2019 was a very dramatic year for the business ecosystem. A global economic slowdown, reduction in profits and bankruptcy filing by many companies. But there was something else also going on behind the closed doors of corporate headquarters. Last year witnessed resignations of many top executives from big companies and start-ups. While this could be attributed to pressure from the Board, a big chunk of top executives resigned on their own.
Here is a list of major step-downs in the last year.
1.) Adam Neumann, WeWork
The most dramatic high-profile chief executive exit last year has to be Adam Neumann of WeWork. He founded the company in 2010. Neumann’s grip on the company had already been weakened after the company’s decreased valuation before its Initial Public Offering. He was pressured to resign after questions were raised over corporate governance and mounting losses.
2.) Larry Page, Alphabet
While this didn’t come as a surprise to many people, few were still amazed at how the founder of Google quit his position from the parent company, Alphabet. In recent years, Page and his co-founder friend Sergey Brin had been slowly handing managerial duties over to others, notably Sundar Pichai, who took over Google in 2015 and now succeeds Page as Alphabet CEO. Page still retains the voting control in the Board.
3.) Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s
Steve Easterbrook was made to leave his position as Chief Executive of McDonald’s after reports surfaced about his consensual relationship with an employee. He was fired on the grounds that his actions violated company policy. While Steve walked away with a hefty compensation, he has also been asked to refrain from joining a direct competitor. He was replaced by Chris Kempczinski, who earlier served as the President of McDonald’s USA arm.
4.) Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan Motor Co.
Nissan Motor Co. was already facing troubles since the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn over alleged financial misconduct. The company’s trouble increased after an internal investigation revealed falsified documents that boosted the compensation of the former CEO Hiroto Saikawa as the CEO. His resignation came after he admitted that he had been overpaid by tens of millions of yen under an incentive scheme that awards bonuses to directors if the company’s share price performs well.
5.) Jack Ma, Alibaba
The founder and Chairman of the Chinese e-commerce giant, Jack Ma stepped down from his position last year in September. Ma, a former English teacher, interestingly chose Chinese Teacher’s Day as the time for his resignation. He continues to serve on Alibaba’s board until the Annual General Shareholders’ meeting in 2020. Ma will also continue to remain a lifetime partner of Alibaba Partnership, a group comprising of 36 members who have the right to nominate a majority of the company’s board of directors.