“In the past few weeks it became clear that I was not on the same page as my new Board,” Wenig said Wednesday in a posting on Twitter. “Whenever that happens, its best for everyone to turn that page over. It has been an incredible privilege to lead one of the worlds great businesses for the past 8 years.”
He did not elaborate on the differences.
Thomas Tierney, the board chairman, praised Wenig as a “tireless advocate for driving improvement” in a statement. “Indeed, eBay is stronger today than it was four years ago. Notwithstanding this progress, given a number of considerations, both Devin and the Board believe that a new CEO is best for the Company at this time.”
EBay was founded in 1995 as a snail-mail business before evolving into a pioneer of e-commerce. But the company struggled to maintain its dominance amid rising competition, particularly from Amazon, despite efforts to revamp its image and modernize. Its shares were down more than 2.3 percent Wednesday after Wenig’s departure was announced.
As Amazon expanded its behemoth third-party platform, which now makes up the bulk of Amazon’s retail sales, eBay has languished; Amazon’s 2018 revenue in North America was 13 times eBay’s total revenue. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
In October, eBay sued Amazon, accusing it of poaching its sellers as “part of a larger pattern of aggressive, unscrupulous conduct.” The suit was eventually sent to arbitration.
In January, activist investors at Elliot Management sent eBay’s board a letter criticizing the company’s poor performance, compared with its peers and outlining a plan to usher eBay into a new era of profitability. The letter called for a review of its assets and “increasing operational efficiency,” among other recommendations, and stressed that leadership would be key in enacting changes.
In March, eBay said it would undergo restructuring, lay off some employees and begin a “strategic review” of assets, including online ticket marketplace StubHub and eBay Classifieds Group. The review will continue with assistance from Goldman Sachs, the company said in a news release.
Schenkel, the interim chief executive, is a former General Electric executive who oversaw eBay Marketplace for several years before being named chief financial officer in 2015.
“During his 12 years at eBay, Scott has demonstrated that he is a strong and dynamic leader who knows our business inside and out,” Tierney, the board chairman, said in a statement. “He has worked closely with our teams across the Company to execute our strategy. We are confident that Scott’s experience at eBay positions him well to lead the Company during this time.”
Andy Cring, eBay’s vice president of global financial planning, will step in as interim chief financial officer.
During his tenure as chief executive, Wenig spearheaded efforts to modernize eBay and court younger shoppers, including a site redesign and the implementation of artificial intelligence for shopper insights. But some attempts to refashion eBay made it less appealing to core users, while failing to change public perception of the company as an auctioning platform, first and foremost.
“They’re trying to please two user bases at once: they want a more modern experience, which has been helpful for new users ... but for the core user base, people who know how to operate the site and find deals that they want, it’s been very hard to sell this change to them,” said Ygal Arounian, an e-commerce analyst with Wedbush Securities.
On Twitter, Wenig praised eBay as a pioneer of responsible big tech.
“EBay is an example of why we shouldn’t give up on big tech companies,” he tweeted. “It stands for economic democracy, and has a culture and community that are examples of how technology can enable, empower and bring us together. … I will always, always be in eBay’s corner."