Activist advisor Carl Icahn just released a follow-up letter to his initial shred of eBay’s board of directors, and he once again calls out board member Marc Andreessen — accusing him of costing eBay shareholders $US4 billion for his own personal profit.
Andreessen is a founder of the influential Silicon Valley venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz, which has backed Facebook, Foursquare, GitHub, Pinterest and Twitter.
In response to Icahn’s first letter, eBay said that Icahn had “cherry-picked old news clips” about Andreessen’s investments in Skype and Kynetic to question his loyalty to Ebay.Icahn’s theory is that Andreessen bought Skype from eBay cheaply while he was a board member, when Skype would have fetched much more on the open market.
Icahn not only reiterated his claims that Andreessen’s actions have cost eBay shareholders billions of dollars, but insisted that “corporate governance failures do not have a shelf life.” (We reached out to Andreessen but he did not respond to a request for comment.)
“The simple and, to us, disturbing fact is that eBay sold a controlling stake in Skype to a sitting board member (Mr. Andreessen) and Silver Lake, for about $US1.9 billion. A mere 18 months later, that board member sold Skype to Microsoft for $US8.5 billion,(4) thereby netting a $US4 billion gain for himself and Silver Lake that should have accrued to eBay stockholders. Whether this occurred 2, 5 or 10 years ago is irrelevant, especially when that board member is still on the board! The phenomenal payday for Mr. Andreessen and Silver Lake raises serious red flags. It is therefore particularly galling that management continues to hold this transaction out as an example of the board acting “objectively.”(5) Further, from where we sit, the fact that a similar set of circumstances happened again in the case of Mr. Andreessen’s investment in Kynetic, which netted $US150 million in paper profits for Mr. Andreessen,(6,7,8) shows a troubling pattern at eBay.”