Nike long time CEO Mark Parker is stepping down, effective January of next year. This was made known by Nike in a press release on Tuesday October 22, 2019.
In a sign of the company’s focus on digital, he will be replaced by John Donahoe, a Nike board member and the CEO of ServiceNow. Donahoe was formerly the CEO of eBay and is the chairman of the board at PayPal.
Parker, who has been Nike’s CEO since he took over from founder Phil Knight in 2006, will become the company’s executive chairman, according to the press release. He has worked with Nike for four decades, including as vice president of global footwear and co-president.
Parker said in an interview with CNBC’s Wilfred Frost that Donahoe is “no stranger” at Nike and decidedly is “the best choice to come in.” He said Donahoe should “enable this next level of growth,” digitally, for the company. And he added Nike’s board has spent “many months working on succession planning. … This is not something that happens in a matter of weeks.”
He also said the decision wasn’t prompted by recent doping allegations connected to Nike’s Oregon Project.
At the end of September, Nike’s head running coach, Alberto Salazar, was banned amid doping allegations, which reportedly included ties back to Parker. The New York Times reviewed emails from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that showed Parker had been briefed on Salazar’s various experiments to use testosterone cream for track-and-field athletes.
In an email to employees at the time, Parker said: “Nike did not participate in any effort to systematically dope any runners ever; the very idea makes me sick.” He also said Nike looked into the allegations against Salazar and found no violations.
“We are staying very close to the situation,” Parker told CNBC on Tuesday. “We are in the midst of complex times.”
Under Parker’s leadership, Nike has seen its stock surge and sales climb. But the company has also faced its share of corporate culture scandals and backlash over controversial marketing campaigns.
Nike in 2018 admitted it failed in hiring and promoting women, and the company ousted at least 11 executives and announced raises for 7,000 employees after conducting an internal review of its pay practices. Parker apologized to employees at large in May.
In its latest reported quarter, Nike’s revenues jumped 7.2% to $10.66 billion from $9.95 billion a year ago, topping Street expectations for $10.44 billion.
The company has forecast revenue growth for the current fiscal year to be up a high-single-digit range, slightly topping sales growth in fiscal 2019.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is Nike’s lead independent director and chair of the board’s management succession committee, said Tuesday: “In Mark and John, we have two exceptional leaders. With Mark’s leadership, Nike’s revenue tripled, and Nike became one of the most iconic and innovative brands in the world. John has a proven track record as a highly successful three-time CEO and, like Mark, leads with integrity and loves Nike and the world of sport. I know them both well and I could not be more excited they will work together to lead Nike’s next chapter.”