Meg Whitman, eBay's Retiring Chairwoman, May Jump Into Politics

Jan 28, 2008 (11:01 AM EST)

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You've just had a brilliant corporate career, Meg Whitman, building up eBay into the top auction site on the Web. What are you going to do now?

No, you're not going to Disneyland, but maybe you could go to the governor's mansion in Sacramento. The Los Angeles Times reported that Whitman has been considering a new career in politics and has been testing the waters for a possible run for the governorship of California. After a decade running eBay and making it a resounding success, she has been approached by influential Republicans about making a run for the post, according to the newspaper.

Whitman worked at Bain & Co. with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and lately is said to have become fascinated with politics while fund raising for Romney; she recently registered as a Republican and the move could clear the way for a political run. The governor's post will be up for grabs in 2010 when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves the post.

The Valleywag blog, however, said Whitman has told colleagues at eBay that she won't run for governor. Then the blog started a rumor of its own -- that Whitman would be happy to be a Cabinet secretary in a Romney administration.

Whitman, who plans to leave her chairwoman's post at eBay in March, wouldn't likely have a serious problem funding a political race -- she has a net worth of $1.4 billion, accumulated during her successful stewardship of eBay. The company had less then three dozen employees when she took the helm 10 years ago; eBay now has 15,000 employees.

If she decides to run, Whitman could duke it out with another former prominent California computer executive -- Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard's ex-chief. Fiorina is also said to be interested in pursuing a political or public service career. Fiorina is supporting Republican John McCain and has appeared with the senator from Arizona on economic panels.