Nike's new CEO is tech exec as D2C push continues

If more evidence was required to prove Nike is continuing with its tech-focused, direct-to-consumer (D2C) drive then yesterday’s (22 October) new CEO appointment provides just that.

The global sports brand and manufacturer announced that its next president and CEO will be John Donahoe, the current boss at cloud computing business, ServiceNow. Based on his background, he will bring a tech mindset to the new role when he takes over from Mark Parker on 13 January 2020.

Parker, who has been Nike CEO since 2006 and chairman, president and CEO since 2016, will become executive chairman of the company and continue to lead the board of directors while working closely with the new look senior management team.

He referenced the “consumer direct offence” Nike has been on over recent years, which has been supported by new digital development and online sales capability, as well as acquisitions in multiple technology companies. He expects that focus to ramp up under Donahoe.

“This is an exciting time for Nike where we see brand strength and momentum throughout the world and great opportunity for future growth,” Parker explained.

“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 and to build on the positive impact of our consumer direct offence.”

Donahoe has held a board position with Nike for the last five years, and he said he was looking forward to “building on Nike’s success and seizing the opportunities ahead”.

The new CEO is also currently chairman of online payments provider PayPal, and he is the former president and CEO of online marketplace eBay. Other previous roles include six years as CEO and worldwide managing director of management consultant firm, Bain & Co.

The change in leadership at Nike comes as the company looks to build new ways to enhance its D2C offering. The Sunday Times reported earlier this month it had seen a letter sent by Nike to dozens of its independent retail partners, which suggested it was starting to end supply contracts and would terminate deals by 2021 due to a change in distribution strategy.