TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Boomerang CEOs: What Happens When the CEO Comes Back?

Many companies have turned to their former CEOs in times of need, but little was known until now about the implications of this practice.

In the spring of 1985, the board of Apple Computer made the fateful decision to force out cofounder Steve Jobs. Apple struggled over the next decade, losing much of its market share and dominance in the personal computer industry. As it neared collapse in 1996, Jobs returned to retake the reins of the company he had created. Through a series of brilliant changes and innovations, Jobs helped refocus and rebuild Apple, which ultimately became one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world.

Jobs is certainly a unique case - yet, surprisingly, many other large and high-profile companies have turned to former CEOs, often called boomerang CEOs, in times of need. Dell, Enron, Google, Twitter, Snapchat, Best Buy, Starbucks, Yahoo, DuPont, Procter & Gamble, J.C. Penney, Reddit, Bloomberg, Urban Outfitters, and Charles Schwab, among others, all had former CEOs return to lead their organizations. But while boomerang CEOs appear to be prevalent, little was known until now about the implications of this practice.

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