eBay CEO Devin Wenig has stepped down in the midst of a push by activist investors to sell off assets, including ticket resale marketplace StubHub, the company announced this week. He has been replaced for the time being with Scott Schenkel, eBay’s senior vice president and chief financial officer.
“Devin has been a tireless advocate for driving improvement in the business, particularly in leading the Company forward after the PayPal spinoff,” said chairman Thomas Tierney in a statement reported by CNBC. “Notwithstanding this progress, given a number of considerations, both Devin and the Board believe that a new CEO is best for the Company at this time.”
The company confirmed that the “previously announced operating review is ongoing and the company expects to provide an update this fall.”
That strategic review was spurred by activist investors from Elliot Management and Starboard Value LP, who began pushing for the company to spin off StubHub and its Classified businesses to focus on its core marketplace operations early in 2019.
“Elliott believes that eBay is worth far more – but change is urgently needed to address both public perceptions and real business issues,” Jesse Cohn, a partner at Elliott, wrote in a letter to eBay reported by the Mercury News at the time. He called these issues “prolonged, self-inflicted misexecution” which caused eBay’s Marketplace to be “deeply undervalued.”
As the review has progressed, news has bubbled up that Vivid Seats LLC is among the potential suitors, joined by Silver Lake Partners (which is also rumored to be considering the purchase of TEG and Ticketek as of this week) and KKR & Co. Recent developments in the primary ticketing world – particularly Ticketmaster’s troubling weaponization of its Safetix system to cripple free market resale at a Black Keys concert – have caused some to question the long-term value of the secondary market leader as eBay shops it around.
As his departure was announced, Wenig pointed to troubles with the board as the core reason for his departure after five years at the head of the e-commerce giant.
“In the past few weeks it became clear that I was not on the same page as my new Board. Whenever that happens, its best for everyone to turn that page over. It has been an incredible privilege to lead one of the worlds great businesses for the past 8 years,” he tweeted as part of a thread discussing his leaving the company.
In the past few weeks it became clear that I was not on the same page as my new Board. Whenever that happens, its best for everyone to turn that page over. It has been an incredible privilege to lead one of the worlds great businesses for the past 8 years.
— Devin Wenig (@devinwenig) September 25, 2019