eBay has announced sweeping changes at the top of several of its major subsidiaries. The catalyst for the reform appears to be PayPal president Jeff Jordan’s desire to “spend more time with his family,” and thus leaving the company this fall. Jordan might go back into business, perhaps rejoining the entertainment industry where he spent many years as CFO of The Disney Store and Hollywood Entertainment, as well as president of Hollywood division Reel.com, or expanding his role in Expedia.com, where he currently sits on the board of subsidiary Hotwired.com. If he does, we’ll know that “family time” is just another euphemisms for “you’re fired.”
Taking Jordan’s place, Rajiv Dutta moves over from his current position as president of Skype—another eBay subsidiary. He previously spent five years as CFO of eBay, and should be well qualified to handle the payment service’s operations. He’s facing new challenges from Google’s new Checkout service, though it’s quite possible that the threat is largely imaginary; Google Checkout is not a direct competitor in PayPal’s core market of person-to-person payments, and Google even wants to the Checkout service accept PayPal alongside Visa and American Express. In return, eBay has explicitly blocked the use of Checkout for auction payments. And so it goes.
To continue the game of musical Aerons, Skype’s VP of Products, Alex Kazim, moves up to the vacant president post, reporting directly to Skype founder and CEO Niklas Zennström. Kazim has been bouncing around the eBay organization in various roles for seven years, after running the show at video game studio IX Entertainment (makers of artistic success but commercial failure Golden Gate in 1996) and managing software development projects at Apple. Kazim seems like a better fit for this post than Dutta was, bringing more of an engineering focus than a financial one to a highly technical field, so these changes should work out to eBay’s advantage in the long run.
That leaves one more major executive change to report: Lorrie Norrington adds the presidentship of eBay International to her existing Shopping.com presidency, replacing Matt Bannick who moves into “eBay’s initiatives in corporate philanthropy and the developing world.” That move is effective immediately, unlike the others. She has held leadership positions at financial software maker Intuit, and spent 20 years climbing the corporate ladder at GE, where she ended up president and CEO of FANUC Automation. Her experience with global sales is unclear, while Bannick did bring significant international experience to the table. As a consultant with McKinsey and Company, he was part of the US dimplomatic staff sent to help unify Germany when the wall came down. In other words, it’s not clear that this is an upgrade.
Overall, however, eBay seems to be making some good moves here, making better use of the talents and experiences of its top staffers. Or in the company’s own words, “The changes will help the company leverage the expertise of top executives and further eBay’s efforts to build synergies among its brands.” I suppose buzzword bingo is okay as long as the company actually means what it’s saying.