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eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar steps back from board to become Director Emeritus

By Chris Dawson September 14, 2020 - 9:00 am

AuctionWeb LogoIn 1995 a young Pierre Omidyar sat down to begin writing the code for the site we know as eBay today. However it wasn’t eBay back then and when launched on the US public holiday known as Labour Day on the 4th of September 1995 it was called AuctionWeb and just one of the projects Pierre hosted on his website.

Pierre didn’t even want to call his site eBay, Echo Bay was his first choice but someone had already nabbed that name, so alongside his other projects (including one on the Ebola virus) the auction site went live.

Original eBay logoAuctionWeb soon exploded and took over as the main project and so eventually become named eBay and the rest was history, although at that time the eBay logo was just blue and hadn’t got the makeover into the four colour logo that the world came to love.

An interesting side note…. it wasn’t until February 1996 that feedback was launched on eBay – interestingly at the time it was introduced you could leave feedback for anyone with a transaction taking place and it was only later it become limited to between buyers and sellers that had completed a sale. Even Pierre himself received feedback (both praise and criticism) for how he ran eBay on his own account.

Back in the day, Pierre in his feedback founders note said “By creating an open market that encourages honest dealings, I hope to make it easier to conduct business with strangers over the net”. Looking back at that initial goal, he most definitely achieved this!

Pierre Omidyar eBay Founder & Director Emeritus

Fast forward two and a half decades, eBay has just celebrated it’s 25th Birthday and, at the age of 53, Pierre will step back from his eBay board responsibilities, and transition to the role of Director Emeritus.

A quarter of a century is a long time to work at any one company and, just has he had an interest in the Ebola virus all those years ago, today Pierre devotes much of his time to philanthropy through his Omidyar Network. The organisation invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyse economic, social, and political change.

“For 25 years, I’ve watched with pride as the company I created enabled economic opportunity for people around the world. With sound strategy and leadership in place, I can transition to the role of Director Emeritus with confidence.”
– Pierre Omidyar, Founder of eBay

Other eBay Board Changes

It has also been announced that Carol Hayles and Mohak Shroff will join the eBay Board of Directors.

Carol Hayles

Carol Hayles brings deep operating and financial expertise to eBay. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Webster Financial Corporation, where she is Chair of the Audit Committee, and on the Board of Directors of Blucora, Inc., where she is Chair of the Compensation Committee. Carol was previously the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of CIT Group, Inc. Prior to CIT Group, Carol held several management positions during her 24-year tenure at Citigroup, most recently as Deputy Controller.

Mohak Shroff

Mohak Shroff currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Engineering at LinkedIn Corporation, where he leads engineering, operations, IT and security. Mohak brings significant technology leadership to the Board of Directors including building out LinkedIn’s advertising platform, Subscription and Jobs products as well as scaling the company’s payment system. He has previously served in other engineering management positions during his 12-year tenure at LinkedIn and prior to that, as the Principal Software Engineer at Ariba, Inc.

Goodbye activist investors

At the same time it’s time to say goodbye to the various activist investors who have plagued eBay over the past few years leading to the sale of StubHub and eBay Classifieds. Jesse Cohn will step down from the Board of Directors with immediate effect – he is also a partner at Elliott Management, the investment company who along with Starboard demanded eBay liquidate assets to create investor value. Starboard did nominate two people to potentially be elected to the eBay board but pulled their nomination after the installation of Jamie Iannone as the new CEO. Starboard have since sold of the majority of the shares they purchased in eBay.

With shares sold and board nominations and members from activist investors gone, hopefully a period of stability for eBay begins as they chart a new course under the leadership of Jamie Iannone and direction from the reconfigured eBay board.

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