June 15th, 2010
09:35 AM ET
13 years ago

Whitman camp defends shoving incident

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/15/art.whitman.gi.jpg caption =" A New York Times report alleges the Republican was involved in a 2007 shoving altercation."](CNN) – Meg Whitman's campaign is defending the California gubernatorial candidate following a New York Times report alleging the Republican was involved in a 2007 shoving altercation with an employee while then serving as CEO of the auction website eBay.

"Meg is a serious, results-focused boss. A verbal dispute in a high-pressure working environment isn't out of the ordinary," Whitman campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said in a statement provided to CNN. "Meg's record of accomplishment in business, including her success at leading eBay from a 30-employee startup to a Fortune 500 company, speaks for itself."

The statement comes on the heels of a New York Times report published Monday night that alleges Whitman shoved an employee at eBay's California headquarters after the Silicon Valley chief felt unprepared for an upcoming media interview.

Citing anonymous sources, the Times report says the employee, identified as Young Mi Kim, threatened a lawsuit against the company but ultimately settled through a private mediator for around $200,000.

Kim remains employed at eBay, now holding a high level position in its communications department. But she left the company for four months after the June 2007 altercation, according to the paper.

In a statement to the Times, Kim called the incident "unfortunate" but said it was "resolved it in a way that speaks well for [Whitman] and for eBay."

"And ultimately, I came back to the company, which is not something I had to do," Kim added.

The company would not respond further to the report.

Whitman, who stepped down from eBay in January 2008, has long touted her decisive leadership style in her bid to run the largest economy of any state and the eighth largest economy in the world.

"She has this ability to come to a very confusing situation, take a look, and figure out what the right thing to do is," one eBay employee says in a campaign commercial Whitman launched last winter.

"She makes people feel heard and makes them feel valued, but ultimately she is still going to make the right decision," another employee says in the same ad.

Whitman joined eBay in 1998, then a company of only three dozen employees with annual revenues of less than $5 million, according to her campaign website. When she left the online auction house a decade later, eBay employed more than 15,000 employees with an annual revenue of $8 billion. Whitman received several accolades during her tenure at eBay, including earning a spot on Fortune Magazine’s “Best Bosses” list in 2007. She was also ranked among the top ten CEOs of the last decade by the Harvard Business Review.

But Whitman also left the company as its stock price reeled amid increased competition and a poorly received 2005 acquisition of the Internet calling service Skype, which was sold by eBay after Whitman's departure for several hundred million dollars less than it paid for the company.

Whitman won the California GOP gubernatorial primary last week in what became the most expensive campaign in California history. Whitman spent over $80 million of her own money in the primary matchup against state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, also a former Silicon Valley CEO. Poizner himself spent about $25 million of his own funds.

Whitman now faces state Attorney General and former California Gov. Jerry Brown in the general election.

Filed under: California • Meg Whitman • Popular Posts
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Tom C

    Ok, just typical answer to a problem. Throw enough money at it and it will go away. She bought her way out of a lawsuit. My fear of Whitman is that she is always going to side with large corporations and give them more taxbreaks than ever.

    June 15, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. Steve (the real one)

    Wrong is wrong but three years ago? Ms Kim didn't sue. Smells like deflection to me. Three years ago! The Dem from NC got busted THIS WEEK! BUT wrong is wrong!I

    June 15, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Angus McDugan

    Maybe Obama can use her since we all know that Obama is too weak to "kick someone's arse." She appears to be tougher than Obama.

    June 15, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Rooney

    This is ridiculous and certainly not news worthy.
    Just another case of sue happy America .
    $ 200 000.00 for a shove , that was exploitation not justice.

    June 15, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. Rumsfeld

    So she can make tough decisions and move groups in a single direction. Good for her. Taking advantage of that time in the technological and economic era and generating profit. Fabulous. Using bullying and abusive tactics to get there. Unacceptable. Watching this campaign as it approaches election day. Eye-opening.

    June 15, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    Ah, yes. Yet ANOTHER republican MamaGrizzly showing off her conservative values!

    Meg Whitman. Poster child for buying into (and out of) whatever strokes her fancy.

    June 15, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Debbie

    1. Note it is Whitman's campaign vs Whitman herself making this statement. She should take personal responsibility.
    2. You cannot "defend" pushing/shoving in the workplace nor can you make statements that is is common in high stress companies.
    3. Whitman claims CA needs an outside business person to lead CA. Yet it was an outside business person in Swartzenegger who has been a mass failure in CA
    4. It was "business" that tanked CA not government. It was the slimey sub-mortgage business, the banks, the businesses who "outsource CA jobs" or bring in H1-B visa "anchor" immigrants.
    5. Whitman is a CEO without a job. Why? Because she leaves companies, stock, and boards of directors in worse shape than when she went in.

    CA doesn't need more abuse by business or Whitman! CA needs to crack down on business abuse, leadership, and someone to govern not abuse people.

    June 15, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. Simon/Orlando

    Big Deal. Like she was really going tom hurt someone.

    June 15, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. KMAN821

    Let's be fair to Whitman ... since she is a Republican, this is a non-issue. However, if she changes party affiliation ... then will be the time to "smear" her.

    June 15, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Dale

    Was it like an Elaine Benes shove?

    June 15, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. MC

    Great job CNN! Find an 'equivalent' distraction away from Congressman Etheridge.
    You have done well, good and faithful servant. Now pony up a few more PAC monies for the DNC candidates and we can all get back to business as usual.

    June 15, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. beth

    So I guess Meg Whitman is a proponent of BULLYING, something we are trying to educate our children not to do. Thanks for the help Meg. I'm sure all of our school employees will just love the message.

    June 15, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. u do the math

    bottom line is take a look at history and see what partys policies worked best and make your choice!

    June 15, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Jack

    The Democrats are desperate...looking for anything.

    June 15, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. Bill

    So let me get this straight, CNN.

    Wow , riveting news. Why would this possible be on the ticker, but then I remember how poised you are to offer coverage of any liberal patehtic attempt at moral equivilancy whenever something gets embarrasing

    So, after yesterday was consumed with a national embarrasment of you tube video showing the NC Democrat on camera grabbing of the arm and neck of a student asking the remarkably provocative questions of "do you agree with the Obama administration" until he had to plead with him to please let go of him. I see you got the call this morning fform someone "hey, we need something involving any type of presumed physical confontation with a Republican, asap"

    "Whats that?, all you got is a female ceo 4 yrs ago ellegedly pushing an fellow executive who was not doing his job. Hmm, no video, no proof, everyones fine, guys OK. Well, if that all you have, lets run it.


    June 15, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. Jim

    Amazing how this is getting play at CNN but a sitting SC Democrat politician is found on camera assaulting a college student is virtually iggnored by this same "news" company. And they wonder why no one trusts them! lol

    June 15, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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