Nike announced on Tuesday that its CEO Mark Parker, who led the company in a period of tremendous growth but challenged its leadership through a series of controversies, would step down early next year.
He will be replaced by John Donahoe, member of the Nike Board of Directors and Managing Director of ServiceNow, a cloud computing company. Previously, he was the CEO of eBay.
Nike announced that on January 13th, Mr. Parker would become the company's chief executive officer, lead the board, and work closely with Mr. Donohoe and the senior management team.
"I am delighted that John will join our team," said Parker in a statement released by the company. "His expertise in digital commerce, technology, global strategy and leadership, as well as his close relationship with the brand make him an ideal partner to drive our digital transformation forward."
The news that Mr. Parker resigned as CEO came when Nike's share price hit a high of over $ 95 on Tuesday. Inventory has almost doubled in the past three years. This reflects Nike's growth in key markets like China and its focus on direct sales to consumers, both online and in-store. Nike's revenue rose 7.5 percent to $ 39.1 billion in the year ending May.
Financial success has been tempered by a number of controversies within the company in recent years.
Emails surfaced in September showing that Mr. Parker knew right away Performance-enhancing drug tests were performed by the company's leading long-distance running coach, Alberto Salazar.
According to emails contained in a decision between the U.S. anti-doping agency and Mr. Salazar, Mr. Parker and other high-ranking Nike officials were informed several times about medical experiments with testosterone, a banned substance, from 2009 to 2011 , The tests, the agency said, were an attempt to determine the effects of testosterone, how much of the substance athletes could use without being detected, and whether an allowable amount of another substance, L-carnitine, was used for the benefit could become an athlete.
The agency suspended Mr. Salazar for four years for violating anti-doping regulations. As head coach of the Nike Oregon Project, a training group at the company's headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, Mr. Salazar has worked with some of the world's best long-distance runners. He denied any wrongdoing.
Mr. Parker and Nike initially assisted Mr. Salazar and committed to fund his appeal against the punishment. However, a week later, Mr. Parker announced that Nike would discontinue the Oregon project and cut official ties with Mr. Salazar, although this would continue to fund his appointment.
Shalane Flanagan, a Nike-sponsored runner who joined the coaching staff of another elite training group at Nike this week, said she was not surprised by the activities mentioned in the agency report on Mr. Salazar, but had not noticed that Mr. Parker knew about it had from what was going on.
"There must be some deeper layers that are above my head," said Ms. Flanagan when Mr. Parker left as the manager.
Several current and former Nike-sponsored runners said this year that they were forced to decide whether to risk financial penalties from the company if they got pregnant. Nike replied from Changes in his policy, no benefit cuts for pregnant women.
In early 2018, a number of women in the organization described the environment at Nike as a toxic boy club. They said their careers were dull, they felt marginalized in meetings, and they had experienced other forms of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
As a result, Nike and Mr. Parker have dropped more than a dozen male and female executives. Those who have left the company are included Trevor Edwards, the president of the Nike brand, who at the time was widely seen as a candidate to replace Mr. Parker.
KeJuan Wilkins, a Nike spokesman, said that Mr. Parker's decision to step down now was "absolutely not" due to the controversy surrounding the Oregon project or any other issue. Rather, he said it was part of a plan with the board that had been in the works for months to appoint a successor.
Nike, considered by many to be an island organization that is difficult for outsiders to navigate, previously looked for leadership skills outside of the company. The results were not reassuring.
End of 2004 William D. PerezThe former boss of S.C. Johnson & Son, manufacturer of Windex and Ziploc bags, has been appointed chief executive. Over the next 13 months, Mr. Perez fought Nike's founder and chairman Philip H. Knight to take control of the company before Mr. Perez abruptly stepped down. Mr. Parker was named his successor.
Mr. Wilkins said Mr. Donohoe's experience and knowledge of the company would enable a smooth transition. He has been on the Nike board of directors since 2014 and works closely with Mr. Parker and other executives as the company expands overseas and online.
Mr. Wilkins said Mr. Donohoe's background on eBay and ServiceNow would be valuable as the company would continue to expand its online offering and sell more products directly to customers.
The announcement of Mr. Parker's upcoming move came on the same day that Under Armor said its founder and CEO, Kevin Plank, no longer monitor day-to-day operations, although he would remain the company's chief executive officer.