Is Meg Whitman the entrepreneur behind eBay like McCain says?

During last night’s debate, when asked whom he would pick as Treasury secretary, John McCain said he might consider Meg Whitman and said she had turned eBay into a livelihood for 1.3 million people in America.  But there are a few things he left out and glossed over…

During last night’s debate, when asked whom he would pick as Treasury secretary, John McCain said “Meg Whitman was CEO of a company that started with 12 people and is now 1.3 million people in America make their living off eBay.”  Whitman is current co-chair of McCain’s national committee, though she originally supported Romeny (she used to work at Bain & Co.).  Apparently, she’s also thinking of running for governor of California in 2010.

By most accounts, Whitman is a competent, hardworking executive.  The marketing skills and experience she brought to eBay certainly helped the company navigate the tech-wreck successfully.

The thing is, McCain made it sound like she founded eBay and was single-handedly responsible for kick-starting 1.3 million careers, and that’s a bit misleading.

Whitman started at eBay in 1998.  By then, eBay had been going for three years and had 500,000 customers, 30 employees, over $100 million in sales, $4.7 million in revenue and was well on its way to becoming one of the bigger e-commerce players.  eBay went public the same year Whitman was hired.  Other Silicon Valley companies brought in experienced executives from outside the firm to serve as CEO when contemplating a public-offering (in some cases, VCs demanded this).

The person who founded eBay is Pierre Omidyar.  He was the creative mind behind eBay’s birth and the entrepreneur whose vision built it into what it is.

By the way, Pierre currently runs Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm and has endowed a microfinance fund at Tufts.  He’s also reputed to be a nice guy.

You know what’s coming…

Pierre Omidyar endorsed Barack Obama back in March and it’s worth reading why.

In fact, there are a lot of creative capitalists rooting for Obama. Enjoy the rest of your day!