This year set a record for CEO departures. Some 1,332 spots were vacated between January and October, with October’s 172 turnovers leading all months since 2002, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Additional firings and retirements continued through December.
Some attribute this accelerated turnover to the fallout from the #MeToo movement.
Poor behavior has supplanted poor financial performance as the leading cause of dismissals, PriceWaterhouseCoopers said in May. Below are some of the biggest C-suite shake-ups and their reported causes.
Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) co-founder Larry Page resigned as CEO in December but will remain on the company’s board of directors. The transition to Sundar Pichai had begun years earlier, so Page’s downgrade after 21 years was hardly a surprise.
Carl Liebert headed AutoNation, Inc. (NYSE: AN) for just four months before being replaced by his CFO. The chairman of the board described Liebert as “not a good fit.”
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Activist investors pressured Steven Temares to step down in May amid a push to replace the whole board. Temeres had led Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) since 2003 and struggled to grow sales.
After a strong seven years at Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE: BBY), where he kept the company afloat amid an e-commerce onslaught, Hubert Joly resigned in June.
Brad Dickerson announced his pursuit of “new opportunities” in April after leading Blue Apron Holdings Inc (NYSE: APRN) with its stock value down by half.
Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) ousted Dennis Muilenburg, a 34-year veteran of the company, in December as it struggled to address two fatal plane crashes that investigators deemed preventable.
Dave Hagan retired from Boingo Wireless (NASDAQ: WIFI) in March after 17 years at the helm. He had helped take the company public and grow from a startup to leading Wi-Fi provider.
Tom Kingsbury announced his retirement from Burlington Stores Inc (NYSE: BURL) in September after a decade in the role.
After 12 years leading Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE: CL), Ian Cook transitioned from CEO to chief executive in April. He had been with the company since 1976.
Amid pressure from activist investors Elliott Management and Starboard Value, Devin Wenig stepped down from his eight-year tenure at eBay Inc (NASDAQ: EBAY) in September.
Mark Okerstrom left in December after Expedia Group Inc (NASDAQ: EXPE)’s board and C-suite sharply disagreed on strategy.
Art Peck ended a 15-year tenure with Gap Inc (NYSE: GPS) in November. During his three-year reign as CEO, the stock ceded more than half its value on continued sales declines.
Victor Herrero stepped down as Guess?, Inc. (NYSE: GES) CEO in February for unknown reasons.
Shortly after AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) bought HBO parent company WarnerMedia, Richard Plepler stepped down. He offered no reason for ending his 30-year run with the company.
The vape manufacturer replaced Kevin Burns with a former Altria Group Inc (NYSE: MO) executive in September after the company came under fire for the epidemic of underage vaping.
Bernardo Hees cut short his four-year leadership after Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ: KHC) recorded major losses, sliced its dividend and came under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Steve Stagner resigned in April after leading Mattress Firm for seven non-consecutive years. He led the company through its IPO and a bankruptcy.
The board ousted Steve Easterbrook, Mcdonald’s Corp (NYSE: MCD) CEO of four years, in November after he violated a company policy on workplace relationships.
Steven Kandarian retired from Metlife Inc (NYSE: MET) in April after nearly eight years at the top and 14 years at the company. The board had waived its retirement age policy to enable Kandarian to stay on after he struck the threshold last year.
Mark Parker stepped down in November following a broader executive overhaul and lawsuits against Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) for alleged gender discrimination. He had led Nike for 13 years and been with the company since 1979.
Nissan forced out Carlos Ghosn for alleged fraud: the concealment of more than $140 million in compensation and benefits from investors.
Patrick Byrne resigned in August after publicizing his contributions to FBI investigations of “political espionage.” The controversy led him to depart Overstock.com Inc (NASDAQ: OSTK) after 20 years.
Geisha Williams left PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG) in January amid pressure from public actors and outside investors. Her two years on top were marred by two deadly wildfires, lawsuits saddling PG&E with more than $30 billion in liabilities and a related bankruptcy filing.
In March, Jerry Stritzke concluded his five-year leadership of REI as the board investigated a relationship between him and the head of a competitor.
After nine years of leading Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) through a major sales decline and store closures, John Standley was replaced in April.
Bill McDermott ended his nine-year tenure at SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) to take over ServiceNow.
After two years at the helm of ServiceNow, John Donahoe left to take over Nike in January 2020.
Kevin Plank, who founded Under Armour Inc Class A (NYSE: UAA) in 1996, stepped down in October as the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission investigated the company for accounting missteps. He remained on as executive chairman and brand chief.
Oscar Munoz announced he would retire as United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: UAL) CEO in May 2020 but will stay on as chairman. He had led the company since 2015 but suffered health complications through part of his tenure.
Steve Nelson unexpectedly retired from UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE: UNH) in June after 15 years with the company.
Kevin Tsujihara left Warner Bros in March as the company investigated allegations of an inappropriate relationship.
Tim Sloan stepped down in March as Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: WFC) failed to recover from news of fraudulent and unethical practices.
Following a failed IPO attempt and revelations of poor governance, Adam Neuman stepped down from WeWork in September. He had led the company through mounting losses.