At a Glance
- Career History: eBay, CEO (1998 to 2008); Hasbro Inc, Head of global marketing and management (1997 to 1998); Florists' Transworld Delivery, President and CEO (1995 to 1997)
- Birthday: Aug. 4, 1956
- Hometown: Oyster Bay, N.Y.
- Alma Mater: Princeton University, B.A. (economics), 1977; Harvard University, MBA, 1979
- Spouse: Griffith R. Harsh IV
- Web site
Path To Power
Whitman isn't cut from the same cloth as other Silicon Valley billionaires as she never grew up a tech-obsessed genius like Microsoft creator Bill Gates or Apple CEO Steve Jobs. But she used her likability and intelligence to climb the corporate ladder.
Born in Oyster Bay, N.Y., Whitman learned business from her father and life skills from her mother. At age six she joined a three-month camping trip from New York to Alaska with her mother, two siblings and a family friend that also had five children. When the children began to squabble, Whitman's mother had the kids run outside as the camper they drove slowly followed. Truckers who saw the sight often stopped to ensure that everything was copasetic. "You could always hear the hiss of the air brakes," said Whitman. "We finally put up a sign on the back of the camper that said, 'We're O.K.'"
After ten years of service at the online auction house eBay, Whitman chose to step down as chief executive in January 2008 and was succeeded by John Donahoe. Speculation began shortly afterwards on whether she would seek public office.
Instead, Whitman worked as a fundraiser for her old boss and friend Mitt Romney in the 2008 presidential race, and then supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)when he garnered the GOP nod. But after the Republicans failed to win the presidency, Whitman turned her attention to California, a state where she has lived and worked in for the past ten years and that was experiencing a major budget crisis.
A former employee and longtime friend of Mitt Romney, Whitman helped run his fundraising efforts when the former governor of Massachusetts was a Republican presidential candidate. She also participated in 2008 presidential nominee Sen. John McCain's fundraising efforts.
Whitman has donated more than $275,000 since 1999. The majority of the money has gone to national Republican committees, political action committees supporting Republican causes and the eBay political fund. She has donated to a few Democratic campaigns, including $1,000 to Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) in 1999 and $2,000 to Rep. Mike Honda (Calif.) in 2002.