eBay CEO Not Tempted by Disney Job

eBay CEO Meg Whitman isn’t interested in filling the top
spot at Walt Disney Co. when Michael Eisner
retires in
2006, a spokesman for the auction giant told internetnews.com.

“Meg has repeatedly said she has the best job in the world; she loves eBay,”
Hani Durzy, an eBay spokesman, said. “She has no plans to leave.”

Durzy declined to say if Whitman was contacted by directors at the media and
entertainment conglomerate.

Whitman is reportedly among a number of high-profile execs cited as a
possible replacement for Eisner, according to a story published today in
The Wall Street Journal. Part of Whitman’s appeal to Disney
decision-makers is her knowledge of the company’s culture and structure.

She worked there from 1989 to 1992. As senior vice president of marketing
for the company’s consumer products division, she led the company’s move
into book publishing. She also oversaw the acquisition of Discover Magazine,
according to her bio on eBay’s Web site.

Whitman joined the auction giant in 1998, and it has prospered under her
leadership, pushing into new product areas and geographic markets.

Just this week the company said it would pay $41
million to buy the remaining shares in Korea’s Internet Auction that it
does not already own.

Last month, it spent $50 million for India’s Bazee.com and bought a minority
stake in Craigslist, the popular online trading site that lets users find
anything from jobs to event tickets to dates.

And before that, eBay closed a buyout deal for German auto classifieds site
mobile.de for $149 million, and shelled out a total of $180 million to
gobble up China e-commerce play EachNet.

Eisner’s departure n 2006 will cap a 20-year career with Disney. Earlier this year,
he led the charge against Comcast’s hostile takeover.
Already under pressure for the company’s unspectacular financial
performance, Eisner was criticized by some insiders and investors for
rebuffing the cable and broadband giant’s $46 billion bid.

Eisner was intrigued by the prospect of Disney’s entertainment content flowing
over Comcast’s networks, but thought the offer was too low. Comcast
stepped away and the companies signed a more modest distribution deal this
summer.

But neither the Comcast fallout, nor complaints about his overall
management, prompted his decision to retire, the 62-year-old said in an
interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Eisner said the company was regaining its footing and he wanted to give the
board of directors enough time to make an orderly transition. His planned
departure date coincides with the expiration of his current contract.

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Eisner supported
Disney president Robert Iger to be his successor. But a number of names are
being floated from several industries, including media, retail and
technology.

Besides Whitman, another IT name thought to be on the lists of some Disney
directors is Steve Jobs, who heads Apple Computer and
Pixar Animation Studios , The Wall Street Journal
reported. However, with his current responsibilities, Jobs “may fall into
the category of wishful thinking,” the newspaper concluded.

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