Will Walmart Suffer as Chief Technology Officer Exits?

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Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) appears to be losing a key executive, but it’s not at the level that has garnered much interest in years past. News came out on Wednesday afternoon in differing reports from CNBC and Reuters that Jeremy King, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Walmart, was leaving the retail giant.

The details behind the departure were not readily available, but King’s last day is March 29, 2019, according to a Reuters report, and May 29 according to the CNBC report. The memo on the CNBC site showed the date as March 29.

What matters here is that Walmart has been in an ongoing war in a changing landscape as the brick-and-mortar retail world deals with online challenges from Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and omnichannel sales platforms from hundreds of specialty and general online competitors. In some ways, this could be one of the most important positions up and down the entire ranks of the retail giant.

King heads up Walmart Labs, which manages customer, merchant and supply chain technology for Walmart. On top of covering all Walmart U.S. stores and e-commerce efforts, it includes a global presence in cloud and data platforms. The biography page for Walmart also indicated that the Walmart Labs charter is to create the world’s leading retail platform to enable the most seamless customer experience.

King has over 20 years of experience in technology platforms around global commerce operations. The bio page indicated that he is an expert on engineering methodology and productivity, developing software as a service (SaaS) technology platforms and presentation layer frameworks.

In early 2019, King was shown to oversee 7,500 employees globally. At that time, the company was planning to hire 2,000 technology experts who are data scientists, engineers and designers.

King joined Walmart back in 2011. He previously worked at eBay as vice president of engineering and software development. King also spent three years at LiveOps as executive vice president of technology, where he helped Fortune 500 companies to migrate their services to the cloud and to adopt secure SaaS platforms. He also was the founding engineering leader for Petopia.com and he ran web technologies for the former Bay Networks.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in information technology from San Jose State University and he is an advisory board member for the CTO Forum.

No indications have been made about where King is heading to or why he was leaving, and the memo suggests the split is amicable.

Walmart’s earnings report in February showed that its ever-important fourth quarter revenues by almost 2% to $138.79 billion, slightly ahead of expectations. Its same-store sales were up 4.2% with store traffic up 0.9%. Where the story was very interesting was that Walmart’s online sales were up a sharp 43% in the quarter and 40% for all of last year.

Walmart shares closed down 1.2% at $98.64, with a 52-week range of $81.78 to $106.21. The consensus price target is $109.07 in the Refinitiv sell-side analyst coverage universe.

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