The war of words between activist investor Carl Icahn and eBay reached a fever pitch today, eliciting a response from eBay founder and chairman of the board Pierre Omidyar. In a statement posted on eBay's corporate site, Omidyar called Icahn's recent claims about alleged insider trading and other improprieties "false and misleading." Omidyar went on to defend the company's board, as well as John Donahoe, who became the company's chief executive shortly after Meg Whitman resigned in 2007.
"Mr. Icahn's attacks are false and misleading."
In the letter, Omidyar specifically refuted Icahn's claim that eBay board member Marc Andreessen had the inside track to the sale of Skype to an investment group in 2009, saying Andreessen recused himself from any meetings, negotiations, and decisions about the sale. Omidyar also defended fellow board member Scott Cook, who Icahn targeted for remaining on Intuit's board, saying that the two companies are direct competitors in payment processing, and that created a conflict of interest. "The overlap between Intuit and eBay is small for both companies," Omidyar fired back.
Last month, Icahn announced that he had a 0.82 percent stake in eBay, alongside a plan demanding changes to its leadership, and the sale of payments service PayPal. Icahn's pulled similar moves against a number of technology companies over the years, waging shareholder battles with the likes of Apple, Dell, Yahoo, and Motorola. This latest volley against eBay comes ahead of the company's annual shareholders meeting, which is expected to take place in April.