Updated from 11:41 a.m ET to include Carl Icahn comments and additional context throughout.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Carl Icahn is certainly cashing in on eBay's (EBAY) decision to split PayPal from the e-commerce giant, and taking credit for the move, but it was a series of smart decisions by outgoing eBay CEO John Donahoe that set the stage for a successful spinoff. It was Donahoe who put both divisions in a position to now stand alone against the likes of Amazon (AMZN) , Alibaba (BABA) , Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) .
Carl Icahn took to his blog to express his favor of eBay's PayPal split, noting that "eBay's board and management have acted responsibly concerning the separation -- perhaps a little later than they should have, but earlier than we expected." However, investors shouldn't discount Donahoe's hand in building eBay and PayPal.
Donahoe, a long-time Bain & Company executive, joined eBay in 2005 to turn the company's Marketplace business around. Within three years, he doubled eBay's Marketplace revenue and profits and led a series of smart acquisitions highlighted by the $310 million purchase of StubHub in 2007.
When the financial crisis struck, Donahoe took the reins of eBay in March of 2008 and within a few months he made a series of decisive moves. That October, as financial markets melted down, Donahoe decided to lay off 10% of eBay's workforce and buy Bill Me Later from a handful of venture investors including Amazon for $820 million. The latter move, made when many tech companies might have eschewed financial services and credit-based businesses, is now a key piece of PayPal as it prepares to go at it alone.