Meg Whitman retires from eBay

eBay employees have just received an email from longtime CEO Meg Whitman announcing her retirement. She joined the company 10 years ago, when it had a mere 30 employees; it now has 14,000. John Donahoe, as expected, will succeed her as CEO. Rajiv Dutta, currently CEO of PayPal, will take Donahoe's job as head of eBay's auctions business. Whitman will remain on the board. Strange, that: In an email to employees, Whitman says it's "time for a new leadership team," and yet all the same faces are staying in place. Here's her full memo to employees.

Many of you know I've said in the past that 10 years was about the right amount of time for any CEO to stay at the helm of a company. Now that I've reached that milestone myself, I still believe this. It's time for eBay, and this community, to have a new leadership team, a new perspective and a new vision.

As we announced today, I will step down as eBay's President and CEO on March 31, 2008, and our current head of eBay Marketplaces, John Donahoe, will succeed me in my role. Rajiv Dutta, our current president of PayPal and former CFO for several years, will replace John as the president of eBay Marketplaces. You'll be hearing more from them and their teams in the coming weeks and months.

Looking back, I was given a remarkable opportunity when Pierre Omidyar, eBay's founder, asked me to join eBay in January 1998. Ten years later, I couldn't be more in awe of what we accomplished together. When I joined eBay, it was a small site, in some ways still very much an experiment. Most people didn't know, or didn't believe, that perfect strangers would trade with one another, and that they could almost always be counted on to do the right thing.

Over the course of a decade, you have helped revolutionize the way people use the Internet, buy and sell things, create and grow businesses, and connect with each other. In 2007 alone, our community of hundreds of millions of people around the world traded more than $60 billion in goods. Millions found the courage to tap their entrepreneurial spirit and start businesses. Millions more have pursued passions and made connections that will last a lifetime. And countless others found that perfect thing - an old high school yearbook, a favorite toy from their youth - that they couldn't get anywhere else.

I am truly astounded by what has been built here. And all the credit goes to you, our community. You took the chances to start businesses. You created markets for products where there were none before. You defined what it means to be a good citizen in this Internet-enabled world. And yes, we hit a few bumps along with way, but that's to be expected when you're building something that has never existed before. But even, and especially, during those times, I was always inspired by the passion you showed.

It's with great pride and a strong sense of accomplishment that I leave this post and hand it over to the capable leaders we have in John and Rajiv. I've known both of them for many years and have believed for a long time that they are the ideal people to steer eBay into the future.

eBay is in my blood and always will be, so I'm not stepping back completely; I will remain on eBay's Board of Directors. And of course, I'll keep buying and selling on the site.

I'm so very honored to have worked with you in building this incredible community. Thank you for letting me be a part of it for the last decade.

Meg

(Photo by AP)