The wording of a modern corporate press release is an act of modern statecraft. The release today by Nike on the status of CEO Mark Parker is a case in point.
In these times of global uncertainty, the importance of the press release in modern business can not be underestimated. The purpose is to quiet the storms created by difficult financial times, marketplace uncertainties, and challenges in the perceptions of a brand.
The release below does all the above. A CEO is stepping down (Mark Parker) and is being replaced with a CEO with a skill set beyond the sports industry. That John Donahue has a fascinating CV and has solid management skills shows several things: the decision for Mark Parker to change his role, not leave Nike, is a long term decision. This decision was not accomplished overnight. The decision to replace the CEO, a running shoe product guy, with a digitally experienced CEO, shows that Nike is planning for the next 25 years. That bit of statecraft will keep the Nike stock price in good standing.
What the release does not say is how difficult the past month has been. The USADA ban of Alberto Salazar, and the amount of animus displayed on social media to Nike, Salazar and Mark Parker was real. This writer has no reason to believe that Parker’s missives were not genuine.
The dismantling of Nike Oregon Project was, perhaps, in my estimation, the first Non PHK decision at Nike. Phil Knight loved (loves) a good fight. This was a decision to protect the brand. This writer begs to differ with the decision. I would have thought that Pete Julian would be given a chance to right the ship. Perhaps the social media storm was too damaging. We might never know. Parker defended the brand, in his eyes, by ending the NOP.
A story is told that when Alberto Salazar asked Mr. Knight for his blessing, PHK noted that he did not want another Athletics West, an epic club mired in controversy in the 1970s-1980s. NOP is not the anti-Christ. At best, the club and management were guilty of extreme hubris. Many believe, including some fine athletes, who I respect, that the management of NOP was guilty of much, much more. That will be decided in court. In that process, the very notion of anti-doping may be emasculated, to be blunt.
Alas, the Salazar issue was damaging the brand. Minute by minute, new stories were posted. In the social media world, the calling for the head of Mark Parker was heard. The media frenzy was building. CEOs lead in days both good and bad. Parker was experiencing some days of bad karma.
In modern day global businesses, and especially one so influenced by Japanese culture and tradition, the ancient ritual of seppuku is a bit too graphic, and quite frankly, a waste. Mark Parker has shown thoughtful leadership during his tenure, that he will be staying on to help direct the Board is critical in Nike’s future.
The social media world will be a flutter with how Parker stepped down, and who pressured who. I prefer to think that, in a dream, Mark Parker was visited by the late Steve Prefontaine, huge burrito in one hand, Coors in the other. Sitting next to Parker, Pre munches on his burrito, takes a sip of Coors and ponders the recent shit storm. Then, Parker hears this voice: “You lived your dream for thirteen years, you do not have to worry about rent or beer money, so what the hell? Time to do something new…”
Good luck to the new CEO of Nike. And best wishes to the recent CEO.
NIKE, Inc. announces Board Member John Donahoe will succeed Mark Parker as President & CEO in 2020, Parker to become Executive Chairman
October 22, 2019
The Board of Directors of NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) announced today that John Donahoe will be appointed as the company’s new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective Jan. 13, 2020. At the same time, Mark Parker, CEO since 2006 and Chairman, President & CEO since 2016, will become Executive Chairman and continue to lead the Board of Directors and work closely with Donahoe and the senior management team.
“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,” said Donahoe. “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.”
Donahoe is the current President and CEO of ServiceNow, Inc. and also serves on its Board of Directors. He is Chairman of PayPal Holdings, Inc. From 2008 through 2015, he was President and CEO of eBay, Inc. and previously was the CEO and Worldwide Managing Director of Bain & Co. from 1999 to 2005, and a Managing Director from 1992 to 1999. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Stanford University.
Donahoe will remain on the Board of Nike where he has been a member since 2014.
About NIKE, Inc.
NIKE, Inc., based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly-owned NIKE, Inc. subsidiary brands include Converse, which designs, markets and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories; and Hurley, which designs, markets and distributes surf and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories. For more information, NIKE, Inc.’s earnings releases and other financial information are available on the Internet at http://investors.nike.com. Individuals can also visit http://news.nike.com and follow @NIKE.