May 27, 2024

Bits: Meg Whitman Finds a Job

Meg Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay who lost her bid to become California’s governor, has a new job.

She has joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm, as a part-time special adviser, Kleiner Perkins announced late Tuesday. In addition to coaching and advising entrepreneurs, she will help evaluate new digital investments.

“I’ve known the KPCB team for years – they are fabulous advocates for technology-based start-ups,” Ms. Whitman said in a statement. “I look forward to providing insight and applying my experiences to help the next generation of businesses scale.”

Kleiner Perkins is among the most well-known venture capital firms, with early investments in successes like Google and Yahoo. More recently, it has invested in Twitter and Zynga, which makes online video games.

The hiring of Ms. Whitman, a Republican, adds to Kleiner Perkins’s political pedigree. Former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, is a partner while former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, is described as a “strategic limited partner.”

Ms. Whitman won the Republican primary for California governor last year, but lost by a wide margin in the general election to Jerry Brown, a former governor. She spent more than $160 million, most of it from her own fortune, on the failed venture. She remains, nevertheless, a billionaire.

Prior to running for office, Ms. Whitman led eBay for 10 years, starting when it was a start-up with only 30 employees. During her tenure, the company became a global colossus, although it struggled with slow growth during the last couple of years that she was there.

“Meg helped build eBay into one of the leading players in online commerce,” Ted Schlein, a venture capitalist with Kleiner Perkins, said in a statement. “Her experience and strategic advice will be invaluable to entrepreneurs who are rapidly changing the way business is done.”

Regardless of her role, the question will inevitably be whether Ms. Whitman can pick winning companies from the losers. Her record at eBay, at least in terms of acquisitions, was mixed. EBay’s acquisition of online payment service PayPal in 2002 is considered one of Ms. Whitman’s wisest business decisions as a chief executive. Acquiring online calling service Skype in 2006, in contrast, was a failure.

Since losing the governor’s race, Ms. Whitman has gradually added new responsibilities, joining the boards of Hewlett-Packard, Procter Gamble (she had left that board while running for governor) and Zipcar.

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