In the first three quarters of 2019, a shocking 1,160 CEOs have been replaced in major companies across America. This is an incredibly high number. It’s an even higher number than the Great Recession of 2008.
So 2019 will go down in history for being one of the most tumultuous years for business leadership. Of course, there must be a lot of drama in the boardroom. Here are the top 30 companies whose CEOs were replaced in 2019.
30.Carl Liebert of AutoNation
AutoNation is a national car retailer with 360 locations across the United States that brings in billions of dollars in sales. In 2019, Carl Liebert spent just 4 months working at AutoNation before the company decided they no longer wanted him as their CEO. Even though he was only there for a few months, Liebert leaves with a $3.75 million severance package.
The new CEO of AutoNation is Cheryl Miller, who was the former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the company. Now that this switch has happened, Miller has now gone down in history as being the first female CEO of an automotive company. When asked for a reason why Liebert was replaced, the response was that he was simply “not a good fit.” Sure, a lot of us have not been a good fit for a job, but most of us don’t get to leave with nearly $4 million.
Blue Apron is a subscription-based food company that specializes in sending customers boxes of food, ingredients, and recipes. They make it easy for people without a lot of culinary experience to make a home-cooked meal. Over the past few years, Blue Apron has worked together with influencers to spread brand awareness. However, this doesn’t seem to be enough to keep the company profitable. Blue Apron is struggling amidst all other similar meal kit companies out there. Amazon decided to come out with their own meal kit service, causing Blue Apron to lose 24% of their customers in the past year.
Amidst all of these lost profits, Brad Dickerson chose to resign as the CEO of Blue Apron. Linda Findley Kozlowski, a former executive from Etsy, became the new CEO. After this announcement, their stock price jumped up 7.3% in just one day. Apparently, investors believe that this was a good choice. It may help the company move in a better direction.
Nearly everyone has visited Bed, Bath, & Beyond for their home products, and they have become famous for their 20% off coupons. In May of 2019, Bed, Bath, & Beyond announced that Steven Temares would no longer be CEO and that the change must become “effective immediately”, after several high-stakes investors petitions for him to leave. He was no longer allowed to stay on the board either.
One of the board members, Mary Winston, stepped up to become the temporary CEO while the company searches for a permanent replacement. Winston has been the Chief Financial Officer of Scholastic and Family Dollar, so she’s no stranger to life as an executive. The stock had been down 6%, but after the announcement that Temares was leaving, it jumped up 3%. Hopefully the company is going in the right direction.
Back in 2012, Best Buy was struggling amidst a struggling economy and dozens of other competitive retail chains selling electronics. When Hubert Joly became the CEO, Best Buy began to turn around. Sales went up and he was seen as the hero of the company. Seven years later, Joly has decided that he would rather give up his duties as the CEO and transition into a new position of “executive chairman.”
The new CEO is Corie Barry, who has also been working as an executive at Best Buy for years. On their website, they explain that Best Buy wants to go in a new direction in order to “reconnect with their customers” and give employees better benefits. They’ll also work on green initiatives with sustainability.
Burlington Stores was formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, which was founded in New Jersey in 1972. Now, they are all over the United States and Puerto Rico. After a lot of growth and private acquisitions, the company went public again in 2013. Thomas Kingsbury had been the CEO of Burlington since 2009, so by 2019, he was in the position for an impressive 10 years. Michael O’Sullivan became the new CEO in September. He was formerly the CEO of Ross, so he has plenty of experience in the world of clothing retail.
Unlike some of the other stories on this list, this changing of the guard has nothing to do with falling profits. In fact, Burlington seems to be doing just fine. O’Sullivan was quoted saying, “Given our tremendous progress and the strong foundation we have established, the Board and I believe now is the right time to transition to new leadership.”
After spending 17 years as the CEO of Boingo Wireless, Dave Hagan announced that he was stepping down in February of 2019. He is choosing to stay a member of the board, and passing the baton to another executive named Mike Finley.
Bringing on Finley as the new CEO was a unanimous vote, because they trust his experience working with the company for so many years. The company is trying to transition to using 5G technology, so Rozenzweig has his hands full trying to bring Boingo Wireless up to faster speeds.
Sheila Lirio Marcelo is the founder of Care’s website, and she has been the company’s CEO since they first launched in 2007. The website connects caregivers like babysitters, nannies, and elder care professionals with people who need that help. They provide background checks, and allow caregivers to make profiles to match with their clients.
In 2019, shares dropped 24% in value after a study revealed that their vetting process was not as great as the site claimed it to be. People were no longer sure if they could trust hiring people form the site. This massive loss was enough for Sheila Lirio Marcelo to resign from her position of CEO. She still wants to stay with the company as an executive chairwoman.
Colgate Palmolive should be a familiar name to everyone since it is one of the largest toothpaste and household cleaning brands in the entire world. Way back in 1976, Ian Cook began working for Colgate in the UK. He moved to the United States to become the CEO and served for 12 years.
Since 2018, Colgate Palmolive stock price has dropped 15% over the course of the year. While this isn’t exactly catastrophic, it is still a sign that the company may need to make some changes. In February of 2019, it was announced that Cook was stepping down, and that Noel Wallace would transition from his position of Chief Operating Officer to CEO.
When it comes to online retailers, eBay is one of the biggest powerhouses. They started out as an online auction site back in 1995. Now, the site has transitioned to encouraging more “buy it now” transactions, free returns, and top-notch customer service from their sellers in order to keep up with Amazon. In September of 2019, it was announced that Devin Wenig was no longer going to be the CEO of the company after 12 years. Scott Schenkel, who was already CFO of eBay, stepped up to become the interim CEO while they figure out who to pick for the position permanently.
In their press release, eBay didn’t give any hint that there was anything wrong. They said, “eBay is stronger today than it was four years ago. Notwithstanding this progress, given a number of considerations, both Devin and the board believe that a new CEO is best for the company at this time.” But according to investors of eBay, Elliott Management, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. They said, “Today eBay suffers from an inefficient organizational structure, wasteful spend and a misallocation of resources.” Obviously, eBay would rather keep any drama quiet, for fear that it might drop stock prices.
Landmark Theaters is a chain of movie complexes in Los Angeles. The company was sold to Cohen Media Group in 2019. Just a few months after the merger, Ted Mundorf stepped down from his position as CEO after years of holding the position.
The company was not prepared with a replacement CEO, and the company chose to keep things private because they did not release a statement as to why this change happened. However, if you read between the lines, it may be that Ted Mundorff did not get along well with new owner Charles Cohen.
In November of 2018, David’s Bridal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They are clearly struggling and trying their best to make changes that they believe will bring the company back to its former glory. In March of 2019, CEO Scott Key and CFO Joan Hilson both left their positions at the same time. They gave the seat of interim CEO to Tom Lynch, who is the former CEO of Frederick’s of Hollywood, before choosing James Marcum to take the permanent seat in July.
Now, David’s Bridal has a campaign where they are trying to showcase “real brides” instead of using traditional models. They are also trying to make it easier for customers to return their dresses since it was an issue in the past. Only time will tell if these changes can help the company recover from their financial difficulties.
Hewlett Packard, better known as “HP,” is an information technology company located in Palo Alto, California. With HP a household name, a spotlight is shone on the CEO of the corporation. In August of 2019, Dion Weisler announced that he must step down as CEO, “due to a family health matter.” Weisler has been CEO since 2015. Even though he is giving up his executive position, he’s still going to stay as a director on the company board. In the three years that Weisler was the CEO, stock prices went from $12 to $19. After this announcement that he was stepping down, HP’s stocks dropped 5%.
Enrique Lores officially became the new CEO on November 1, 2019. He has been one of HP’s executives for several years, and already knows the company inside and out. Since this is an internal hire, the effect on the company shouldn’t be very drastic.
According to the CDC, 33 people have now died from vaping-related illnesses in 2019. These deaths mostly link back to people who were vaping flavored cartridges that contained vitamin E oil. When oil coats the lungs, people can no longer breathe. The real danger comes from people buying their vape cartridges from independent dealers who are essentially watering down, (or in this case, “oiling down” the product) and disguising it as a genuine name-brand cartridge. Even though large companies hire chemists to create their products, and they are not the ones to blame for this crisis, people are now afraid to vape anything.
President Donald Trump put a nation-wide ban on the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes. It should be no surprise, then, that the vaping company Juul has taken a huge hit with their sales. Originally, they became popular in the peak of the vaping craze among people who were trying to cut down on cigarettes. Kevin Burns announced that he would step down as the CEO of Juul. His replacement is KC Crosthwaite, who has worked with tobacco company Altria for years.
In March of 2019, Congress scrutinized Wells Fargo amidst several new scandals. The name of the hearing was “Holding Megabanks Accountable: An Examination of Wells Fargo’s Pattern of Consumer Abuses.” Yikes. After answering the questions from the House Financial Services Committee, CEO of Wells Fargo Tim Sloan abruptly decided to step down from the company and begin his retirement.
This was not the first time that a scandal has forced the CEO of Wells Fargo to leave. Back in 2016, John Stumpf had to step down from his position after the bank was caught creating fake customer accounts. Apparently, they did not learn their lesson. Wells Fargo general counsel, C. Allen Parker, replaced Tim Sloan as the new CEO in July.
Geisha Williams became the CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. (PG&E) in 2017. Financial analysts blame Williams for the company’s eventual downfall. In 2018, PG&E lost $6.9 billion in revenue, and its stock price went down more than 46.5%. Even though the company was obviously going downhill, Geisha Williams still received a 9% salary increase in 2018, totalling $9.3 million for that year.
She also received stock options, a free car with a driver, a security system for her home, and more. Despite being given so many perks, this was not enough to keep her on board. Geisha Williams resigned on January 13, 2019. Just two weeks later, the company filed for bankruptcy.
In October of 2019, it was announced that Mark Parker would step down as the CEO of Nike, and there would be a transition period before he officially does so in January of 2020. Nike is trying to focus more on its digital sales, which is why they want to appoint John Donahoe as their new CEO. He was formerly the CEO of ServiceNow, eBay, and chairman of the board at PayPal. So Donahoe is basically the perfect person to help Nike get more online sales.
In most of these stories, when a CEO steps down, stocks plummet. However, since Donahoe is seen as such a huge improvement, Nike’s stock actually went up 1%, and ServiceNow dropped more than 10%, according to CNBC. During the course of his time spent as CEO, Mike Parker helped to raise the stock price consistently during his time spent with the company. They are taking their time to make a smooth transition in order to ensure Nike stays profitable.
For years, Jesse Angelo has been considered one of the most powerful people in New York City media. He was both the publisher and CEO of The New York Post for several years before leaving the publication to work with Vice. In a public statement, Angeloa said, “After 20 years at the Post, it is time for me to move on and let someone else write the next chapter of this storied institution. I love the Post with my whole heart and wish my colleagues all the best.”
Throughout his career, Jess Angelo helped to push the publication online, rather than keeping it strictly to print. He was able to successfully keep the long-standing publication successful, and it simply seems as though he is looking for a new venture.
Founder and CEO of Overstock Patrick Byrne abruptly decided to sell his 5 million shares in the company and exit his leadership position. Obviously, this isn’t good look for the online retailer, despite the fact that he told Forbes that he had “great enthusiasm for the prospects of the company.” In this case, there may be nothing wrong with the company, and Byrne is just an eccentric millionaire who is playing by his own rules. Byrne explained that he believed that his money would be better spent in cryptocurrency and gold rather than the stock market.
He also expressed that he believed that the government was out to get him and Overstock, and that the company would be better off without him. For years, he has been putting 10s of millions of dollars in Overstock’s resources towards integrating blockchain technology on their site. They are one of the very few websites that accept Bitcoin and Ripple as payment. Unfortunately, it has yet to turn a profit. Overstock was trading at $87 per share in 2018, but at the time this article was written, it went all the way down to just $10 in 2019.
You may recognize the names Kraft and Heinz because of the various types of condiments that you can buy in the grocery store under these brands. Back in 2015, Kraft Foods and H.J. Heinz merged together into one company called Kraft Heinz. Considering that consumers are more health-conscious today, they are buying far less Jello, Lunchables, Kool-Aid, and many of the other products that Kraft Heinz sells.
While he was CEO, Bernardo Hees cut $1.7 billion in unnecessary spending and laid off thousands of employees after the merger. Unfortunately, it would seem that Hees was being “penny smart and pound stupid,” because while he was busy cutting costs, the company was doing almost no marketing campaigns. So they lost $12.6 billion in revenue in 2018. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hees had to step down in 2019.
Steve Stagner served as the CEO of Mattress Firm for more than 20 years. The mattress retail chain has been the subject of multiple conspiracy theories because of how many stores there are throughout the United States. This can be so extreme that there are sometimes multiple Mattress Firms on the same street. Considering that mattresses are the sort of thing that you only buy once every 10 years, this is highly suspicious. The company was under suspicion of money laundering.
After all of these rumors spread, the company sued former employees for aggressively pushing their retail expansion. CEO Steve Stagner decided to close down over 700 stores and the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy soon after. All of this drama seemed to be too much for Stagner, who chose to resign in April of 2019.
In April of 2019, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders mentioned Steve Nelson by name in one of his tweets, saying, “Our message to Steve Nelson and UnitedHealthcare is simple: When we are in the White House your greed is going to end. We will end the disgrace of millions of people being denied health care while a single company earns $226 billion and its CEO makes $7.5 million in compensation.”
Just a few months later in June of 2019, 61-year old Steve Nelson announced he would retire as the CEO of UnitedHealthcare after working there for 15 years. He was replaced by Dirk McMahon, who has worked as the CEO of Optum, which is another branch of UnitedHealthcare. McMahon is not much younger than Nelson, and his is still a few years shy of typical retirement age. It is always possible that he does not want to deal with any potential health care reforms that may happen in 2020.
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, better known as Metlife, is a nationally-recognized brand. Steve Kandarian was the CEO of the company for eight years, but he was there long before helping to navigate the corporation through the Great Recession. However, in 2017, MetLife failed to pay thousands of pension payments. Regulators were notified, and the company’s shares dropped 19 percent in 2018.
In January of 2019, Kandarian announced that he would retire in April. Before leaving, Steven Kandarian sued the US government in order to remove MetLife’s status as “too big to fail.” In case you didn’t know, all of these companies that are considered to be “too big to fail” were given massive bailouts from taxpayer dollars during the 2008 financial crisis. Kandarian believes that this should not be an option for companies, and that it only encourages corruption. One of the other top executives at MetLife, Michel Khalaf, succeeded him as the new CEO once he left in the spring.
Under Armor is famous for their athletic clothing. Founder and CEO Kevin Plank started the company in his grandmother’s basement, and it grew to a national brand. But few people realized that there was a scandal brewing behind the scenes. In October of 2019, Kevin Plank abruptly decided to quit his job as CEO. Very soon after, the Justice Department and Security Exchange Commission (SEC) began investigating Under Armor for poor accounting practices.
They have been accused of shifting their sales between quarters in order to make themselves appear as though they are more profitable than they actually are. This could be considered financial fraud, and the company is currently under a criminal inquiry. If the authorities find evidence to prove their case, Plank will not get away from prosecution simply by quitting his job. This may be the end of the company as well.
In January of 2019, Victor Herrero stepped down from his position as CEO. After the announcement, shares dropped by 11%. The company did not put out a statement explaining why Herrero chose to step down. However, it may be easy to read between the lines. There was a scandal at Guess in 2018, when designer and co-founder Paul Marciano was under investigation for sexual misconduct. Soon after, it was announced in the New York TImes that Marciano was leaving the company. However, by 2019, he was still on the board of Guess.
While the reason for his departure is not clear, it is possible that Victor Herrero simply wanted to separate himself from this drama surrounding Marciano’s scandal, especially in the “Me Too” era. Victor Herrero’s replacement is Carlos Alberini, who is leaving his position as the CEO of Lucky Brand in favor of Guess.
Chris Beard began working for Mozilla Firefox all the way back in 2004. For years, it was one of the most popular Internet browsers around, and many people prefer to use it over Internet Explorer. After 10 years with the company, Beard became the new CEO in 2014. With the prominence of Google Chrome and Apple browsers, Mozilla shifted gears to offering online security services.
In August of 2019, Chris Beard wrote a blog post titled “My Next Chapter,” where he explains that he spent much of his career making sure the company got through the hard times in their transition. Now that he feels that the company is in a good place, he is going to work together with Executive Chairwoman Winifred Mitchell Baker to find a new CEO by the end of 2019. If he has not found a new person to fill the role, Baker will step in as the interim CEO.
In March of 2019, it was announced that Jerry Stritzke resigned as the CEO of outdoor clothing manufacturer REI, and the Chief Operating Officer Eric Artz took his place as the interim CEO. The reason why Stritzke had to leave was because he failed to “properly disclose a personal relationship”. This sounds vague, but apparently, he had a close relationship with another leader of a rival outdoor clothing company.
It would seem that the other executives were afraid that Stritzke’s friendship may have escalated into business dealings that were not brought to the attention of the board. After a thorough investigations, REI’s lawyers concluded that there was no financial exchange between Stritzke and the other CEO. Stritzke wrote a heartfelt open letter to the company wishing all of his employees the best. This sounds like a case of a misunderstanding or mistrust and a lesson to be learned for other business leaders.
Just like many other movie executives, CEO Kevin Tsujihara was discovered to have promised actresses roles in exchange for sex. Specifically, he was caught texting a 21-year-old British actress named Charlotte Kirk. According to Kirk, this was a consensual relationship and she does not believe Tsujihara did anything inappropriate. However, it would seem that the board disagreed. After examining hundreds of text messages between the two of them, it was clear that Tsujihara made promises in the bedroom to help Kirk receive auditions. She got several jobs through Warner Brothers, yet was still unhappy with the small roles that she was given. She began to make demands that some see as a form of extortion.
Tsujihara had a 25-year career at Warner Brothers, overseeing some of the company’s biggest franchises like Harry Potter and Batman: The Dark Knight. This scandal was enough to ruin his career, and he will no longer be working for the company.
Anyone who lives in the United States already knows that Rite Aid is one of the biggest pharmacy chains in the country. Aside from selling medication, they are essentially a convenience store where you can buy everything. In March of 2019, Rite Aid announced that the CEOm John Stanley and several other executives were leaving the company. They also announced that there will be budget cuts and a restructuring, which will cut 20% of the corporate positions that were not actually necessary to running the company.
After this announcement, Rite Aid stocks jumped by 11%. It seems like investors are more than happy to learn that there are some drastic changes happening. Rite Aid has estimated that these changes will help them save $55 million by the year 2020.
Of all the stories on this list, this one is the most tragic by far. Ideas is a veterinary diagnostic firm. CEO Jonathan Ayers was in a cycling accident that left him his a serious sniap injury. Sadly, he became permanently paralyzed. After the accident, the board waited to see what would happen during his recovery.
Four months after the accident, it was clear that he would be paralyzed for the rest of his life. He announced that he had to step down from his position as CEO. After he recovered from his initial injuries and begins his physical therapy, he is slowly becoming acquainted with his new disabilities. Ayers will remain on the board, but he is not physically capable of doing his duty as CEO.
WeWork promised to disrupt the commercial real estate industry by creating shared workspaces. The founder and CEO Adam Neumann estimated hat WeWork was worth $47 billion in his application for an IPO because of their apparent technological advantage over their competitors. They were able to expand to 528 work spaces in 29 different countries. Before they went public, WeWork received $12.8 billion from private investors.
Then, the scandal started. Adam Neumann decided to back out of the IPO. The valuation of the company dropped to just $10 billion. Neumann left a billionaire and thousands of employees were laid off. According to the Wallstreet Journal, WeWork owes over $47 billion in lease obligations but they are only earning $3.4 billion in revenue from leasing the newly renovated spaces. After stepping down from his position as CEO, Adam Neumann left with a $1.7 billion severance package. Only time will tell if he eventually ends up facing charges for accounting fraud.