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Behind the `eBay Legend` Lies Heroine Whitman

Posted January. 19, 2002 12:00,   


U.S. Internet auction company eBay is marching triumphantly.

While many dot-com companies went bankrupt and Internet leaders like Yahoo and Amazon faced troubles, eBay was rapidly growing, increasing its earnings by 74 percent and net profit by 50 percent. eBay`s present stock price is around 66 dollars, leaving Amazon (9 dollars) and Yahoo (20 dollars) far behind. The market value of eBay, which is reaching 18.4 billion dollars (about 23 trillion and 920 billion won), is higher than the total market value of the large distribution companies like Kmart and Sears.

U.S. business magazine Fortune gave a big write up in its latest volume on the managing skills of Meg Whitman, owner and CEO of eBay, which continues to grow even after the Internet bubble burst. Whitman is ranked No.2, next to Carla S. Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard, among 25 influential female CEOs whom the magazine selected. Business circles anticipate that Whitman will be the No.1 female businessperson next year over Fiorina, who is being forced to resign due to the recent deadlock in the merger negotiation with Compaq.

eBay is a radical `profit-yielding` company different from most Internet companies that concentrate on extending business items and insisting on creativity and the spirit of challenge. Rather than creative ideas, what is more frequently discussed in the eBay operation meetings is the scrupulous statistics about that how many visitors clicked in, which merchandise won popularity, what was the bid price in auction, or what program goods sold well.

CEO Whitman formerly held careers in off line companies for 20 years before she was employed by eBay at the age of 41 in 1998 after she graduated from the MBA program at Harvard Business School in 1979.

Presently, eBay deals with merchandise from about 30 companies like IBM and Sears along with Mitsubishi. One year after it launched its business selling various merchandises from cars to clothes, the earnings from the business made up half the total earnings.

eBay sold out for 750 million dollars last year, and plans to increase the sale to 3 billion dollars within 4 years. Fortune analyzed that the sale prospect is not a dream, considering Whitman`s management ability.

Mi-Kyung Jung mickey@donga.com