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Margaret Cushing Whitman, or better known as Meg Whitman, is a very famous American businesswoman and philanthropist. She was born on August 4, 1956 in Huntington, New York, United States. She is mostly known as the current CEO of Quibi, past CEO and President of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HP) and eBay. She has also been involved with numerous other business.
Beginning and Personal Life
She was specifically born in the hamlet of Cold Spring Harbor in Huntington, New York. Her family has a long history of everything leading to a member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, to United State Senators, to famous writers.
She attended her local high school of Cold Spring Harbor High School, but she graduated in only three years in 1974. It is said she was one of the smartest people in her class. At the time she wanted to be in the medical field as a doctor, so she started to study math and science.
But, after working with a magazine over a summer, she became very interested in economics and pursued an economic bachelors of arts degree with honors in 1977. Soon after, Whitman earned her M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration) from Harvard Business School in 1979.
Later she married Griffith Harsh IV, a neurosurgeon at Stanford University Medical Center, in 1980. The two of them have had two sons and have lived in Atherton, California since early 1998. Meg Whitman also has the residential college, Whitman College, built for her $30 million dollar donation at Princeton University.
In her early years as a business woman, Meg Whitman jumped from job to job after a more advantageous job was shown to her. She began her business career right after graduating from Harvard and join Procter & Gamble, a consumer good corporation located in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a brand manager.
She then actually moved to work at Bain & Company in San Francisco, a large global management consultancy. She began there as just a consultant but climbed through the ranks to become the senior vice president.
By 1989, Meg became the vice president of strategic planning at The Walt Disney Company, which is a huge world famous company. In a short two years later, she joined Stride Rite Corporation, an American company that develops children’s footwear.
Then she became the president and CEO of Florists’ Transworld Delivery, a same day flower delivery service, in 1995.
Of course, the next logical step was for her to be the Hasbro’s Playskool Division General Manager. Hasbro is a worldwide toy and board game company, and is considered to be the largest toy maker based on stock market value.
She was mostly in charge of the Playskool and Mr. Potato Head brands. An interesting fact is that she is responsible for importing the Teletubbies show into the United States.
eBay is one of the most popular companies that Meg Whitman has been apart of. She joined in March of 1998 when it only had 30 employees, but still had a yearly revenue of close to $4 million dollars.
While she held the position of CEO, eBay grew to 15,000 employees and $8 billion dollars by 2008. That is an intense increase that can only be accounted to her excellent leadership.
When she joined eBay, she decided that they should redo the website as previously it was just a black and white web page with simple fonts and nothing special.
Meg also decided to organize the company into 23 separate business categories with their own assigned executives. This lead to over 35,000 sub categories in the business.
In 2004 to 2005, she made many changes specifically to who is running the company. She assigned Jeff Jordan to take over PayPal, Matt Bannick for international operations and Bill Cobb to be in control of U.S. operation. She also made John J. Donahoe the president of eBay Marketplaces.
In September of 2005 Whitman tried to make a strong move of buying Skype for 4.1 billion dollars. eBay later came out and said they overvalued Skype and said it wasn’t worth the price they paid.
Later after Skype was sold and bought by another company, Microsoft bought Skype for close to 8.5 billion dollars in 2011, which is over twice the value of what eBay purchased it at, but eBay actually lost money when they sold it to a group of investors for only 2.75 billion dollars in 2009.
This was a major loss of opportunity for eBay and herself and is probably Meg Whitman’s most notable misplays in the business game.
Meg Whitman resigned from eBay in November 2007 letting CEO John Donahoe take the lead. However, she did stay on the board and served as an advisor for him for the year after her resignation.
She said in an interview that she stayed at eBay for just the right amount of time and she believed that new leadership and perspective will lead the business in a better direction.
Despite her failure with Skype, eBay wouldn’t be what it is today without the guidance of Meg Whitman. She truly changed the business for good, therefore changing how online marketplaces work.
With the work she did, Fortune magazine named Whitman as the top most powerful women and Harvard Business Review named her the eighth best performing CEOs of the past decade. The final award was by Financial Times named her one of the fifty faces that shaped the decade.
Probably as famous as the online marketplace of eBay, she also contributed a lot to Hewlett-Packard, the multinational information technology company. She initially joined in the beginning of 2011 as a member of the board of directors. In the same year by September she was named CEO.
Her jump to the leadership position can only be attributed to her hard work done in previous businesses such as eBay and was recognized by the board.
As CEO of HP she decided to renew the companies focus on research and development along with committing the business to the PC market which the previous CEO was thinking to remove.
However unlike eBay, HP did not have a similar spike of growth, but rather a decline. In 2013, Bloomberg named Whitman as the “Most Underachieving CEO” as the stocks of her company were dramatically down compared to the rest of the market.
In fact, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise underperformed by thirty percentage points from when Meg took the job as CEO.
By July 2017, she stepped down from HP’s board of directors, but remained CEO of the company. This is a very unusual move to do by anyone, but she claimed that she was fully committed to the success of HP and planned to remain CEO as she had lots of work to do.
However, that seemed to prove false as on November 21, 2017 she announced she was stepping down and letting the president of the company, Antonio Neri take over as CEO. Although she was at HP for nearly seven years, her stay was not the most successful she has experience.
In 2018, Meg Whitman announced that she was going to become the first CEO of the new video streaming platform Quibi. Although it still has not been released, the platform is said to specialize in short form videos targeted at younger viewers for viewing on the go.
Every video on the platform will be less than ten minutes long to be viewed on the phone. Quibi is scheduled to launch on April 6, 2020. This doesn’t seem too notable but, Quibi has already gathered a number of investors ranging from Sony all the way to Disney. There is a lot of backing behind the platform and we will just have to see how successful this business is.
Throughout her life of a business woman, Whitman has acquired a great deal of wealth, which she has generously donated a lot of money to many different funds. To begin, in 2006 she and her husband founded the Griffith R. Harsh IV and Margaret C Whitman Charitable Foundation by donating 300,000 shares of eBay valued at 9.4 million dollars.
Most of the money went to the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit environmental group, and she has donated 2.5 million dollars to several charter schools around the San Jose area.
The Legacy of Meg Whitman
Throughout this article, anyone can tell that Meg Whitman is a very successful business woman, if not the most successful woman in business in the 21st century. Meg really changed the game in many different ways that can’t be fit in a line of text.
We here are excited to see where she will go and what new businesses she will take to the top of the stock market. Meg Whitman is a person that everyone should keep their eyes on to see what she does next.