After picking the wrong horse in the Presidential Election (where she might have become Secretary of the Treasury if John McCain had won), former eBay CEO Meg Whitman now looks to be laying the groundwork for a run at the governorship in California in 2010. (The current Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, cannot run for another term under existing laws). Whitman today resigned from all the corporate boards she serves on—eBay, Procter & Gamble, and Dreamworks Animation. While she hasn’t formally declared that she is even exploring the possibility of becoming a candidate, that is the scuttlebutt.
If she wins the Republican nomination, candidates she could face on the Democratic side include former California Governor Jerry Brown (who is thinking of running again) and two popular mayors (Gavin Newsom of San Francisco and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles). If she hopes to stand a chance, she needs to cultivate more of a populist streak. Expect to see her on a lot more talk shows.
Even though she left eBay a year ago, much of her appeal will be tied to the public’s perception of the company, which has seen better days. If eBay turns itself around and is once again seen as a success in two years, that will help her campaign. But if eBay sellers and buyers continue to flee from the service, that will hurt her. She cannot escape the eBay association.
Would you vote for her?