On the record, the mudslinging between the aged corporate raider and the online auctioneers remains as nasty as ever, with eBay calling Uncle Carl's employees and would-be eBay directors unqualified and busier than Marc Andreessen, and Icahn shooting back that CEO John Donahoe is "either incompetent or negligent," and eBay responding in kind, calling Icahn a liar who is impervious to facts.
Off the record, however, Icahn and Donahoe are gentlemen, well-practiced in the arts of etiquette and decorum.
Have you had any direct contact with Icahn since your initial phone call before earnings?
Yeah, we've met.
And how was that encounter?
A frank exchange of views. It was a good conversation. I reached out to him as a shareholder, just as I've met with our other large shareholders --
When was this? Recently?
-- when I want to have dialogue and I want to listen to their thoughts, ideas, and feedback. And I did that with Carl just as I did it with the others.
And when was that?
We agreed to have ground rules. We agreed it would be off the record. This allowed an open conversation, and it was a good, mutually respectful dialogue that's different than all that stuff going on in the media. It was an intelligent, informed, mutual discussion.
Was there any gentleman's agreement to not criticize or "bad-mouth" each other publicly?
No! [laughs] But I'll say this about Carl. He said what he was going to do. We had different points of view. The irony is that we both share the view of driving up shareholder value. It's just a matter of a different perspective of timeframe that matters and how you get there from here.
EBay rejects Icahn board nominees, asks investors to do the same [Reuters]
EBay Rejects Icahn's Nominees for Its Board [DealBook]
eBay's John Donahoe talks Icahn, conflicts, and $100 stock price (someday) [Fortune via CNNMoney]