Scott Thompson's abrupt departure as PayPal's president leaves PayPal in the hands of a team of competent executives, but raises the question of who among them, if any, will be tapped to fill his role.
Thompson, who left the Web-focused payments provider in January to become chief executive of Yahoo Inc., helped transform the eBay Inc. unit into a player in mobile and point of sale payments.
After a top executive quits, many companies would dodge the question of how they would proceed until a successor has been chosen. But John Donahoe, eBay's chief executive and the interim president of PayPal, was not shy this week about naming names.
"We have a strong bench of management talent, and we won't skip a beat as we manage the transition at PayPal," Donahoe said in an earnings conference call with analysts Wednesday.
He singled out Ranjana Clark, PayPal's chief customer and marketing officer; Rupert Keeley, PayPal's senior vice president of Asia Pacific; Don Kingsborough, PayPal's vice president of retail and prepaid products; and David Marcus, PayPal's vice president of mobile.
The next day, a PayPal spokeswoman added some other noteworthy names, including Ed Eger, PayPal's senior vice president and general manager of North America for core payments and emerging markets; Gary Marino, PayPal's senior vice president of global financial service; and Sam Shrauger, PayPal's vice president of global product and experience.
"One of the attributes everyone has had on our management team: we are inventors and disruptors," Marino said in an interview with American Banker.
Assuming PayPal hires from within, Kingsborough and Marino are the leading candidates to replace Thompson, some analysts say. They have the necessary depth of experience as entrepreneurs and technologists, as well as strong experience in the traditional payments world.
"For [president] of PayPal, you need someone who has a deep understanding of technology," says Gwenn Bezard, co-founder and research director at Aite Group. "It is so critical to what PayPal is and to the psyche of people at PayPal."
Here's a look at the candidates:
RANJANA CLARK: Clark, the sole woman on the team, brings 26 years' experience in the banking and payments world. American Banker has named her twice in its annual reviews of the 25 most powerful women in banking and nonbanking finance. Before joining PayPal she held a dual role at Western Union Co., overseeing its global payments business as well as global strategy.
Clark spent two decades at Wachovia Corp., where she held positions including chief marketing officer, head of the treasury services division, head of strategic planning and head of capital markets strategic development.
"Ranjana was highly thought of and regarded at Western Union, and she is supposed to have a fairly deep knowledge of payments," says Beth Robertson, director of payments research for Javelin Strategy and Research.
ED EGER: Eger, who oversees PayPal's largest business unit, hails from Citigroup, where he was chief executive of the New York company's international consumer credit card business, which serves 50 countries and more than 40 million customers. He was also executive vice president of Citi Cards North America and the regional head of payment products for Citi's Asia-Pacific region.
Eger also held executive roles at the former Advanta, Fleet Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and Wells Fargo.
RUPERT KEELEY: Keeley, who has more than three decades of banking and payments experience, spent 11 years at Visa Inc., where he was last Visa's group executive and president of the Asia Pacific, central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He also has held senior management positions with Standard Chartered PLC.
DON KINGSBOROUGH: Kingsborough is perhaps best remembered as a veteran of the toy industry. He was founder and chief executive of Worlds of Wonder Inc., the company that made the Teddy Ruxpin toy.
Kingsborough was most recently CEO of the gift card services provider Blackhawk Network Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif. Blackhawk is now a unit of Safeway Inc.
"In some respects, Blackhawk is in a similar situation to PayPal, though PayPal is a much larger piece of the revenue for eBay than Blackhawk has of Safeway," says Bezard.
Kingsborough has many of the necessary qualifications, says Paul Grill, partner at First Annapolis Consulting Inc. "He has a good knowledge of the retail point of sale environment …which would be very relevant to PayPal's moving to the physical world."
DAVID MARCUS: Marcus founded Zong, bought by PayPal in August. Zong lets consumers charge purchases to their mobile phone numbers. Marcus is a serial entrepreneur in the payments world.
GARY MARINO: Marino founded Bill Me Later Inc., which PayPal acquired in 2008 to replace its own Pay Later service. Bill Me Later provides instant credit to consumers for one-time purchases. PayPal plans to use Bill Me Later to provide float to users of its new system for point of sale purchases.
Marino has spent years in banking, at Bank One's card unit before it was acquired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. He was Bank One's chief credit and chief marketing officer simultaneously. He also held various executive positions with Citi's North American and European bankcard divisions, including chief credit officer.
SAM SHRAUGER: Shrauger helped launch PayPal's system for purchasing digital goods within computer games and helped lead the integration of Bill Me Later. He was previously a product manager and consultant for Agency.com, VerticalNet, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Quantum Consulting.
Neither Marino nor PayPal would comment on possible replacements for Thompson. Kingsborough could not be reached by deadline.