. Vacations are often spent skiing or fly-fishing. When she travels for business, she rarely flies on the company plane. Thanks to the numerous business magazine covers that have featured her, fellow fliers recognize her and tell her their eBay stories. "I have one of the best jobs in Corporate America," she enthused to Hof. "It's this unique blend of commerce and community. The community of users is endlessly interesting and endlessly surprising. That's what I love the most."

For More Information

Periodicals

Bannan, Karen. "Sole Survivor." Sales & Marketing Management (July 2001): p. 36.

Dillon, Patrick. "Peerless Leader." Christian Science Monitor (March 10, 2004): p. 11.

Fishman, Charles. "Meg Whitman." Fast Company (May 2001): p. 72.

Hof, Robert D. "'The Constant Challenge' at eBay.' Business Week (June 30, 2004). This article can also be found online at http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jun2004/tc20040630_3302_tc121.htm.

Hof, Rob. "Meet EBay's Auctioneer-in-Chief." Business Week (June 12, 2003). This articles can also be found online at http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2003/tc20030529_8665.htm.

Horsburgh, Susan. "EBay's eBoss." People (August 4, 2003): p. 97.

"Meg Muscles EBay Uptown." Fortune (July 5, 1999): p. 81.

"Meg Whitman to Support New Residential College at Princeton." Ascribe Higher Education News Service (February 4, 2002).

Stone, Brad. "Meg Gets on the Line." Newsweek (June 17, 2002): p. 56.

Rubenstein, Atoosa. "Team Player." CosmoGirl! (April 2003): p. 108.

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"Whitman, Meg." UXL Newsmakers. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Aug. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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