Uncle Carl has been railing about eBay’s refusal to do what he wants it to do for seven whole weeks now, with new missives every other business day, plus countless tweets and television appearances, about how very badly run is a company that he owns 2% of. Perhaps he realizes that not everyone will wish to read the tens (hundreds? We’ve lost count.) of thousands of words he’s penned on the matter. So allow him to make his case in 23.
CARL ICAHN ON EBAY: CONFLICTS OF INTEREST! OPTIONS BACKDATING SCANDAL! INVESTMENTS IN DIRECT COMPETITORS! DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATION! THESE ARE “WORLD-CLASS” DIRECTORS?
OK, maybe a few more:
I believe that the Skype affair, only some of the sordid details of which we recently exposed, represents a complete and utter breakdown in the system of checks and balances that a properly functioning board should provide. Without a strong and independent board that rejects cronyism and is willing to hold management accountable, I believe that eBay stockholders may again suffer a travesty even worse than what was visited upon them when Skype was sold prematurely and $4 billion of upside was lost….
MESSAGE TO EBAY’S BOARD: THESE TYPES OF SHENANIGANS MAY FLY IN COUNTRIES WHERE DECISIONS AFFECTING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE’S LIVES ARE MADE IN SECRET POLITBURO MEETINGS. BUT I BELIEVE ONE OF THE THINGS WHICH MAKES OUR COUNTRY THE GREATEST ON EARTH IS OUR DEMOCRATIC FORM OF GOVERNMENT, WHERE DELIBERATIONS ARE CONDUCTED IN THE LIGHT OF DAY AND OUR LEADERS ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE. LEGISLATION SUCH AS THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT ENSURES THAT NOTHING STAYS BURIED FOR LONG. THE WORDS OF JUSTICE LOUIS BRANDEIS ARE JUST AS RELEVANT TODAY AS THEY WERE IN 1913: “PUBLICITY IS JUSTLY COMMENDED AS A REMEDY FOR SOCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL DISEASES. SUNLIGHT IS SAID TO BE THE BEST OF DISINFECTANTS; ELECTRIC LIGHT THE MOST EFFICIENT POLICEMAN….”
I have been so successful with companies over the years because I have brought in the right CEO. Sometimes convincing boards to make changes takes years, but when change ultimately comes the results are often startlingly good. In just the last year, simply examine our successes at Forest Laboratories and Chesapeake Energy. We believe that at the very least, eBay stockholders must send Donahoe and the board a message that we are very unhappy with the current situation at eBay.
Above emphases very definitely the author’s. And he didn’t even get to the part about how, in spite of protestations to the contrary, eBay’s own board apparently doesn’t think much of the job this Donahoe character is doing, even without two people on Icahn’s payroll weighing in on the matter.
Carl Icahn Open Letter to eBay Shareholders [Shareholders’ Square Table]
EBay CEO Donahoe’s total pay for 2013 sinks 53 pct [AP via WaPo]