Activist investor Carl Icahn has been getting more aggressive with his proposal that eBay spin off PayPal as its own company, issuing open letters over the past few days attacking board members Scott Cook and Marc Andreessen, as well as CEO John Donahoe.
Now founder and chairman Pierre Omidyar has responded in a statement posted on the eBay site. (The company responded earlier to Icahn’s criticisms, suggesting that he “cherry-picked old news clips and anecdotes out of context to attack the integrity of two of the most respected, accomplished and value-driven technology leaders in Silicon Valley.” Icahn in turn said that Donahoe, Andreessen, and Cook were hiding behind “eBay’s public relations machine.”)
Omidyar’s statement begins by acknowledging Icahn’s proposal, saying it’s “not a new idea,” but rather “a question our board has asked ourselves as we periodically evaluate strategic options for the company.” However, he said that for now, the board has decided “PayPal and eBay are better together,” though it could decide otherwise in the future.
As for the accusations that Cook and Andreessen’s involvement in the board represent a conflict of interest (Cook because he’s the founder and chairman of the executive committee at Intuit, Andreessen because of various investments), Omidyar wrote, “Scott and Marc are world-class directors with impeccable credentials. They have my full support.”
Omidyar also described claims Icahn made about Andreessen and Cook as “unfounded” and pointed to eBay’s previous responses to the specifics of Icahn’s letters. (For example, he said that Andreessen recused himself from all discussions and decisions around eBay decision to divest from Skype, and that “The overlap between Intuit and eBay is small for both companies.”)
Omidyar also defended Donahoe, writing, “John Donahoe has my full support, and the strong support of our board.”
You can read the full statement here.