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The 10 Biggest CEO Departures Of 2018

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A number of high-profile CEOs from some very large and consequential companies called it quits this year. Some were forced out, some exited having guided their companies to relatively safe harbor, and one unexpectedly passed away. We do not claim to have listed everyone who traded in their seat at the head of the table in 2018, but these are some of the more notable ones.

Kevin Systrom, Instagram

In 2006, while a senior at Stanford University, Kevin Systrom was offered a position at Facebook by the then up-and-coming social media company’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He famously turned Zuck down, electing to stay in school.

Regardless of the declined opportunity, Systrom, 34, wound up at Facebook anyway, but on his own terms. In 2012 he sold his fast-growing photo sharing network, Instagram, to the social media behemoth for about $1 billion, earning himself a $400 million payday based on his then 40% stake.

This September Systrom, Instagram’s CEO, and his cofounder Mike Krieger, announced they would step away from the company amid alleged tensions with Zuckerberg. In staying on with the firm for six years following Instagram’s acquisition, Systrom has been instrumental in cultivating the company’s revenue-generating advertising offerings, as well as its reach with a younger demographic at a time when young people are turning away from Facebook.


Pepsi Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. Picture: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune

Indra Nooyi, Pepsi

In October big business lost one of its few female CEOs, as Indra Nooyi resigned from Pepsico after a dozen years in the top spot.

Nooyi, 63, who will remain as chairman of Pepsico through the start of 2019, spent 24 years with the company and led the organization as it sought to evolve with a changing food industry that is placing greater emphasis on healthier products. Last year, thanks to her leadership, Pepsico declared that ‘better-for-you’ items accounted for 50% of its offerings.

Despite pushback and criticism from some investors and industry watchers over her emphasis on beefing up Pepsico’s reach in the healthy food category, Nooyi’s results during her tenure overshadow her naysayers: She leaves the company as its annual revenue stands at $63.5 billion—up from $35 billion per year when she began her stint as its CEO in 2006—and Pepsico’s share price has almost doubled in that time.


VW group CEO Matthias Mueller. Picture: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Matthias Müller, Volkswagen

When Matthias Müller took over as CEO of Volkswagen in 2015, he was installed as a replacement for Martin Winterkorn, on whose watch the company was discovered to have installed software in its vehicles meant to fool emissions testing—a scandal that embarrassed the well-known German automaker and cost the company more than $15 billion in fines and compensation.

This spring, the world’s largest automaker announced that Müller would step down. He was replaced by VW brand manager Herbert Diess.

Under Müller, who had previously been chief executive of VW subsidiary Porsche, Volkswagen invested heavily in the development of electric vehicles and attempted to overhaul the company’s management structure. Under him, the firm retained its title as the world’s largest automaker and saw its profit margins grow.

Müller, who is 64, earned $12 million in compensation last year and last March the Volkswagen board voted to give him a 40% pay raise. Despite his resignation, he will continue to be paid through 2020, when his current contract expires.


Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group. Picture: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs

After 12 years atop the mighty Goldman Sachs, CEO Lloyd Blankfein announced his resignation earlier this year. He was replaced by the firm’s president and COO, David Solomon.

Blankfein, 64, has held several positions within the firm, including vice chairman, president and COO. This year Blankfein placed #47 on Forbes’ list of the world’s Most Powerful People. In a farewell message to his colleagues, he said “When times are tougher, you can’t leave. And, when times are better, you don’t want to leave.”

Sullying Blankfein’s final days at the firm are woeful share prices for Goldman, which are down about 33% from last year, the steepest drop coming this fall in the aftermath of an escalating controversy over allegations that the firm was connected to a conspiracy to launder $2.7 billion from a Malaysian fund several years ago.

Ian Read, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer. Picture: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ian Read, Pfizer

After eight years as the head of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Ian Read announced this year that he will be stepping down as CEO of Pfizer. Read was a company man, joining the pharma giant in 1978 as an operational auditor, and in the years that followed held various positions, including chief financial Officer with Pfizer Mexico, Country Manager in Brazil, president of its International Pharmaceuticals Group, and group president of the Worldwide Bio-pharmaceutical Businesses.

During his tenure as CEO, Read, who is 65, pursued foreign acquisitions to allow Pfizer to avoid U.S. tax penalties. In this Read was unsuccessful, allowing targets like AstraZeneca and Allergan to slip away, while being maligned by U.S. politicians for the effort.

Les Moonves, former CBS CEO. Picture: David McNew/Getty Images

Les Moonves, CBS

CBS’s Les Moonves made headlines this year when a dozen women stepped forwardaccusing the CEO of instances of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault that date back as far as the 1980s, outlined in a series of news media articles. Moonves, 68, denied the allegations. In September CBS’ board forced him out, the latest high-profile entertainment figure to come to ruin through allegations of sexual misconduct.

In December, CBS announced that Moonves would not receive a dime of the $120 million severance package to which he was contractually entitled as an internal investigation into his activities concluded that he had violated company policy. Still, Moonves is far from destitute. The former CEO is worth an estimated $800 million, $500 million of which was earned through the sale of CBS stock.

Sergio Marchionne, former chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Picture: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sergio Marchionne, Fiat-Chrysler

This summer the auto industry lost a true giant, as Fiat-Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne, passed away at age 66 due to complications following shoulder surgery.

Marchionne’s career highlights include spearheading the resurgence of Fiat and Chrysler—the former he assumed control of as its chief executive in 2004; the latter he worked shrewdly to acquire in 2009, virtually for free after Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy. Today the organizations, merged under his leadership, are worth ten times their value when he took the helm.

Forbes contributor Ed Garsten, who worked with Chrysler before and after Marchionne’s acquisition of the company, remembers the late CEO’s arrival on the scene and the positive boost he gave to his new employees in his initial address at Chrysler. “In the course of about 30 minutes, in his gravelly, accented voice, Marchionne proceeded to say the words that made the past two years seem to disappear,” Garsten writes, “delivering a message of hope, of promise, of winning, that we’re all in it together, punctuated by a bit of philosophy, in Swahili.”

Sir Martin Sorrell, the former chief executive officer of WPP. Picture: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Advertising Week Europe

Martin Sorrell, WPP

WPP, one of the world’s largest advertising and marketing companies, lost its CEO and founder this year: Martin Sorrell, who ran the company for 33 years.

Sorrell’s departure comes in the wake of mysterious allegations of misconduct that moved WPP’s board to hire an outside law firm to investigate its CEO. The results of the investigation have not been disclosed, but Sorrell later resigned and was replaced by company COO Mark Read.

Sorrell, who is 73 and an icon of entrepreneurship in Britain, acquired WPP in the mid-1980s to act as a holding company for his planned marketing empire. He had previously been the financial director of advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi. His aggressively acquisitive strategy assured fast growth—and debt—for WPP over the years, and last year the conglomerate generated nearly $19.3 billion in revenue. Sorrell himself earned $68 million.

But the business life is not over for Sorrell. Shortly after his resignation from WPP, he set the wheels in motion for his latest venture: a communications services firm named S4.


Brian Krzanich, former Intel CEO. Picture: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Brian Krzanich, Intel

This year Intel celebrated its 50th year in business. It also bid farewell to its CEO of five years, Brian Krzanich, who was dislodged following the revelation that he’d had a consensual relationship with a subordinate colleague, which violated company policy. He was replaced with company CFO Robert H. Swan.

Krzanich, 58, began his career at Intel in 1982 as an engineer at a microchip factory in New Mexico. Over the years he’s held a number of positions with the tech giant, including that of chief operating officer. Krzanich was a member of Donald Trump’s administration’s American Manufacturing Council, a body that included Tesla’s Elon Musk, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank and Michael Dell. He quit the Council in the wake of Trump’s response to the 2017 Unite The Right Rally that left one counter-protestor dead and many others injured.

In November Krzanich announced he had found a new job, assuming the chief executive position of Illinois-based software company CDK Global.


Condé Nast CEO Bob Sauerberg. Picture: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bob Sauerberg, Condé Nast

Condé Nast announced in November that its CEO, Bob Sauerberg, would step down as soon as a suitable replacement is found. The timing of his departure comes just a few months after Sauerberg set down a turnaround strategy for the publishing conglomerate to return to solvency within two years. Condé Nast says it will adhere to Sauerberg’s plans.

Sauerberg’s replacement will assume a more powerful role, one that oversees both Condé Nast and Condé Nast International—two operations traditionally led by different chief executives.

Sauerberg joined the company in 2005 and was named president five years later. He was made CEO in January of 2016 and during his tenure as head of the company launched Condé Nast Entertainment.

-Karsten Strauss

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The Top 5 Emerging Crazy Tech

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A pick of some of the weirdest, coolest tech that could come hurtling our way this year.

  1. A bot that delivers toilet paper

Forgot to instal toilet paper in the loo? The Charmin RollBot is designed to carry a roll of toilet paper on two wheels. With the press of a button on your phone, the RollBot will help with your sanitary requirement.

Using Bluetooth, the bot will commence its mission; an infra-red sensor able to navigate its way to you. According to Business Insider, there’s no price or release date for RollBot, nor is it clear if it will ever be released as a consumer product. Charmin calls RollBot a “conceptual prototype”. The brand unveiled the bot last month at the CES 2020 expo in Las Vegas.

2. The Cyrcle phone

If for any reason you got bored of your rectangular handset, the circular phone is always an alternative offering a different view and take. According to the makers, the phone was designed with the Generation Z, female audience in mind. It’s round and features two headphone jacks. The device was designed by a US-based startup delivering a shape that it says is more “sensual”. The company reckons it will be ready to launch in a year’s time.

3. A smart bed

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. But it’s not always possible to have the best sleep every day. Or is it? There is a bed that’s guaranteed to give you your beauty sleep the way you want it.

Sleep Number Climate 360 has a mattress with features that warm your feet to help you sleep faster. It will also help you stay asleep by cooling your body, and balance your temperature with your natural wake and sleep cycles.

But what’s most intriguing is the fact that the bed also gives you a Sleep IQ score for personalized sleep insights. It measures your heart rate, breathing and movement, tracks your circadian rhythms and can show how your heart rate varies. The smart bed received the CES 2020 Best of Innovation award and is only expected to be available in 2021.

4. Self-changing trash can

For those who dread taking out the trash, this device is possible a no-brainer. Apart from its motion sensors to detect when you need to throw trash, when it’s full, it will automatically seal the trash bag and line the bin with a new one, all with a press of a button.

Even if the bin is overflowing, the top compartment will lift up so it can still seal the bag shut without any mess. The bin, called the Townew bin, was designed by a Canadian company, Knectek Labs.

5. Vertical TV

Just when we were getting used to wider TVs, it seems taller screens may soon be coming to your living room. Samsung’s Sero TV vertical-oriented will soon be hitting markets.

The TV can not only work in the traditional horizontal format, but is also able to turn on its side for playing vertical videos in portrait style.This might come in handy when watching videos from social media platforms such as TikTok or Instagram that deal primarily with vertical videos.

It sits on a stand that prevents it hitting the floor when turning, and can be paired with a phone so that it automatically orientates it correctly based on what’s beamed from the handset. According to TechRadar.com the pricing and availability are yet to be revealed, but the Sero will be leaving Korea and is headed to the US and “several global markets” later this year.

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The NBA’s Highest-Paid Players 2019-20: LeBron James Scores Record $92 Million

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NBA salaries have skyrocketed in recent years, but the biggest stars have earned more off the court than on it to this point in their careers. LeBron James, who tops the ranking for the 2019-2020 season, has made more than twice as much from endorsements than his $270 million in playing salary over his first 16 years. Kevin Durant’s on-court earnings of $187 million in 12 seasons is dwarfed by his current ten-year, $275 million Nike deal.

At $92 million, including salary and endorsements, James is the NBA’s highest-paid player for the sixth straight year. It is a record haul for an active basketball player. Nike is his biggest backer, and the company is naming a new research lab at its Beaverton, Oregon, corporate campus after James. Last month, the 17th iteration of his Nike signature shoe, the LeBron XVII, hit stores.

The four-time NBA MVP added a pair of endorsement deals in 2019 with Rimowa luggage and Walmart, which joined Coca-Cola, Beats By Dre, Blaze Pizza and NBA 2K in his sponsorship stable.

He also has a budding digital media company, Uninterrupted, and a production firm, SpringHill Entertainment, which will release a sequel to the 1996 Michael Jordan vehicle Space Jam in conjunction with Warner Bros. in 2021. All of the off-court work is worth an estimated $55 million for James this season.

The Los Angeles Lakers star’s comments about the NBA’s geopolitical mess in China also reveal the precarious position everyone in the league is in as political unrest in Hong Kong shows no signs of abating.

As the league’s 74th regular season tipped off Tuesday night, the NBA was still reeling from the crisis set off by a tweet from Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters.

Commissioner Adam Silver backed Morey’s right to free speech, but some players didn’t, including James, who called Morey “misinformed or not really educated” on the situation. “We love China,” said Rockets point guard James Harden.

It was a rare misstep for two of the league’s more media-savvy stars, both of whom have close ties to China. Adidas, which has Harden as the face of its basketball business, generated more revenue in China last year than in North America, and the Rockets are China’s most popular team after drafting native son Yao Ming in 2002.

Nike’s China revenue topped $6 billion during the last fiscal year, and the country is a growth leader for the brand. James has represented Nike on 15 off-season trips to China. The sports giant pays James more than $30 million annually to pitch its products around the globe.

And the threat of losing its growth trajectory in China could have far-reaching consequences for team valuations.

But back at home, the financials of NBA franchises remain solid, which is good for player salaries. The league’s salary cap is soaring, fueled largely by the nine-year, $24 billion TV deal with ESPN and TNT signed in 2014.

NBA players are entitled to 51% of the league’s “basketball-related income” as laid out in the collective bargaining agreement. The rich TV deal and budding international business means 46 players will earn a playing salary of at least $25 million this season, according to Spotrac. The $25 million club had zero members five years ago. And unlike in the NFL, every dollar is guaranteed upon signing.

The NBA's Highest-Paid Players
The Highest-Paid NBA Players - Dataviz

On-court salaries in the NBA are capped based on a player’s number of years in the league and accolades earned in cases in which an award like MVP entitles them to a bigger percentage of a team’s salary cap.

So the pecking order for the elite stars is ultimately determined by their off-court income, with the shoe deal the biggest component of those earnings. There are ten active NBA players who will make at least $10 million from their shoe contracts this year, by Forbes’ count.

Stephen Curry comes in at No. 2 on the earnings list this year and is expected to generate $85 million this season, including $45 million off the court. Under Armour represents nearly half of his off-court income.

Curry’s $40.2 million salary from the Golden State Warriors is the highest in the history of the NBA; he’s in the third season of the five-year, $201 million contract he signed in 2017. Curry’s production company, Unanimous Media, has a development deal with Sony Pictures.

Unanimous’ first movie, Breakthrough, was released in April, with Curry playing a role in marketing the Christian-oriented film, which grossed $50 million on a $14 million budget.

Durant has the NBA’s second-biggest annual shoe contract after James’ at an estimated $26 million this season. His total earnings from his playing salary and endorsements is $73 million. Nike sells more KD shoes in China than in North America, according to Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman.

Like James and Curry, Durant has his own production company, which is co-producing a new basketball-themed drama, Swagger, that is inspired by Durant’s youth basketball experience and will air on the Apple TV+ streaming service.

The NBA’s ten highest-paid players are expected to earn a cumulative $600 million this year, including $250 million from endorsements, appearances, merchandise and media.

A Closer Look At The NBA's Highest-Paid Players
#10: Damian Lillard

Lillard signed a four-year, $196 million supermax extension in July with the Portland Trail Blazers that kicks in for the 2021-2022 season. The final year is worth $54.25 million for the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year and four-time All-Star. Lillard’s Adidas shoe deal is worth roughly $10 million annually.

#9: Giannis Antetokounmpo

The “Greek Freak” is eligible for a five-year, $248 million contract extension next summer with the Milwaukee Bucks. It would be the richest deal in the history of the sport. In June, Nike unveiled the first signature shoe, Zoom Freak 1, for the 2019 NBA MVP.

#8: Chris Paul

Only Curry will earn more on the court this season than Paul, who was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in July. Paul was an early investor and ambassador for Beyond Meat, whose stock price has quadrupled since its initial public offering in May.

#7: Klay Thompson

Thompson’s coach, Steve Kerr, says the sharpshooter is likely to miss the entire season after tearing his ACL during the NBA Finals in June. But he’ll still collect his full $32.7 million salary—almost double last year’s—under the first season of the five-year, $190 million pact he signed in July. Thompson is the basketball face of Chinese shoe brand Anta.

#6: Kyrie Irving

Irving joins his third team in four years this season. His four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets is worth $136 million and includes an additional $4.3 million in potential incentives. A viral Pepsi ad campaign featuring Irving as the elderly Uncle Drew eventually led to a 2018 feature film; Irving has partial ownership of the character. Irving is another Beyond Meat investor.

#5: James Harden

The 2018 NBA MVP purchased a minority stake in the Houston Dynamo of MLS this summer for $15 million. Harden also holds equity stakes in BodyArmor, Stance socks and Art of Sport. His salary with the Rockets jumps $8 million this season with the start of a contract extension he signed in 2017.

#4: Russell Westbrook

Westbrook’s five-year, $207 million contract is the largest deal in the NBA right now. The eight-time All Star extended his deal with Nike’s Jordan brand in 2017 for another ten years and in 2018 received his first signature shoe, the Why Not Zer0. Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for three straight seasons.

#3: Kevin Durant

Durant is likely to miss the entire season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in June during the NBA Finals. He’ll still pocket his full first-year salary from the Brooklyn Nets under the four-year, $164 million deal he signed in July. He’s invested in more than 30 startups, including Postmates and investing app Acorns.

#2: Stephen Curry

The two-time MVP used some of his hoops money in June to buy a $31 million home in Atherton, California, with his wife, Ayesha. He also made a seven-figure donation this summer to Howard University to help launch a golf program at the school and recently signed an endorsement partnership with Callaway Golf. Curry became the only player to win the NBA MVP unanimously when he won his second of back-to-back awards in 2016.

#1: LeBron James

James signed an endorsement in 2019 with Walmart that is rooted in community work. He worked with the retail giant on its Fight Hunger. Spark Change. initiative, as well as the company’s back-to-school campaign. James is part of an investment group that owns 19 Blaze Pizza franchises across Illinois and Florida.

-Forbes; Kurt Badenhausen

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These Are The Biggest Givers On The Forbes 400

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This has been a year of record-setting in billionaire philanthropy. In September, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of POM Wonderful and Fiji Water, pledged $750 million to the California Institute of Technology for environmental sustainability research.

In June, Blackstone cofounder Stephen Schwarzman donated $189 million to the University of Oxford—the largest single gift to the school since the Renaissance—to fund its work on humanities. The same month, Broadcom billionaire Henry Samueli pledged $100 million to UCLA’s engineering school, the largest gift ever to the department. 

Forbes tracks gifts and pledges like these as part of our ongoing coverage of charitable giving by the country’s richest people.

READ MORE | The World’s Most Generous Billionaires Outside Of The US

For the second year in a row, Forbes tracked the philanthropic giving of the richest 400 individuals in the U.S. and gave each member of The Forbes 400 list a philanthropy score. The score ranged from 1 to 5,  with 5 being the most philanthropic. List members for whom we could find no charitable giving information received an N.A. (not available).

Philanthropy Forbes 400
FORBES

Though the number of the biggest givers—those who scored a 5—stayed flat in 2019, those who received scores of 4 and 3 increased compared with a year ago.

The changes reflect two things: The country’s richest have gotten somewhat more generous, and Forbes had more information to work with this year. Some billionaires were willing to share information on charitable giving for the 2019 list who didn’t in 2018. As a result, four dozen people got higher scores this year than a year ago. 

This year, Warren Buffett led the list of top givers with $38.8 billion in lifetime giving, which is 32% of his net worth, and earned the top score of 5.

He was followed by last year’s biggest giver, Bill Gates, who has donated $38.5 billion so far. Two people who scored a 5 last year—Paul Allen and David Koch—passed away.

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Billionaires like DreamWorks Pictures founder David Geffen and WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton moved up to the top score after each scored a 4 last year. According to the latest tax filings, Geffen gave $38 million to his foundation in 2017, which brought his lifetime giving to about $1 billion.

Acton and his wife Tegan, on the other hand, have been expanding their philanthropic network, Wildcard Giving, which they founded in 2014 after Acton sold WhatsApp to Facebook. The couple has given away more than $1 billion to charitable causes.

2019 Forbes 400 Giving
FORBES

Forty-one billionaires, including Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings and software billionaire Philip “Terry” Ragon, got higher scores this year than last year. Some, like Stephen Schwarzman, earned a higher score thanks to giving in the past year.

Others scored higher because we were able to find more information about their lifetime giving, through new public documents or details provided to us by Forbes 400 members or their spokespeople. In September, a Los Angeles Times report revealed that B.

Wayne Hughes, cofounder of self-storage behemoth Public Storage, had anonymously donated about $400 million to the University of Southern California in his lifetime. Hughes, who scored a 2 last year, jumped up to a 4.

Private equity tycoon Robert F. Smith’s pledge in May to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College generated lots of headlines but did not end up changing his score because the gift wasn’t big enough to move him up a notch. In many cases, fortunes grew faster than lifetime philanthropic giving. 

READ MORE | Noëlla Coursaris Musunka The Trailblazer In The Congo

To come up with the information on which we based our score, Forbes reporters looked at tax filings for charitable foundations, annual statements, SEC filings and news about new gifts. When possible, we interviewed Forbes 400 members and executives from their foundations. Some Forbes 400 members said they have chosen to donate anonymously, citing religious or privacy concerns. 

Our score is based on total lifetime giving and what percent of their fortune members had given away. We weighted these two factors equally. Some individuals were then bumped up or down based on several other factors, including whether they had signed the Giving Pledge, whether they had pledged significant donations, how personally involved they were in their charitable giving, and how quickly and effectively their private foundations distributed dollars. We didn’t count pledges or announced gifts that have yet to be paid out, but we took commitment to philanthropy—or lack thereof—into account.

Forbes has been tracking the wealth of the richest Americans since 1982. “Some of [the members] told us to drop dead,” James Michaels, veteran editor of Forbes, told the New York Times in a 1982 story about the list’s debut. “They said they wanted no part of it, that they’d sue us.

This happens in reporting.” At times, our reporting on philanthropic giving received a similar response. “The new philanthropy ranking is fundamentally flawed, in that it is biased in favor of those who make their gifts widely known, and against donors who choose to make their charitable contributions anonymously,” one current Forbes 400 member (who did not wish to be named) wrote to us last year.

-Deniz Çam; Forbes

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