Disney, Facebook, and the Biggest CEO (and C-Suite) Moves of 2022

A number of surprise CEO changes happened this year while Facebook lost a key C-Suite name, and a Domino’s Pizza legend took a new job.

Some CEO changes happen on a slow, planned basis, due to as the current jobholder gets ready to retire. That appears to be what happened at Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) – Get Free Report where longtime leader Richard Fain stepped aside in January after 33 years in the role in favor of former CFO Jason Liberty.

That’s a model of stability that looks very different from the late-night change Walt Disney Co.  (DIS) – Get Free Report made, or the mysterious circumstances that led to Kevin Johnson resigning from Starbucks to be replaced by former CEO Howard Schultz on an interim basis. Those moves reek of intrigue and almost certainly involve reasons that the general public will never fully know.

And, of course, some C-suite moves don’t involve the chief executive of a company leaving. The past year included one massive CEO change due to a company being purchased, while Meta Platforms (META) – Get Free Report, the former Facebook, and Restaurant Brands International (QSR) – Get Free Report (owner of Burger King and Popeyes) saw a key leader depart and a huge name come onboard, respectively.

KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty/TheStreet

Bob Iger Returns to Walt Disney

Bob Iger never wanted to leave Disney and the Disney board never seemed fully comfortable with his replacement, Bob Chapek. Despite that, the board gave Chapek a contract extension that was expected to keep him at the Mouse House for the long term. Just a few weeks after that, however, Disney made a late-night change that saw Iger return to the post on a two-year contract.

In many ways, this change was inevitable as long as Iger was available. Chapek made major changes at the company that took power away from its creative leaders and he also made some major public mistakes, like how he handled a tiff with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Those were minor growing pains, but pretty much any mistake was going to be the impetus for change if Iger was willing to come back. He clearly was, and Disney now has the CEO it always should have had, at least for the next two years.      

Sheryl Sandberg Leaves Facebook (Meta)

When Meta Platforms Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg announced her departure from the company in May, the Facebook parent lost CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s right hand as well as its No.2 executive–who was responsible for ramping up the social media giant’s advertising platforming after her arrival in 2008 and making Facebook an extremely profitable company for many years. Silicon Valley also lost one of its few C-Suite women stalwarts.

Things were not going well for Meta Platforms, however, when Sandberg on May 28 informed the company’s board of directors of her resignation to pursue a focus on philanthropy and women’s issues, as the company’s stock price had fallen 42.3% from $338.54 on Jan. 3 to $195.13 on May 27, 2022. It was only seven months earlier, on Oct. 28, 2021, that Zuckerberg had changed the name of the company from Facebook to Meta Platforms in his pursuit of building the Metaverse, an initiative that reportedly lost $9.4 billion in the first nine months of 2022. 

Patrick Doyle Joins Restaurant Brands International

While Sandberg leaving Facebook had long been rumored as her name often came up when CEO jobs were available, few people (if anyone) had suggested that former Domino’s  (DPZ) – Get Free Report CEO Patrick Doyle would join Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King, Popeye’s, and Tim Horton’s, as its executive chairman.

Doyle made his mark by focusing on execution, convenience, and growing the digital platform at the pizza giant. During his time avoiding the Noid, he delivered 29 consecutive quarters of same-store sale increases, system-wide sales growth of $5.6B to $13 billion, and he increased Domino’s share price over 23 times from nearly $12 in March 2010 to $271 in June 2018.

At RBI, he will be working to help the company accelerate growth.

Howard Schultz Returns (Again) to Starbucks

Howard Schultz came back to run Starbucks  (SBUX) – Get Free Report in March after CEO Kevin Johnson retired. Schultz became interim CEO while the company searched for a permanent successor. It was the second time Schultz returned to the company. He previously served as CEO from 1986 to 2000 and from 2008 to 2017. 

In September the company announced that Laxman Narasimhan would assume the CEO role starting on April 1, 2023. Schultz will continue as interim CEO until then. Narasimhan previously served as CEO of Reckitt, a multinational consumer health, hygiene and nutrition company. Earlier he was global chief commercial officer of PepsiCo. 

Elon Musk Seizes Twitter

Tesla  (TSLA) – Get Free Report CEO Elon Musk appeared to be having an over-the-top moment as he started tweeting about acquiring Twitter  (TWTR) – Get Free Report in April, just a few weeks after saying he would join the board of directors (only to back out five days later). 

By mid-April, he was offering to buy the social media company at $54.20 a share, but by May the deal was on hold as Musk sold off Tesla stock and secured $7 billion in financing to put his money where his mouth was. But the back-and-forth continued to a point where Twitter lost its patience with the billionaire, lodging a lawsuit against Musk to force him to complete the deal, which culminated in late October.

Musk was quick to fire top executives after his takeover, including CEO Parag Agrawal and chief financial officer Ned Segal, soon followed by a mass layoff that left 7,500 people unemployed. He also reinstated former president Donald Trump’s banned account and told remaining employees to work long hours or they’d be fired.

Musk’s takeover has caused both advertisers and users to flee the platform.

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