Whitman was an executive in The Walt Disney Company, where she was vice president of Strategic Planning throughout the 1980s. In the 1990s, she was an executive for DreamWorks, Procter & Gamble, and Hasbro. Whitman was president and CEO of eBay from 1998 to 2008. During Whitman's 10 years with the company, she oversaw its expansion from 30 employees and $4 million in annual revenue, to more than 15,000 employees and $8 billion in annual revenue. In 2014, Whitman was named 20th in ''Forbes'' List of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World.
In 2008, Whitman was cited by ''The New York Times'' as among the women most likely to become the first female president of the United States. She ran for Governor of California in 2010. She won the Republican primary. The fifth-wealthiest woman in California with a net worth of $1.3 billion in 2010, she spent more of her own money on the race than any other political candidate spent on a single election in American history, spending $144 million of her own fortune and $178.5 million in total, including money from donors. Whitman was defeated by Democratic former Governor Jerry Brown in the 2010 California gubernatorial election by 54% to 41%.