FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CARL C. ICAHN ISSUES OPEN LETTER TO
eBay Inc (NYSE:EBAY) STOCKHOLDERS
New York, New York, February 24, 2014 – Today Carl C. Icahn released the following open letter to stockholders of eBay Inc.
Dear Fellow eBay Stockholders,
We have recently accumulated a significant position in eBay’s common stock because we believe there is great long-term value in the business. However, after diligently researching this company we have discovered multiple lapses in corporate governance. These include certain material conflicts of interest, which we believe could put the future of our company in peril. We have found ourselves in many troubling situations over the years, but the complete disregard for accountability at eBay is the most blatant we have ever seen. Indeed, for the first time in our long history, we have encountered a situation where we believe we should not even have to run a proxy fight to change the board composition. Rather, we believe that in any sane business environment these directors would simply resign immediately from the eBay Board, either out of pure decency or sheer embarrassment at the public exposure of the extent of their self-serving activities.
How is it possible for the current board to engage in any meaningful discussions about long-term stockholder value while: (1) at least two board members are directly competing with eBay, (2) one board member is demanding eBay cease hiring the most talented employees, (3) another board member is routinely funding competitors while buying companies from eBay and reaping significant personal riches, (4) at least two board members appear to have put their own financial gain in ongoing conflict with their fiduciary responsibilities to stockholders and (5) the CEO seems to be completely asleep or, even worse, either naive or willfully blind to these grave lapses of accountability and stockholder value destruction?
The Board’s Transgressions and CEO Mr. John Donahoe’s Ineptitude in Addressing Them
Mr. Marc Andreessen – Independent Director
Since Mr. Andreessen has been an eBay insider, he has engaged in several transactions that lead us to question his loyalty to eBay. During Mr. Andreessen’s time on the eBay Board he has purchased large stakes in two former eBay subsidiaries, reaping significant personal riches. In September 2009, an investor group that included Mr. Andreessen, preempted a planned Skype IPO (in which stockholders would have ended up making multiple billions of dollars) and bought 70% of Skype for less than what eBay had paid to acquire it(1).Mr. Andreessen basked in the purchase, saying that “Skype is the archetypal phenomenon: a breakthrough technology”(2). His partner was even more excited, stating that “Skype is on its way to becoming one of the most important companies in the world”(2). One cannot help but wonder what happened to Mr. Andreessen’s fiduciary responsibility to share his feelings with Mr. Donahoe and the board rather than preempt the planned IPO to further his own interests. A mere 18 months later, Mr. Andreessen’s investor group flipped Skype to Microsoft for $8.5 billion, a value three times what they paid for it(3), netting approximately $4 billion(3) at the expense of eBay stockholders. After the sale to Microsoft, Mr. Andreessen, a sitting eBay Board member and fiduciary to stockholders, stated: “one reason we were enthusiastic about buying Skype was that even though we thought it would be a tremendous standalone business, we also knew that for Microsoft and a number of other companies Skype would be an obvious thing to buy. We knew we’d always have the fall-backof selling to strategic buyers”(4). Did Mr. Andreessen share this strong view with Mr. Donahoe? Was Mr. Donahoe completely asleep, or even worse, so naive and deferential to his “world-class board”(5) that he allowed a sitting board member and several private equity firms to walk away with over $4 billion in what was essentially stockholder’s money after a sale to a strategic that he obviously should have orchestrated himself?Many others have been vocally critical of the Skype transaction(2,6), but, until now, none have taken on the task of standing up to Mr. Donahoe and this board.
Mr. Andreessen’s next eBay sourced grand slam was his investment in Kynetic. In March 2011, as part of eBay’s $2.4 billion acquisition of GSI Commerce, the eBay Board decided they no longer wanted the Kynetic portion of GSI Commerce and sold it back to the company’s founder for just $31 million in cash and a $467 million sellers note at below market interest.(7,8) In June 2012, Mr. Andreessen pounced, making a $150 million investment in Kynetic at a $1.5 billion valuation, leveraging the low sale price and below market financing which the eBay Board had recently approved.(9) Just a year later, Kynetic was valued at $3.1 billion, giving Mr. Andreessen a paper gain of more than 100%.(10)
Additionally, during Mr. Andreessen’s time on the eBay Board – a time when he has been privy to nonpublic eBay Board information – he has made investments in and actively advised, no less than five direct competitors of eBay (four of which are competitors of PayPal), including Boku (mobile payments platform), Coinbase (Bitcoin wallet), Dwolla (secure online money management), Jumio (online and mobile credit card payments) and Fab (design e-commerce)(11). How can Mr. Donahoe and the eBay Board allow Mr. Andreessen to advise these competitors while he simultaneously possesses not only nonpublic eBay Board information but also intimate proprietary information about PayPal’s operations? But perhaps more importantly, how can Mr. Andreessen be trusted to objectively advise Mr. Donahoe and the eBay Board about the strategic direction of PayPal when he has vested interest in so many of its competitors? Regarding Square, another powerful PayPal competitor, Mr. Andreessen publicly lamented his regret in passing on the opportunity to invest in that company as well.(12)
Mr. Scott Cook – Independent Director and Member of the Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee
Mr. Cook is the founder, former CEO and a current board member of Intuit Inc. Mr. Cook has retained almost $1 billion of Intuit stock (~100x the $9 million of eBay stock he owns). Intuit and PayPal are direct competitors in payment processing as Intuit Go-Payment provides virtually the same capabilities to merchants as PayPal Here(13,14,15,16,17). How can the board have a conversation about the strategy or performance of PayPal when a representative of a direct competitor who has so much at stake is in the room? Even worse, Mr. Cook also apparently believes he can tell eBay whom the company cannot hire. Unbelievably, according to a pending DOJ complaint, “eBay ultimately agreed to an expansive no-solicitation and no-hire agreement in large part to placate Intuit’s Mr. Cook, who was serving as a member of eBay’s Board of Directors and who, at the same time, was making several complaints on behalf of Intuit about eBay’s hiring practices”(18,19,20). Furthermore, according to the complaint, in an effort to placate Mr. Cook, eBay instructed its employees not to pursue potential hires from Intuit and to discard their resumes.(18,19,20) Is Mr. Cook wary of how a standalone PayPal could impact the company he founded? Is he worried that it would diminish the value of his $1 billion in Intuit stock?
The best question, however, is where has Mr. Donahoe been when all of this has been going on?
Mr. John Donahoe – Chief Executive Officer, President and