Beaverton, Oregon-based athletic giant Nike created a minor shock wave today (October 22, 2019) with the unexpected news that Mark Parker is planning to step down from his role as CEO, a position he’s held since 2006. Parker also held the role of Nike president and board chairman since 2016 and will retain his role as executive chairman.
The 64-year-old Parker first joined the company in 1979 as a footwear designer based at a Nike design facility located in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Former Ebay CEO and the current CEO and president of cloud computing company ServiceNow, John Donahoe, will be appointed as the company’s new CEO and president, effective Jan. 13, 2020. The 59-year-old Donahoe is not a complete outsider to Nike, having held a seat on the board since 2014.
Nike has dealt with quite a bit of controversy over the past several years, including accusations of gender discrimination impacting both female employees and pregnant athletes.
More recently, Parker was caught up in a more direct way with doping accusations that ended with the banning of Nike-sponsored running coach Alberto Salazar by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. According to the NY Times, “Parker and other top Nike officials were briefed on several occasions between 2009 and 2011 regarding medical experiments being conducted to determine the effects of performance-enhancing drugs and how much of the substances could be used by athletes without being detected.”
While it’s possible the doping scandal was the last straw for Nike’s board, Donahoe’s expertise in online sales may simply indicate Nike’s wish to take an even more strident approach to growing its direct sales by installing someone who’s lives and breathes the online space.