How Meg Whitman's eBay Tenure Stacks Up Against Other CEOs

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whitman-as-ebay-CEO.jpg

Meg Whitman's name is back in the headlines with the rumor that she might replace Léo Apotheker as head of HP. The New York Times ran a rather catty article about the grumblings in the tech world at the prospect of the move. One of the kinder quotes went, "It's not a ridiculous choice. But they could have done better."

To me, it felt like people were focusing on Whitman's personal style and the lingering aftereffects of her GOP governor run more than her performance as a company executive.

I think this quantitative analysis bears that out. If you look at Whitman's tenure (late 1998 to January 2008) at eBay, she did well, at least by the bottom-line measure of growing net income. Stacked up against the most legendary CEOs of our time, she holds her own against all but the truly elite (Schmidt, Palmisano, Scott, Welch, Jobs). She's situated in a little cluster with Michael Dell and Michael Eisner, which isn't anything to sneeze at.
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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