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Expand chart
Data: Challenger, Gray & Christmas; Note: Data shows announcements of departures among public and private companies with 10 or more employees that have been in business for at least two years; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Companies saw a great deal of CEO transition in 2019 — the highest rate of turnover annually through November since staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas began tracking the data in 2002.

Why it matters: It's a record pace of change for corporate America, with high-profile CEOs exiting because of sagging sales (think Under Armour’s Kevin Plank) or scrutiny over executive behavior (think ex-WeWork CEO Adam Neumann or Overstock's Patrick Byrne).

  • The #MeToo movement has prompted companies to take quicker action for inappropriate conduct, including consensual relationships with subordinate employees. One example: ex-McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook.

Details: Behind charities and nonprofits, the technology sector saw the highest most turnover, with 200 CEO departures (up from 138 last year).

By the numbers: Zeroing in on just publicly traded companies, the number of departures is still high: 284 CEOs have departed — the most since 2011.

  • Just because they've left, it doesn't mean they're out of the company entirely: 527 CEOs who stepped down from publicly traded firms or private companies assumed other roles, such as chair of the board.

Bonus stat: More companies hired CEO replacements from outside of the firm. It's a sign that corporations are seeking fresh perspectives.

  • Of those that immediately announced replacements, a 718 new CEOs took over from other companies, while 545 came from within the firm.
  • This is the first year external replacements passed internal takeovers since 2013, according to Challenger. But even then, the spread between how many came from inside vs. outside wasn't as wide.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.