Ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who once ran Hasbro's Mr. Potato Head brand, is inching toward making a formal announcement that she will run as a Republican candidate for governor. Even before she left eBay after a sterling business career, there were rumors that her fascination with politics was such that she might seek the gubernatorial position.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the move star who gained fame in his Terminator roles, is prevented from seeking re-election by term limits.
Whitman reignited speculation that she will seek the governor's position on Monday when she abruptly resigned from the eBay board as well as from the boards of Procter & Gamble and DreamWorks Animation SKG. Her spokesman said the resignations were for "personal reasons."
The move could pre-empt another prominent Republican woman -- Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard -- from seeking the position. Both women held important positions in Sen. John McCain's failed run for the presidency. Whitman has an important edge over Fiorina -- the ex-eBay executive left the company she built up with more than $1 billion worth of stock, while Fiorina, who was eased out of HP, left with just a few million dollars.
Whitman worked at Bain & Co. with former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and she joined his campaign as a fundraiser. She later switched to McCain's campaign after he became the GOP nominee. Whitman is a relative newcomer to politics, having registered as a Republican only in recent years.
Whitman joined eBay more than 10 years ago when the then startup had just three dozen employees. When she left eBay, the online auction company had 15,000 employees and had become an Internet retailing powerhouse. She oversaw many acquisitions, including online payments unit PayPal and VoIP calling company Skype.
In a statement, eBay chief executive and president John Donahoe said: "Meg's vision and leadership and her passion for the eBay community have helped create economic opportunity for millions of people worldwide and enabled us to build a dynamic portfolio of leading online businesses. Her experience and insights will be missed, but Meg will always be a part of the eBay family and we wish her the very best."