was the President and Chief Executive
Officer of eBay, the world's largest and
most well known online auction site. She
left the company in 2008 to pursue her
interest in politics.
Whitman was born on August 4, 1956 in
Cold Spring Harbor, New York where she
grew up as the youngest of three children.
Her father, a businessman, was often away
from home, leaving Meg and her siblings
to her mother's care.
graduating from Cold Spring Harbor High
School, Whitman attended Princeton University
with the intention of studying medicine
to become a doctor. After taking many
of the biology and chemistry courses necessary
as a premed student, Whitman decided to
change her career goals and she settled
on economics. Whitman became passionate
about studying business and even had the
Wall Street Journal delivered to her dorm
graduated from Princeton in 1977 and attended
Harvard Business School in order to earn
her MBA. She received her master's degree
in 1979 and immediately went to work for
Proctor & Gamble as a brand assistant.
Within two years the company promoted
her to brand manager, a position through
which Whitman learned a lot about marketing
and branding of company and products,
something that would come into play later
when she helped build eBay.
her time at Proctor & Gamble, Whitman
met and married Griffith R. Harsh IV,
a neurosurgeon and moved to San Francisco
with him in 1981 when he took a residency
position at the University of California
at San Francisco. As a result of this
move, Whitman needed to change jobs. Soon
after settling in California, Whitman
became vice president of the consulting
firm Bain & Company, where she ended
up working for eight years.
1989 Whitman changed jobs again, this
time moving to the Walt Disney Corporation
to become senior vice president of marketing
for the consumer-products division. She
would later credit her experience at Disney
with teaching her a lot about running
a large business.
1992, only a few years after she started
working with Disney, Whitman once again
moved with her husband when he took a
job in Boston, Massachusetts. Whitman
worked for StrideRite, a children's shoe
company, for four years before accepting
the position of Chief Executive Officer
at Florists' Transworld Delivery (FTD),
a job that ultimately dissuaded her from
working in the corporate world. She resigned
from her position in 1997 and took a job
with Hasbro, a toy manufacturer, as a
general manager marketing products.
1998 a corporate headhunter approached
Whitman with an opportunity to work for
a small internet start-up company in California's
Silicon Valley. The company was named
Auction Web, an online auction site started
programmer Pierre Omidyar. Originally
intended to sell and trade pez dispensers,
Auction Web had quickly become a leader
in online auctions and had grown too big
for Omidyar to handle. He was looking
for someone to help direct the company's
growth and hired, along with investors
from Benchmark Capitol, a headhunter to
find a qualified candidate.
was originally reluctant to accept, but,
after spending a day with the Auction
Web/eBay company, she agreed to take the
job. She joined eBay in March 1998 and
immediately began restructuring the marketing,
graphics, and online approach of eBay.
Eager to appeal to both individual sellers
as well as larger companies and stores,
Whitman helped guide the changes to create
equality in the marketplace. Once all
the necessary changes were in place, Whitman
took eBay public in September of 1998.
Within hours of their first public offering,
eBay was listed as one of the fastest
growing internet companies in the world.
Whitman quickly became a miliionaire.
a few short years, Whitman helped eBay
grow their customer base from 750,000
to over seven million. Although other
internet auction sites tried to follow
the eBay formula, the company had already
established itself as a leader in the
industry and remained almost untouchable.
Whitman continued to restructure eBay
services, making sure that the customer
(the buyer) was always protected and that
the site maintained a degree of quality
control over the merchandise listed. Satisfied
customers continued to spread the word,
bringing more business to both eBay and
the sellers on site. It was a win-win
formula for everyone.
her work with eBay, Whitman continued
to remain open to criticism, advice, and
opportunities, frequently fielding phone
calls from consumers and working in a
cubicle to remain connected to her employees.
As a result of her connection with customers,
and at the urgency of her staff, Whitman
agreed to purchase the online checking
and banking site, PayPal, in 2003.
continues to be a leader in online sales
Whitman left her role as eBay CEO in 2007
and continued to advice her predecessor
John Donahoe through 2008. She went on
to support Mitt Romney then John
McCain in their failed bids for the
role of President in the United States
in 2008. Whitman ran for the role of Californian
governor in the 2010 election for the
party. She lost to Jerry Brown after
spending a record $144 million of her
own funds on the campaign.
Whitman became President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard
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