Fact check: These 11 CEOs stepped down during COVID-19 pandemic

The claim: Nineteen big-name CEOs stepped down during the COVID-19 pandemic

With the world’s eyes on the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic, some fear that other big news stories have slipped between the cracks. A Facebook post claims that amid the COVID-19 media frenzy, 19 big-name CEOs stepped down without the public noticing. The post was shared nearly a thousand times.

The original poster did not respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment and clarification.

More: CEO pay has topped $12.3M. Can it keep rising post-pandemic?

These CEOs stepped down during the pandemic 

Disney

Longtime CEO Bob Iger stepped down as Disney’s CEO, effective immediately, on Feb. 25. Still, he’ll stay on as an executive chairman of the company until the end of 2021. Disney’s new CEO is Bob Chapek, whose last position was chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. 

“We feel that this change gives us the ability to manage the company much more effectively … and enabling me to concentrate on what’s obviously very important,” Iger said on a call with investment analysts Feb. 25, USA TODAY reported.

Hulu

The departure of Hulu’s now-former CEO, Randy Freer, was announced on Jan. 31 by Disney, which purchased the streaming service in 2019. Freer’s exit is part of a major restructuring of the service under Disney, which includes the consolidation of Hulu with its other streaming operations, including Disney and ESPN , according to Forbes

IBM

IBM announced Jan. 30 that Ginni Rometty would step down as the company’s CEO, remaining on its board as executive chair until the end of the year when she intends to retire, according to a press release by the company. Her replacement is Arvind Krishna, who previously ran the company’s cloud computing business, according to the New York Times. The switch took place in April.  

Ginni Rometty
Ginni Rometty

LinkedIn

Jeff Weiner stepped down as CEO of LinkedIn on Feb. 5 after 11 years with the company. He moved into the position of executive chairman within the company. His successor is Ryan Roslansky, former senior vice president of product. Roslansky assumed his position as CEO June 1. 

Salesforce and Vlocity

Keith Block was co-CEO of Salesforce for about a year and a half before he stepped down Feb. 25. The company’s other CEO, Marc Benioff, is staying in that role, according to Business Insider

“It’s been my greatest honor to lead the team with Marc that has more than quadrupled Salesforce from $4 billion of revenue when I joined in 2013 to over $17 billion last year,” Block said in a statement

MGM 

Jim Murren stepped down as MGM’s CEO on Feb. 12, prior to his contract’s end. Bill Hornbuckle, previously the company’s president and chief operating officer, is the company’s acting CEO, the Wall Street Journal reported on March 22.

Volkswagen

It’s partly true that Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess is no longer CEO. While he’s still CEO of Volkswagen Group, he is no longer CEO of the Volkswagen brand as of July 1, CNBC reported. Chief Operating Officer Ralf Brandstaetter now holds that role. 

Mastercard

Mastercard announced Feb. 25 that its CEO, Ajay Banga, will step down at the beginning of next year, according to Reuters. Its new CEO will be Michael Miebach, chief product officer. 

Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works

Les Wexner announced his stepping down as CEO of L Brands, which owns brands including Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, on Feb. 20, after nearly six decades in charge, Business Insider reported. 

Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm, acquired a 55% stake in Victoria’s Secret, and L Brands the rest. Bath & Body Works will be run as a standalone company, according to Business Insider. 

Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson’s now-former CEO, Matt Levatich, resigned Feb. 28 after 26 years at the company, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The motorcycle company’s shares fell 46% since Levatich took charge in May 2015. 

Jochen Zeitz, a board of directors board member, is acting president and CEO, the Journal Sentinel reported. 

Tinder/OK Cupid/Hinge (Match Group)

Mandy Ginsberg stepped down as CEO of Match Group, which owns Tinder, OK Cupid and Hinge, on Jan. 28, citing personal challenges including surgery and destruction of her home by a tornado in October 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal. Former Tinder chief operating officer Shar Dubey took over Ginsberg’s role as CEO in March. 

Other CEOs on list did not step down during pandemic

The other companies on the Facebook post’s list — Microsoft, Uber Eats, Ebay, Nestle, Nissan, T-Mobile, WeWork and JUUL — did not lose their CEOs during the pandemic. Most of these companies did, however, change CEOs in 2019 (before the pandemic) or have notable high-level employees leave during the pandemic. 

Our rating: Partly false

We rate the claim that 19 big-name CEOs stepped down amid the COVID-19 pandemic to be PARTLY FALSE as some aspects were not supported by our research. Eleven of the 19 listed CEOs did step down amid the pandemic. The others stepped down before the pandemic began or didn’t step down at all. Also, it’s misleading to indicate that COVID-19 news led to limited reporting on the departures of the CEOs, as each departure was reported by multiple news outlets. 

Our fact-check sources:  

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: These 11 CEOs stepped down during COVID-19 pandemic

 

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