In a new video sent to employees today, eBay Chief Executive John Donahoe reiterated that the company is better off keeping PayPal and defended board member and venture capital investor Marc Andreessen from attacks by activist investor Carl Icahn.
Icahn, the billionaire hedge fund manager, has been amping up his campaign to force eBay to spin off or sell PayPal through seemingly daily tweets and letters to the company’s shareholders. In some of Icahn’s more recent missives, he has accused Andreessen of a conflict-of-interest for serving on the eBay board while simultaneously being part of an investor group that purchased Skype from the online marketplace in 2009 in a deal valued at $2.75 billion. Two years later, the group flipped Skype to Microsoft in a deal value at $8.5 billion, or nearly $6 billion more.
According to Bloomberg data, as of February 24 Icahn owned 27.8 million shares of eBay, or a stake of 2.15%. Those shares are valued at around $1.6 billion based on today’s stock price of roughly $56.80.
In the new video, which was forwarded to BuzzFeed from a source inside eBay, Donahoe again attempts to beat back Icahn’s accusations.
Dressed in a blue collared shirt open at the neck with no tie, Donahoe tells employees that, “We have more insight around our own company than anyone on the outside can” and calls Icahn’s campaign an attempt at “short term financial maneuvering to drive the stock price up.”
Donahoe says eBay’s board has looked at the possibility of spinning off or selling PayPal since he first became CEO in 2008 and in every instance have concluded that the two companies are better together.
Donahoe also dismisses Icahn’s conflict-of-interest accusations against Andreessen, saying there simply aren’t any and that the “background, experience and exposure” the venture capitalist brings to eBay is “invaluable.”
The video sent to employees was accompanied by a letter, a screenshot of which is below, that was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.