Mark Parker to Step Down as Nike CEO, Tech Outsider to Take Over

In a surprise move, Mark Parker is stepping down as CEO of Nike, effective Jan. 13, 2020.

John Donahoe, the current president and CEO of ServiceNow Inc. and chairman of PayPal Holdings will take the top spot at the athletics giant, which has maintained impressive strength amid a period of incredible change across the industry and within its own ranks. Parker will now transition to the role of executive chairman.

While Nike positioned Donahoe’s appointment as a natural move for the company as it steps up its digital-focused efforts, some insiders speculated that controversies surrounding Parker and the company played a role in the shift.

Parker has been taking some heat during the past few weeks for his connection to Nike Oregon Project head coach Alberto Salazar, who was handed a four-year ban by the U.S. Anti-Doping Association. The sportswear giant  announced it would “wind down” the program. That situation is just one challenge the company has faced over the past year.

The firm was impacted by internal upheaval in 2018, with the highly publicized departure of brand president Trevor Edwards, who was reportedly next in line to succeed Parker. That news preceded several unexpected and high-profile exits as well as multiple reports describing allegations of harassment, a toxic workplace environment (for women) and a quiet, female-led revolt.

Still, the reported cultural issues didn’t slow down the company’s momentum. For its most recent quarter, the athletics giant today posted earnings for its fiscal first quarter ended Aug. 31, noting revenues that increased 7% to $10.66 billion, ahead of Wall Street’s predicted $10.43 billion.

“This is an exciting time for Nike, where we see brand strength and momentum throughout the world and great opportunity for future growth,” said Parker. “I am delighted John will join our team. His expertise in digital commerce, technology, global strategy and leadership, combined with his strong relationship with the brand, make him ideally suited to accelerate our digital transformation and to build on the positive impact of our consumer direct offense. I look forward to continuing to lead the board as executive chairman, as well as partnering closely with John and the management team to help him transition to his new role.”

“It is an honor to become president and CEO of this amazing, innovative company, and to join the more than 76,000 talented and passionate employees dedicated to serving athletes,” added Donahoe in a statement. “Over the last five years, I’ve been proud to be connected to Nike through my role on the board and now look forward to being a full-time member of the team, working even more closely with Mark, building on Nike’s success and seizing the opportunities ahead.”

From 2008 through 2015, Donahoe was president and CEO of eBay Inc. and previously was the CEO and worldwide managing director of Bain & Co. Donahoe served on the Nike board for the past five years.

Donahoe’s expertise in the digital space comes at a time when Nike is doubling down on its Consumer Direct Offense plan, first announced in 2017. Nike is also ramping up its innovation focus, while offering a deeper selection of its best-performing styles and enhancing its digital efforts with mobile.


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