BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 ISSUE
COVER STORY -- E.BIZ -- THE E.BIZ 25

Margaret C. Whitman


MARGARET C. WHITMAN

EBAY INC.

Position: President and CEO

Contribution: She put eBay--and Web auctions--on the map by piloting eBay's successful IPO last September. It has racked up a whopping 5.6 million users.

Ambition: To make eBay an international phenom where all sorts of things are auctioned--including big-ticket items such as collectible autos.

EBay Inc. (EBAY) founder Pierre Omidyar was the genius who thought of putting auctions online. But it took the management savvy of CEO Margaret C. Whitman to turn his quirky idea into an Internet giant capable of handling millions of buyers and sellers--not to mention ferocious competition from the likes of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) In just 16 months, eBay has grown from 750,000 customers to 5.6 million. More than that, Whitman has helped legitimize the notion of negotiated pricing--making it one of the most powerful economic forces on the Internet. The concept is being applied by others to every kind of selling, from airplane tickets to industrial gear.

Now, Whitman is busy adding big-ticket items such as antique cars to eBay's more traditional fare of Beanie Babies and bric-a-brac. She just launched international auctions in Britain and Germany--and expects to enter five other countries by early next year. Next, she plans on setting up regional auctions in 50 U.S. metropolitan areas so people can sell large items that can't easily be mailed.

Through it all, Whitman vows to never lose site of the fans that made eBay a monster hit. ''One of the things I'm most focused on is managing something that's growing from a small town to a larger community,'' says Whitman. One initiative: Voice of the Customer Day. Each month, eBay brings 10 to 20 customers into its offices, some of whom spend 5 to 10 hours a day on eBay. New employees meet them. And so does Whitman. Now if she can just get the masses to be such eBay fanatics, the company could start to look like eWorld.

By Heather Green

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[empire builders]
Jeffrey P. Bezos
AMAZON.COM INC.

Stephen M. Case
AMERICA ONLINE INC.

Timothy A. Koogle
YAHOO! INC.

[the innovators]
Louis H. Borders
WEBVAN GROUP INC.

Jay S. Walker
PRICELINE.COM

Margaret C. Whitman
EBAY INC.

Glen Meakem
FREE MARKETS ONLINE INC.

James H. Clark
MYCFO INC.

Christos M. Cotsakos
E*TRADE GROUP INC.

[bankrollers]
Masayoshi Son
SOFTBANK CORP., JAPAN

Robert C. Kagle
BENCHMARK CAPITAL

Lawton W. Fitt
GOLDMAN SACHS & CO.

L. John Doerr
KLEINER PERKINS CAUFIELD & BYERS  

Bernard Arnault
LVMH MOET HENNESSY
LOUIS VUITTON  

[the visionaries]
Mary G. Meeker
MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER

John Hagel III
MCKINSEY & CO.

William Joy
SUN MICROSYSTEMS

[the architects]
Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
IBM CORP.

Pehong Chen
BROADVISION INC.

David C. Peterschmidt
INKTOMI INC.

Kevin J. O'Connor
DOUBLECLICK

Ellen M. Hancock
EXODUS COMMUNICATIONS

[the pace setters]
David S. Pottruck
CHARLES SCHWAB CORP.

John T. Chambers
CISCO SYSTEMS

Michael S. Dell
DELL COMPUTER



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