Commentary

Walmart's Iannone Named EBay CEO

Jamie Iannone, an old eBay hand who went on to other pursuits -- most recently a short stint as COO of Walmart ecommerce -- is returning to the legacy ecommerce company as CEO starting April 27. He will also join the board of directors.

“A well regarded ecommerce executive, Iannone had taken the No. 2 job at Walmart's $32 billion online business just three months ago. At eBay, he will take over a company facing pressure from activist investors to streamline its business at a time when there is increasing competition from other online marketplaces,” Phil Wahba writes  for Fortune.

“In Iannone, whose February Walmart appointment had put him in a prime position to eventually become head of its ecommerce business, eBay is getting an executive who has known how to push through innovation at traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. He is also familiar with the business, having previously worked for eBay between 2001 and 2009, including as a vice president,” Wahba continues.

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“Years of stagnant sales growth have diminished eBay’s position in an online commerce market that’s dominated in the U.S. by Amazon.com Inc. Activist investors Elliott Management Corp. and Starboard Value last year began pushing for changes at eBay, which resulted in two new directors being appointed to the board. The company has since sold ticket-resale site StubHub for $4.05 billion, and is in the midst of evaluating offers for its classified ads business,” Bloomberg’s Molly Schuetz, Scott Deveau and Matthew Boyle write.

"Iannone will succeed Devin Wenig, who left eBay in September. Wenig resigned from his role as eBay faced pressure from … Elliott Management and Starboard Value … to drive up the value of shares. Wenig explained his departure in a tweet, saying that he ‘was not on the same page as my new Board,’” CNBC’s Melissa Repko writes.

“Starboard did not respond to a request for comment [yesterday],” write Reuters’ Amal S and Svea Herbst-Bayliss.

“‘Today’s announcement of Jamie as the new CEO of eBay is a huge positive for the company,’ said Jesse Cohn, an Elliott partner and eBay board member,” they add.

Scott Schenkel, who had been eBay’s CFO, has been interim CEO since Wenig left. He will continue in that role until Iannone joins the company and will then work with him “to ensure a smooth transition of leadership,” according to the release announcing the news. 

Andy Cring will continue to serve as interim CFO.

“Iannone joined Sam’s Club in January 2014 as president and CEO of SamsClub.com, coming to the company from Barnes & Noble, where he was president of digital products. Before that, he spent nearly eight years at eBay, with vice president of global search and vice president of buyer experience being his most recent roles,” Russell Redman reported  for Supermarket News after Iannone got his latest promotion at Walmart.

“Sam’s Club has served as a test ground for Walmart’s digital initiatives. It launched a service called Scan & Go that allows shoppers to skip the line and check out through a smartphone app instead. It has another voice-enabled app, called ‘Ask Sam,’ that helps employees find an item or answer customers’ questions more quickly,” CNBC’s Repko reports.

“EBay, which recently lost its place to Walmart as the nation’s second-largest online retailer by share of online sales, according to eMarketer, has seen its revenue growth shrink and has sought to shed its image as an auction site while not having the capacity to compete adequately with Amazon, America’s largest online retailer. EBay spent years growing through acquisitions that most notably included its 13-year ownership of PayPal Holdings Inc. The value of the payments platform, which spun off in 2015, is now more than four times eBay’s,” Sebastian Herrera and Colin Kellaher write  for The Wall Street Journal.

“In January, eBay reported a decline in profit and gave a weaker first-quarter revenue outlook, anticipating $2.55 billion to $2.60 billion, below analysts’ estimates of $2.64 billion,” they add.

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