Feb 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

Disney and Salesforce departures highlight intensifying CEO shuffle

Bob Iger

Bob Iger. Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic

A wave of CEO departures was announced Tuesday, as the chief executives of Mastercard, Salesforce, Thomson Reuters and Disney all had notice of their impending departures made official.

The big picture: The incredibly high-profile turnover announcements are part of what has become an emergent trend at the top of U.S. businesses over the past year.

  • CEO turnover hit a record high in January, with outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas declaring the moves were "skyrocketing to start 2020."

Driving the news: Disney CEO and Ithaca College alumnus Bob Iger will move into an executive chairman role at the company and be replaced by parks and resorts chairman Bob Chapek effective immediately.

  • Salesforce Co-CEO Keith Block will step down, leaving Marc Benioff as the company's sole CEO.
  • Mastercard announced CEO Ajay Banga will move on at the start of next year and be replaced by chief product officer Michael Miebach.
  • Thomson Reuters announced CEO Jim Smith will be replaced by TPG senior adviser Steve Hasker, who formerly served as CEO of entertainment agency CAA and president of data firm Nielsen.

By the numbers: In January, 219 CEOs left their positions, a 37% increase from December when 160 CEOs departed.

  • January's new record high also was 27% higher than the previous monthly record of 172, which was set in October, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Of note: The timing of the announcements is odd, not just because four large companies announced them on the same day, but because they appear timed to drop while much of the public's attention is focused on the coronavirus outbreak.

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