In a Fortune interview, billionaire former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who hopes to be the next Republican governor of California, shows she has more money than sense, an excellent recipe for entering politics.
She tells Fortune that she might spend $50 million of her own money on the campaign. That figure daunts even Jerry Brown, the state attorney general who's running for a second stint as governor: "That's a lot!"
But what does she bring besides money? The article glosses over her spotty voting record — she voted in less than half of the past 10 year's elections. And it also gives her a pass on her opposition to gay marriage. That position, in particular, has enraged natural supporters inside eBay and around the Bay Area, where a business conservative might otherwise hope to win crossover votes. (Puzzle this one out: Whitman's longtime assistant at eBay, Anita Gaeta, is a lesbian who lives with her partner in San Jose, and is working with her on the campaign.)
Whitman's fundamental mistake seems to be thinking that the decisiveness she displayed as eBay's CEO will translate into governance. Hold on a second. Was Whitman that great a CEO, beyond eBay's first few years, when the startup was fueled by the strength of founder Pierre Omidyar's idea of an online auction?
She made several bad mistakes in the second half of her career at eBay: buying the voice-over-Internet startup Skype for $2.6 billion; enraging eBay's sellers by hiking fees; and putting a revolving door of leaders through PayPal, the company's online service, which eBay is only now focusing on as a growth engine.
So, let's review: This is a person who engaged in wasteful spending, raised eBay's equivalent of taxes, and squandered opportunities for growth.
"Being CEO of the state is not a popularity contest," she says. Well, actually, last time we checked, getting the job was. Whitman had better start trying being popular, because running on her business record seems like a non-starter.