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10 Things You Didn't Know About Meg Whitman

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Whitman gestures at a news conference in San Rafael

Meg Whitman is one of the most famous female business-people in the United States. After all, she is a billionaire who has served as a senior executive for some of the most famous companies in the world, including a stint as the CEO of eBay as well as a stint as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard. However, it is interesting to note that she is a someone with a strong involvement in politics as well, not just in the state of California where she lives but also on the national stage as a figure of some note in the Republican party. As a result, whether people are interested in business or politics, they should consider reading up a little on what she has managed to accomplished so far as well as where she is planning to take things in the future.

Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Meg Whitman:

1. Descended From Politicians

Whitman was born in 1956 to Margaret Cushing and Hendricks Hallett Whitman, Jr. On her father's side, she is descended from not one but two politicians of some note. First, one of her great-great-great grandfathers on her father's side was Elnathan Whitman, who served as a member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly before that region became part of Canada in 1867. Second, one of her great-great-grandfathers on her father's side was Charles B. Farwell, who served as both a U.S. Representative and a Senator from Illinois.

2. Wanted to Be a Doctor

At first, Whitman wanted to become a doctor, which is why she studied math and science at Princeton University in order to build up the right background. However, her interests changed when she spent a summer selling advertisements for a magazine. As a result, Whitman made the transition over to economics when she returned to school after the summer was over.

3. Started Out in Marketing

Upon graduation, Whitman got her start at Procter & Gamble, where she served as a brand manager. For people who are unfamiliar with the term, brand managers are the ones responsible for creating a lasting impression in consumers for the purpose of boosting sales, which explains the brand in brand manager. Later, she moved on to serve as a consultant with the management consulting firm Bain & Company, where she rose through the ranks to become senior vice president before moving on to other opportunities with other businesses.

4. eBay Crashed On Her First Day As eBay CEO

Whitman made her reputation as the CEO of eBay by raising it from a company with 30 employees earning $4 million on an annual basis in 1998 to a company with 15,000 employees earning $8 billion in 2008. It is interesting to note that when she started out, eBay's website was still using Courier font as well as a simple black and white color scheme, meaning that it was a far cry from its much more sophisticated but nonetheless functional appearance in modern times. Even worse, it actually crashed for about eight hours on Whitman's first day as CEO, which would be almost unthinkable nowadays.

5. Was Involved In a $200,000 Incident

In 2007, Whitman was alleged to have shoved a subordinate named Young Mi Kim while preparing for an interview with Reuters, which was resolved with a $200,000 settlement to the satisfaction of both parties. To paraphrase Kim, the incident was unfortunate, but it ended up being resolved in a manner that reflected well on Whitman as well as eBay as a whole. Likewise, Whitman stated something to the effect that what had happened was in the past, as supported by the fact that the two continued to work together at eBay.

6. Cut Connections with Goldman Sachs

Whitman used to have strong connections with Goldman Sachs. For example, she used to be a member of the Board of Directors for Goldman Sachs. Furthermore, she earned about $1.78 million through Goldman Sachs while she was CEO of eBay by using a practice called spinning, which is when investment banks offer under-priced shares in an initial public offering to the senior executives at other companies in exchange for future business. Unsurprisingly, this practice is considered to be ethically questionable, which is why Whitman cut her connections with Goldman Sachs when she ramped up her involvement in politics.

7. Has Been Floundering Since She Headed Over to HP

In January of 2011, Whitman became a member of the Board of Directors for Hewlett-Packard. Later in September of the same year, she became CEO of the beleaguered company. Since that time, Whitman has struggled to bring it back onto solid footing, which has not worked wonders for her reputation with the business community. With that said, considering the scale of changes that had to be made as well as the scale of changes that are still being made, it is important to note that the future remains to be seen.

8. Supported Republican Presidential Nominees Up Until 2016

Whitman was a supporter of Mitt Romney in 2008 before making the switch over to John McCain when the former dropped out of the race and endorsed the latter. In 2012, Whitman supported Romney once again, so much so that her name was actually mentioned as a potential for inclusion in his cabinet if he was elected. However, it is interesting to note that when Whitman's candidate of choice, Chris Christie, dropped out of the race in 2016, she broke ranks with him, refused to endorse Donald Trump, and has instead chosen to endorse Hilary Clinton in spite of their policy differences.

9. Spent $144 Million of Her Personal Funds in a Gubernatorial Run

Presidential elections are not the only elections that have managed to capture Whitman's interest. For example, she actually ran in the 2010 election for governor of California, where she proceeded to spend a reported $144 million of her own personal fortune. However, even though she had spent so much, she lost with 40.9 percent of the vote compared to the Democratic nominee, Jerry Brown's 53.8 percent of the vote.

10. Supports the Environmental Defense Fund

Along with her husband, Whitman has started up a charitable foundation, which was funded by 300,000 shares of eBay stock. It is interesting to note that the foundation has provided much funding to the Environmental Defense Fund, though it should be noted that it has supported other causes as well. For people who are unfamiliar with the Environmental Defense Fund, it is an environmental advocacy group that has often recommended market-based solutions to environmental problems, which is something that has drawn the ire of other environmentalists from time to time.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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