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Drama-Free John Donahoe Engineers a Drama-Full Exit After a Decade at eBay

Who would have thought he'd go so divergent within a few months?

Asa Mathat

John Donahoe, who has been a very heads-down CEO of eBay since 2008, has managed to make his departure next year pretty dramatic.

That’s because he’ll leave in 2015 after shepherding the split of the eBay e-commerce business from its PayPal payments unit, a move that he successfully resisted earlier this year after an attack by activist investor Carl Icahn.

It will create two independent and publicly traded companies where there once was one.

That’s a switch since, in an interview with Re/code staffer Jason Del Rey in the beginning of the year, Donahoe said: “I’d say commerce and payments are converging, not diverging.”

Who would have thought he’d go so divergent within a few months?

But the self-effacing Donahoe — in contrast to his more high-profile predecessor Meg Whitman, who left him with a company in need of turnaround — is picking an investor-friendly move as his last one. In that transaction, he is essentially unwinding a lot of what Whitman had gathered and trying to make that a win for eBay.

After a decade at the company, it is certainly an interesting way to exit. Donahoe has a year to go before he pulls off the separation in mid-2015. After that, he said he has no plans as yet.

More to come, obvi, but here’s an interview that Walt Mossberg did with Donahoe at the 2010 D: All Things Digital conference, or D8, in which the pair discuss a wide range of issues as the exec was in the midst of reviving the company amid stalled growth.

This article originally appeared on

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