Dear Boss, You’re Fired: High Profile Firings

  • February 21, 2015

    “I was fired and that’s okay,” Henrique de Castro tells LinkedIn’s Isabelle Roughol, “being fired is part of your career options.” This is an optimistic outlook to have if you’re just getting started in your career. But Mr. de Castro was no fledgling college graduate. He was the Yahoo COO and one of the highest paid executives in Silicon Valley, until CEO Marissa Mayer gave him the boot for not meeting her ad sales goals.

    De Castro’s dismissal isn’t rare. In the past few years, a good chunk of high-profile firings have made headlines. Sometimes we’re all so worried about our own relevance that we forget even the most powerful of business executives are under the same magnifying glass. Here are a few of the biggest sackings as of late:

    Greg Steinhafel, Target ex-CEO

    Mr. Steinhafel was employed by Target for 35 years (and named CEO in 2008), until the company suffered one of the nastiest data breaches in history. The infamous holiday data breach of 2013 compromised the personal information of a whopping 110 million customers. To say the mega-company was hit hard financially would be an understatement, and Mr. Steinhafel was fired just afterwards. But with the $ 15.9 million severance package he’ll be pocketing, he can’t be too shaken up, can he?

    Bryan Stockton, Mattel ex-CEO

    If your company profits fall 59 percent, there’s a good chance you might lose your corner office. At least that’s what happened to Mr. Stockton last month. After serving as chief executive for three years, Mattel’s overall sales have steadily declined. Barbie has been sleeping on the job lately, and Stockton took the blame.

    Ron Johnson, J.C. Penny ex-CEO

    In attempt to turn around stagnant J.C. Penny sales, Mr. Johnson tried to alienate the chain’s core shoppers. It wasn’t intentional, but his idea of nixing coupons and clearances (in exchange for high-end boutique sellers) had an adverse effect. J.C. Penny lost $ 4.3 billion in sales after he implemented his strategy and it continued to worsen throughout the year. Unfortunately his idea was a bust and he got canned.

    Jill Abramson, New York Times ex-executive editor

    According to a study by consulting firm Strategy&, female CEOs are ousted more often than men (38 percent vs. 27 percent). And in May of 2014, Jill Abramson of the New York Times was another ousted statistic. Less than 3 years since being crowned the first female NYT editor, Abramson was fired for reasons not entirely enclosed. Stories of “hard” management style, pushy pay raises and miscommunication float around, which spark concern regarding gender biases, but Abramson insists it had nothing to do with being a woman.

    Dov Charney, American Apparel ex-CEO

    Mr. Charney may or may not have been fired for several reasons. Over the past few years he built a reputation on reportedly “lewd behavior,” and has been involved in a number of lawsuits involving employee harassment. But despite the supposed libidinous acts, Charney was leading the apparel company down a rabbit hole. Illegal employees, falling profits and undue expansion have been hurting the L.A. based company and Charney was found to be the culprit.

    Steve Jobs, Apple ex-CEO

    Yep, even the great Jobs was fired from the company he created (okay, okay, this isn’t recent, but how can we not give an honorable mention to legend himself). Back in 1985, Jobs and John Sculley (former Apple CEO) argued over what to do with the ill-received second-generation Mac. The board decided Jobs wasn’t the best of executives at the time and the man who changed the world as we know it was fired.

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