EBay CEO Devin Wenig, at odds with the board, steps down
EBay Inc. Chief Executive Devin Wenig is stepping down as activist investors seek to break the company apart.
Scott Schenkel, EBay’s chief financial officer, was appointed as interim CEO, the company announced Wednesday. The company said it will seek a permanent CEO and consider internal and external candidates.
EBay shares slipped 0.8% to close at $39.24 a share.
Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp., which owns a 4% stake in EBay, demanded in January that the company make “urgently needed” changes, including selling assets — such as ticket-selling site StubHub and the Classifieds Group — and buying back shares. In March, EBay reached an agreement with Elliott and another activist investor, Starboard Value, to appoint two new directors and undertake a strategic review of its portfolio assets. EBay said Wednesday that it would provide an update this fall on the ongoing review, which is being conducted with the assistance of Goldman Sachs & Co.
Wenig was fired after he failed to grow EBay’s marketplace platform and clashed with the board about not wanting to sell the classifieds business, according to people familiar with the matter.
“In the past few weeks it became clear that I was not on the same page as my new board,” Wenig said in a tweet. “Whenever that happens, it’s best for everyone to turn that page over.”
Wenig, 52, took over EBay after its split with PayPal in 2015 and made bold promises of returning the online marketplace to prominence. To compete against Amazon.com Inc., Wenig tried to freshen EBay’s image with younger shoppers, made the site easier to navigate and harnessed artificial intelligence to give EBay merchants real-time insights about what shoppers want and how much they’re willing to pay. But the results have been slow to appear, and EBay has continued to watch Amazon grow at a much faster pace and gobble up more market share and customers.
EBay’s financial reports have also shown paltry growth this year, with revenue increases of only 2% in the first two quarters, and analysts expect no increase in the third quarter and a decline of 1% in the fourth, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Gross merchandise volume — the value of all goods sold on EBay properties — fell 4.4% to $22.6 billion in the second quarter from a year earlier.
EBay reaffirmed Wednesday its full-year guidance for 2019 of revenue growth of 2% to 3%, adjusted earnings per share of $2.70 to $2.75 and net earnings per share of $1.97 to $2.07.
Wenig had tried to differentiate EBay from Amazon by emphasizing that EBay doesn’t compete with sellers by selling its own similar products, and he downplayed the importance of fast shipping, saying EBay isn’t the place for shoppers who want paper towels in an hour. Instead, Wenig highlighted EBay’s inventory of unique items.
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