Webvan CEO Lands New Job

One of the 2,000 employees who lost their jobs when Webvan (Nasdaq: WBVN) shut down last month has found new work, as TRW (NYSE: TRW), a US$17 billion-a-year auto parts and technology concern, named the online grocer’s chief executive officer, Robert Swan, its new chief financial officer.

Swan had been CEO at Webvan for about four months, taking over after George T. Shaheen resigned in April and received a controversial golden parachute worth $375,000 per year for life.

Swan, who is 41 and joined Webvan in 1999 as a vice president, had also served as chief operating officer of the Foster City, California company.

Valuable Lessons

In announcing his appointment, TRW said Swan’s experience with the failed online grocery and urban delivery company, which had been shrinking for nearly a year before shuttering for good on July 9th, will prove valuable.

“In his two years at Webvan, he gained valuable experience with a start-up business and dealing with the external financial community,” said TRW chairman and chief executive officer, David M. Cote.

Cleveland, Ohio-based TRW also noted, however, that the bulk of Swan’s professional career came with various divisions of global powerhouse General Electric (NYSE: GE).

On the Rebound

In his new role, Swan will oversee all domestic and overseas financial details and be responsible for business development.

“His understanding of and experience in finance, operations, and start-ups will serve TRW well as we grow the business,” Cote said.

Swan joins TRW as the company looks to rebound from its own financial troubles. In its second quarter, TRW saw earnings cut in half, due mainly to a recall of seat belts it made for Ford.

The company also makes information systems and recently inked a deal to provide a secure online travel reservation system for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Plenty of Company

After shedding nearly 900 jobs when it closed its Atlanta, Georgia operations, Webvan let another 2,000 go when it shut down.

Most of those, about 1,700 hourly workers, received $900 checks after the shutdown from an anonymous third party.

Webvan has since filed for bankruptcy and been sued by shareholders alleging that details of the company’s 1999 IPO were not properly disclosed to investors.

Earlier this week, a Webvan stock certificate sold in an eBay auction for more than $500, or about 8,000 times the current value of the stock itself.

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