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. Jilli

    Whitmans going with the "full Romney" – trying to buy her way into office. Just think what good could have been done in CA with the $80 million she blew on this PRIMARY.

    June 15, 2010 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  2. philthetruth

    Read about this story carefully as it has likely been taken out of context...

    June 15, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Micetrocarp

    Too bad that she no longer runs eBay. It is a crappy venue to SELL things at this time, due to her leaving it.

    June 15, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. Mark

    If this had been a man who'd done this, his candidacy would be finished as of today.

    June 15, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. The Bearo

    Amazing...CNN waited most of the day yesterday, even hours after the appology of Dem from NC, but they get this up very quickly...also find it amazing that the NY Times still does investigative reporting...oh, that's right, an election is nearing, and this is smearing a Republican...

    June 15, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. Ron in California.

    Ok...so what are the facts??? Whitman should not have laid hands on an employee but we are all human. was it a knock her down shove or just a push. In any case the employee got 200K and most likely a life time job. It has nothing to do with politics or whitmans ability to Govern. Many employees praise her.

    June 15, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  7. Emerson

    What's wrong with a powerful woman shoving someone around to get results? Come on America, have we become so weak and liberal that a boss cannot physically abuse an employee in the name of profits? California needs a tough guy/gal Governor to get it back in shape. Show them how it is done Meg.

    June 15, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. Rosslaw

    This must be one of those businesses whose managment philosophy is defined by the admonition that the beatings will stop only when morale improves.

    June 15, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. "shoving altercation with an employee?"

    I see, and this is your better method for getting results.

    I think the voters should look at the other canidates, I don't think shoving will make California better.

    June 15, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. Willy Brown

    Here comes the dirt digging liberal trolls for the DNC.

    June 15, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. All the news that is fit to omit

    Great job CNN, doing the Democrats bidding as usual by having three ticker stories in a row making up controversy with THREE STRONG CONSERVATIVE WOMEN.

    Hey geniuses, you lefty Carly out, she must not have made a remark about Babs "Maa'm" Boxer today?

    Your network says your down the middle, I have a FINGER down the middle for you hacks.

    June 15, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Pete in Guilford

    Successful business execs know how to grow a business—usually doing whatever it takes to grow and often treating their employees poorly in the process—because the business and taking care of shareholders is job #1. So Tea Partiers and Conservatives, I ask you, won't she GROW the government too if gets to run it? After all, that's her skill.

    June 15, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. JDD

    To its credit, the New York Times includes in its article the statement from Ms. Kim, saying that the alleged incident was "resolved it in a way that speaks well for [Whitman] and for eBay."

    It's a little unclear, however, why the newspaper didn't then shelve the non-story – unless it's trying to move attention away from a more recent YouTube video concerning a Democratic Congressman assaulting a college student.

    June 15, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  14. don

    Will Ms Whitman recieve the same condemnation that Congressman Etheridge did? I doubt it.

    June 15, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. ehwilson429

    ho-hum, no news.

    did jerry brown hang out with the gay population when he was in the seminary?
    wasn't AR-NOLD grabbing females on the job in H-Wood.

    if so leave Whitman alone.

    waht about Wolfie Blitzer and Anderson Vanderbilt Cooper.
    what is their preference?

    June 15, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. NVa Native

    She's perfect for the Repubs; arrogant and selfrighteous people who love to tell other people how they should live.

    June 15, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. cm

    Ok no problem it's a republican, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT,SAY ANYTHING YOU WANT. And above it all you are WHITE.

    God will remember all of those devils!

    June 15, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  18. Anne P CA

    Yes, we've only seen the tip of the iceberg on this woman. She's not good for CA. Stick w/eBay, Meg! We don't need more CEO's who think they can run government.

    June 15, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. steve herrera

    So Smeg Woman let the employee come back and the company paid her $200K – maybe she can shove a Democrat or an underling who doesn't please her. That will bode well for the State of CA.

    June 15, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  20. Monrob

    Sure... $200,000.00 speaks very well, no doubt. On top of that, job security!

    June 15, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  21. Fenarkleman

    There's one for Alzheimer's!

    June 15, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Fenarkleman

    E-Bay? I thought Meg Whitman ran E-Hay, an online site where farm animals can bid for feed. Chickens for chestnuts!

    June 15, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. Jeff

    Who cares! Irrelevant!

    June 15, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. GI Joe

    $200,000 bonus and a high-paying job?

    Uh Oh

    June 15, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. CNN Reader

    This hot head is running for Governor? If she can't keep her cool in a work situation (shoving somebody b/c she felt unprepared for an interview!?), how in the heck can she keep her cool when running the state of California??

    June 15, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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