NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Carl Icahn and eBay (EBAY) continued to trade barbs on Thursday, with the investor once again challenging the integrity of certain eBay directors while the company's founders and chairman came to their defense.
Icahn, who is pushing for eBay to spin off its PayPal unit, on Tuesday sent a letter to shareholders accusing eBay directors Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook of putting their personal financial interests ahead of shareholders. The investor, owner of 2% of eBay shares, also said that eBay CEO John Donahoe is "completely asleep" or "either naive or willingly blind to lapses by the board."
EBay in a response released Wednesday afternoon said "Carl Icahn doesn't let the truth get in the way of a good story," adding that Icahn "seems to be deliberately disseminating claims that are dead wrong."
Icahn returned with a new missive Thursday morning, with the investor accusing Donahoe, Andreessen and Cook of hiding behind "eBay's public relations machine" and inviting company officials to join him for a televised debate. Icahn repeated his accusation that Andreessen acted inappropriately when his venture fund participated in the purchase of Skype Technologies from eBay, only to flip it to Microsoft (MSFT) 18 months later for a substantial gain.
But Icahn seemingly sidestepped eBay's defense of the noted venture capitalist, declaring that "Andreessen's group profited by about $4 billion in only a year and a half." EBay had noted that Andreessen's fund took just a 3% stake in Skype while eBay retained a 30% stake, noting that the company captured significantly more of the gain from the flip than Andreessen did.