Why CEOs aren’t stepping down

A growing number of CEOs are trying to hold onto their management caps for a few years longer. And it’s probably not just because they’re smashing salary records as of late.  

Driving the news: Whitney Wolfe Herd officially stepped down as the chief executive of Bumble, a women-centred dating app worth over $2 billion, after nearly a decade in the role. She’ll be replaced by Lidiane Jones, the former head of the workplace platform Slack.  

Yes, but: Herd isn’t going too far. Instead, she’ll become executive chair, a fuzzy role that can be filled by CEOs who are overseeing a leadership transition — without being involved in the day-to-day grunt work — or founders who still want to retain control of their company. 

  • According to The Globe and MailCanadian firms like energy giant Cenovus, law firm Bennett Jones, and meat producer Maple Leaf Foods, all have executive chairs.

  • Household names like Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt have also chosen to take the option. 

Why it matters: It’s part of a larger trend that’s changing succession plans — and even reversing some, in the case of Telus and Waste Connections — from privately owned firms to publicly traded companies that might snowball into more CEOs holding on, and for longer.  

  • “Our partnership is truly 1+1=3,” Herd wrote in a LinkedIn post announcing the transition yesterday, which sure sounds to us like she’ll be sticking around. 

Big picture: In some instances, former CEOs can offer institutional knowledge, mentorship, and industry relationships. In others, they can end up confusing investors, cramping the style of a new leader, and costing millions in executive pay. —SB