Former Bain, eBay CEO John Donahoe takes top job at Nike

29 October 2019 3 min. read
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John Donahoe, who has served as a board member at Nike since 2014, has been appointed the firm’s new president and CEO. Donahoe previously was CEO of cloud computing firm ServiceNow, CEO of eBay, and CEO and worldwide managing director of strategy firm Bain & Company. The appointment of the digital-savvy tech executive signals further digital transformation at the Oregon-based sneaker giant.

Donahoe replaces Mark Parker, who has served as CEO for 13 years, on January 13, 2020. Parker will move to the role of executive chairman, focusing on brand and product development. He will lead Nike’s board and will work closely with Donahoe and the senior management team.

“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,” said Parker.

Donahoe has served as president and CEO of ServiceNow since 2017, and has been chairman of the board at PayPal since 2015. He was president and CEO of eBay from 2008-2015, and before that spent three years as president of eBay Marketplaces.

Donahoe started his career at renowned strategy consulting firm Bain & Company, where he spent more than 20 years. He served as the company’s CEO from 1999-2005. He holds an MBA from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Dartmouth College.John Donahoe, CEO at NIKEAnalysts note that Donahoe’s appointment likely signals the sportswear company’s next phase as a digitally enabled consumer platform company.

Parker’s tenure saw notable shifts to the digital sphere for Nike, as it seeks to compete and differentiate itself from competitors Adidas, Puma, and Li-Ning. The company recently opened House of Innovation stores in New York and Shanghai which feature advanced customization and high-tech features such as digital pick-up lockers.

The company also launched Nike Consumer Direct Offense two years ago, which includes the online platform SNKRS app. Donahoe’s expertise in leading digital retail services eBay and PayPal will likely be leveraged to propel Nike’s direct-to-consumer efforts, including the SNKRS app and in-store pickup services.

Though the firm is currently dependent on retail partners for most sales, the balance will inevitably skew more digital in the future, as Nike and other manufacturers/retailers push digital retail to the center of their business models.

Nike is currently in a strong position, having surpassed $1 billion in profits this year and having posted revenues of $10.7 billion in Q1 2020. Chinese sportswear firm Li-Ning, however, has surpassed Nike to become the top sportswear brand on the stock market.

During his 13-year tenure, Parker oversaw the “Dream Crazy” advertising campaign which featured football player Colin Kaepernick and increased the company’s share value by $6 billion, while also snagging an Emmy.

Nike also bore a number recent scandals with Parker at the helm. Reports of toxic workplace behavior in 2018 led to a leadership shakeup, with former president Trevor Edwards and former VP of diversity and inclusion Antoine Andrews leaving the firm.

Earlier this month, the US Anti-Doping Agency banned track coach Alberto Salazar for four years for violating multiple anti-doping rules. Nike shortly thereafter announced the shuttering of its elite Oregon Project track and field program, which was overseen by Salazar.

Parker told CNBC that the doping scandal had nothing to do with him moving on from the CEO role, as the succession plans had already been in motion for months.