The great CEO exodus of 2020

February 26, 2020, 2:27 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 25 should be officially named “The Day of the CEO Departure.” 

First, the abrupt departure of Disney CEO Bob Iger shocked the business world.

On Tuesday, the long-time chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Co. announced he is stepping down after 15 years at the helm, effective immediately. Bob Chapek, whose last position was heading up Disney’s parks, experiences, and products division, will succeed Iger in the top job. Iger will stay on as chairman of the board until his contract expires at the end of 2021.

As my colleague Michal Lev-Ram put it, “Bob Iger’s departure was such a long time coming that it feels like it came out of nowhere.”

Next to announce his leave was Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block. Block became Salesforce’s co-CEO in 2018, with the hopes to let longtime CEO Marc Benioff focus on strategy and culture while Block took on more of an operational role. But it looks like the dual CEO roles didn’t quite pan out.

During a call with analysts on Tuesday, Block said, “It’s a tremendous accomplishment, but I’m ready to start a new chapter.” Cryptic.

News of Block’s departure overshadowed a massive deal between Salesforce and Vlocity. Salesforce will acquire the cloud and mobile software provider for approximately $1.33 billion. Vlocity had raised approximately $162 million in venture funding from investors including Salesforce Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, and TDF Ventures.

And finally, Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, who has helmed the company for a decade, will step down at the end of the year and remain executive chairman. As Fortune’s Alan Murray wrote this morning: “Banga looms large in my book for his passionate advocacy of financial inclusion around the world.” The company has some 1,500 financial inclusion projects in 80 countries touching 500 million people. 

…. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: The head of Uber’s food delivery service unexpectedly stepped down Tuesday too, after serving the unit since its inception. Jason Droege, the vice president of Uber Everything since March 2014, was part of the UberEats business since 2015. Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s vice president of international rides, will replace him, effective immediately. 

“The move comes as Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi clamps down on the company’s finances on a new expedited timeline,” my colleague Danielle Abril reports. “The company, which lost $8.5 billion in 2019, says it plans to be profitable, minus a number of major expenses, by the end of the year … While Uber Eats is one of the company’s fastest-growing units, generating $734 million in revenue last year, it’s also one of the company’s largest expenses.”

Polina Marinova
Twitter: @polina_marinova


- Graphcore, a U.K.-based hardware systems company, raised $150 million in funding. Investors include Baillie Gifford, Mayfair Equity Partners, M&G Investments, and Merian Chrysalis.

- Plume, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based home networking specialist, raised $85 million in Series D funding, including debt. Investors include Charter Communications, Qualcomm Ventures, Belkin, Service Electric Cablevision, Liberty Global and Shaw Communications.

- HeadSpin, a Mountain View, Calif.-based developer of a mobile application testing platform for developers, raised $60 million in Series C funding at a valuation of $1.16 billion. Dell Technologies Capital and ICONIQ Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Tiger Global Management, Kearny Jackson, and Alpha Square Group. 

- Unqork, a New York-based no-code application platform for the enterprise, raised $131 million in Series B funding. Investors include Goldman Sachs, Aquiline Technology Growth and World Innovation Lab (WiL).

- Digital River, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based provider of end-to-end cloud-commerce, payments, and marketing solutions, raised $50 million in funding. Siris Capital Group led the round.

- Minute Media, a London-based technology and digital publishing platform, raised $40 million in funding. Dawn Capital led the round. 

- FogHorn, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based developer of an Internet of Things application platform for remote monitoring and diagnostics, raised $25 million in Series C funding. LS Corp led the round, and was joined by investors including Dell Technologies Capital, Intel Capital, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, Honeywell Ventures, GE Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, March Capital Partners and Darling Ventures. 

- Ready Robotics, a Columbus, Ohio-based provider of robotic automation software, raised $23 million in Series B funding. Canaan led the round, and was joined by investors including RRE Ventures, Eniac Ventures, Emerald Development Managers, Drive Capital, Micron Ventures and Greenhawk Capital. 

- LinkSquares, a Boston-based provider of an AI-powered SaaS contract management and analysis tool, raised $14.5 million in Series A funding. Jump Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including First Ascent Ventures and existing investors MassMutual Ventures and Hyperplane Venture Capital.

- Hasura, a San Francisco and Bangalore-based company providing data access and data flow tools and services via GraphQL APIs, raised $9.9 million in Series A funding. Vertex Ventures US led the round, and was joined by investors including SAP.iO Fund, Nexus Venture Partners and Strive VC.

- OneRail, an Orlando, Fla.-based final mile orchestration and fulfillment platform, raised $5.8 million in seed funding. Las Olas Venture Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Chicago Ventures and Alpine Meridian Ventures.

- Stonly, a France-based platform for interactive help content, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Accel led the round.


- Water Street Healthcare Partners agreed to invest in Solvias AG, a Switzerland-based pharmaceutical lab platform. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Race Winning Brands, a portfolio company of Kinderhook Industries, acquired Manley Performance Products, a manufacturer of high-performance pistons, connecting rods, crankshafts, and valvetrain components. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- BV Investment Partners made a significant minority investment in TopBloc, a Chicago-based Workday services partner.


- Radian Group Inc. (NYSE: RDN) made a strategic investment in Covered Insurance Solutions, an independent digital insurance agency whose technology enables homebuyers to compare and purchase homeowners insurance. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- acquired ProcessOut, a New York-based technology company that monitors and analyzes payments. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- GFL Environmental Holdings, an Ontario, Canada-based waste management firm, says it plans to raise $1.5 billion at the midpoint of an offering of 73.2 million shares (2% insider) priced between $20 to $21. Before relaunching the IPO, it said it would raise up to $2.4 billion in an IPO of 87.6 million shares priced at a range of $20 to $24 apiece. The firm posted $3.3 billion in revenue for 2019 and loss of $451.6 million. BC Partners, Ontario Teachers, and GIC back the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE and TSX as “GFL.” Read more.

- UiPath, a robotic process automation maker valued last year at $7 billion, may IPO as soon as next year. Read more.


- Mondelez International Inc. will buy Give & Go Prepared Foods Corp, a Canada-based owner of a two-bite brownies brand, from Thomas H. Lee Partners. Mondelez is paying $1.2 billion to buy the company, according to Bloomberg. Read more.

- Snow Phipps Group sold Kele, Inc, a Memphis, Tenn.-based distributor of peripheral products used in commercial building automation systems, to The Stephens Group. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Equistone Partners Europe agreed to buy Accès Industrie, a France-based company that offers load handling and lifting equipment, electric and diesel scissors, from Parquest Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- Corsair Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, raised $1 billion for its latest private equity fund. 

- Mainsail Partners, a San Francisco-based growth equity firm, raised $500 million for its fifth fund, Mainsail Partners V, L.P.


- Corey Gutshall joined Verizon Ventures as a principal.

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