Gearing up for the spinoff of PayPal from eBay later this year, eBay today added two new people to its board, with one of them having an interesting link to some of eBay’s earlier corporate history. Tony Bates, currently the president of GoPro, and Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, are joining the board of directors.
William C. Ford and Richard T. Schlosberg, meanwhile, will be stepping down from their positions on the board at the next election, the company says. Additionally, Jonathan Christodoro is coming on to the board “as part of the previously announced standstill agreement with Carl Icahn.”
Icahn is the company’s largest active shareholder and set the ball rolling for PayPal’s separation from eBay last year, initially with much resistance from the eBay board. eBay says it now has 17 directors, 15 of whom are independent.
Another notable departure from the board in the wake of eBay following Icahn’s lead was Marc Andreessen, who stepped down in October 2014.
eBay is positioning this as part of the company’s bid to look ahead to the future of the business, with the separation of the two divisions “on track” to be completed in the second half of 2015.
It noted that PayPal will be updating its Form 10 filing in the second quarter of 2015 with more details on the separation, including “distribution and operating agreements between eBay and PayPal, as well as other corporate and business information.” (The first filing for PayPal Holdings doesn’t provide much detail.)
“The appointments of Tony and Gail to the board represent our commitment to adding highly qualified independent directors in preparation for creating two world-class boards,” said John Donahoe, President and CEO of eBay Inc. in a statement. “Tony and Gail are accomplished leaders. We look forward to their valuable insights and contributions as we launch two dynamic, global companies that are well positioned to create lasting value for their shareholders and customers.”
This may be a look to the future, but Bates in particular has an interesting connection to eBay’s past. Immediately prior to his role at GoPro, Bates — who has been in tech for 25 years — was an executive at Microsoft, where he had most recently been the EVP of business development and strategy. He was reportedly among those vying to take over the role of CEO of Microsoft and left the company after Satya Nadella got the job.
Bates came to Microsoft by way of its acquisition of Skype, where he took the role of CEO in 2010, one year before the company was acquired.
Prior to Bates’ reign, Skype was owned by none other than eBay. While that was been seen as one of the more disastrous acquisitions of all time, the bite was somewhat mitigated by the $1.4 billion that eBay made when Microsoft bought the company for $8 billion after it was spun off.
Bates is firmly in the camp that supports the idea of separating eBay’s e-commerce marketplace from PayPal’s payments technology. “The planned separation of eBay and PayPal will create two more nimble and focused companies that are better able to compete and win in the rapidly evolving commerce and payments markets. I am excited to join the board at this important juncture in eBay’s history and work with the management team and board as we set both of these great companies up for continued growth.”
McGovern also brings some tech pedigree to the board, including a past role as EVP of of AT&T’s Consumer Markets Division.