EBay Names Walmart E-Commerce Executive Jamie Iannone as CEO

(Bloomberg) -- EBay Inc. named Walmart Inc. e-commerce executive Jamie Iannone as chief executive officer, bringing in a manager with outside digital experience as the online marketplace seeks to placate the demands of activist investors.

Iannone, most recently operating chief of Walmart eCommerce in the U.S., will take up the CEO position at EBay on April 27, the company said in a statement Monday. Iannone previously ran the e-commerce unit of Walmart unit Sam’s Club, and worked at EBay as a vice president and in other roles from 2001 to 2009.

Years of stagnant sales growth have diminished EBay’s position in an online commerce market that’s dominated in the U.S. by Amazon.com Inc. Activist investors Elliott Management Corp. and Starboard Value last year began pushing for changes at EBay, which resulted in two new directors being appointed to the board. The company has since sold ticket-resale site StubHub for $4.05 billion, and is in the midst of evaluating offers for its classified ads business.

Devin Wenig, who clashed with the activists as chief executive officer, was also ousted in September after failing to expand the marketplace platform and opposing the sale of businesses.

Despite the changes, Starboard nominated four directors to EBay’s board last month, and said it was critical the board look outside of the company for its next CEO. A representative for Starboard could not be reached for comment.

Jesse Cohn, Elliott partner and board member at EBay, called the appointment of Iannone a “huge positive” for the company. He said in addition to the other steps, the company is expanding its profitability and accelerating its capital return.

“The board concluded that Jamie’s combination of experience and vision for EBay is uniquely compelling. Today, even in these extraordinarily difficult times, EBay has strong momentum in the business and is executing well,” he said in an emailed statement. “It has been a busy year, and we are on track with the steps needed to improve the business and realize full value for shareholders.”

Iannone joined Walmart in 2014 and quickly rose up the ranks at the Sam’s Club wholesale unit, eventually running its website along with its marketing and membership departments. While there, he rolled out a cashier-less mobile-checkout system called Scan & Go, simplified Sam’s membership levels and expanded online sales through initiatives like in-store pickup.

Those efforts led to his appointment earlier this year as second-in-command at Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce unit, under CEO Marc Lore. Before joining Walmart, Iannone spent four years leading Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook electronic-book business. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Iannone’s background and experience may indicate that EBay is looking to invest more in buyer experiences and services for small businesses, according to Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. “This could include some form of loyalty or membership program on the buyer side, and logistics services on the seller side,” Sebastian wrote in a note on Monday.

EBay shares, which have declined 3.7% so far this year, rose 2.8% to $34.76 on Monday in New York.

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