/CEO departures on pace for a record year

CEO departures on pace for a record year


WeWork CEO Adam Neumann with wife and founding partner Rebekah Neumann.

Chief executives are leaving their posts at a record pace this year.

CEO departures hit a record high for the year this month with 1,160 U.S. based companies announcing CEO exits through September, according to business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. This is the highest year-to-date level since the firm started tracking in 2002.

“Coming off a decade-long expansion, companies that started and developed during this period find themselves needing new leadership to continue to grow,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of the firm.

In the midst of the financial crisis, 2008 was the second-highest year for CEO turnover with 1,132 executives leaving through September, 2.5% lower than the current year-to-date total.

August was the highest month total for CEO exits on record with 159 chief executives leaving.

The primary reason for CEOs leaving is stepping down and retirement, the firm said. Some CEOs go to a new company and a handful leave because of a merger/acquisitions or scandals.

Notable CEOs that left in September were WeWork’s Adam Neumann, Juul CEO Kevin Burns, and eBay president and CEO Devin Wenig.

Tech in trouble

The technology sector announced the second-highest number of CEO changes this year, 159. That number is up 21% from the number of tech CEOs out of the job last year through September.

Challenger attributes some of the turnover to this year’s extreme regulatory scrutiny of technology companies. Many government officials, including presidential 2020 hopeful Elizabeth Warren, have called for the breakup of big tech because of the companies’ alleged anti-competitive practices.

“Others are finding that regulatory uncertainty and new technologies changing how companies do business require leaders who can specifically address these issues,” said Challenger.

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