Meg Whitman was all smiles when Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster revealed in an interview that he still trusted eBay "to take the high road."
Internal emails between eBay executive Garrett Price and then-CEO Meg Whitman do not paint a flattering picture of either in the continuing trial over a lawsuit between eBay and Craigslist now taking place in Delaware.
Price forwarded to Whitman a Fortune interview in which Buckmaster told a reporter "our first instinct is to trust eBay to take the high road" in response to a question about whether eBay's minority stake in Craigslist and its completive online classifieds site Kijiji posed a conflict of interest.
Buckmaster said that a verbal agreement between Whitman and Craigslist principals was for the two companies to part ways amicably if the business relationship didn't work out, though Whitman made clear on the stand that her intention was to own Craigslist outright all along.
Whitman responded via email on July 25, 2007 that she did see the article, and found it "pretty funny." Price replied, "Yes, I am glad to read that he trusts us," to which Whitman responded again, "Love this. :)"
Earlier in the trial, Craigslist co-founder Craig Newmark said that he had his suspicions about eBay, but kept them to himself. But neither Buckmaster nor Newmark actually complained directly to Whitman after the launch of Kijiji.
Maybe because they were warned about the "monster," "Evil Meg," by Price, as Buckmaster has said?
Price denied making such comments about his then-boss in a public statement.
However, if you believe the "Evil Meg" story, feel free to read Whitman's email emoticon as less of a smile and more of a cackle.
It's not clear how this might harm -- or help -- Whitman, currently running for governor of California, in her campaign. Frankly, it's a better indication of her felicity with realpolitik than anything she's said on the stump about her time at eBay.
Jackson West admits that Buckmaster and Newmark were naive to trust Whitman, but still, no need to rub it in, eBay.