Special Report

The Best and Worst CEOs of 2018

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

6. Elon Musk
> Company: Tesla
> Tenure: Oct. 2008 – present
> Annual compensation: $49,920
> YTD stock price change: +16.0% (NASDAQ: TSLA)

In 2018, Elon Musk was involved in a string of public relations incidents that likely reduced investor confidence in Tesla and led to the company’s worst week on Wall Street in several years. Musk drew public ire in July 2018, when he suggested in a tweet that a rescue diver working to save a youth soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand was a pedophile after the diver criticized Musk’s own plans to design a submarine to rescue the children as a public relation stunt. As the media questioned the Tesla CEO’s mental state, Musk provoked board members further when in August he suggested in another tweet he would take Tesla private at $420 a share.

Musk shared information about his personal struggles and erratic behavior in a New York Times interview later than month and in a podcast appearance in September in which he was filmed smoking pot, raising further questions about his growing instability among the media and investors.

Source: Barnes & Nobles

7. Demos Parneros
> Company: Barnes & Noble
> Tenure: May 2017 – July 2018
> Annual compensation: $5.8 million
> YTD stock price change: +4.8% (NYSE: BKS)

Demos Parneros term as CEO of Barnes & Noble was short-lived, from May 2017 to July 2018, when he was fired without severance pay for violating company policy. In response to his firing, Parneros filed a lawsuit against Barnes & Noble, charging the company with defamation and breach of contract. In October, the bookselling company released details of the firing in a court filing, which alleged that Parneros sexually harassed a female employee, bullied staff members, and failed to close a deal to sell the company.

Source: YouTube

8. Laurent Potdevin
> Company: Lululemon Athletica
> Tenure: Jan. 2014 – Feb. 2018
> Annual compensation: $5.1 million
> YTD stock price change: +70.4% (NASDAQ: LULU)

Laurent Potdevin resigned from his position as CEO of Lululemon Athletica in February after the company said he did not meet the company’s “standards of conduct.” He also resigned from the company’s board. Reports later emerged that Potdevin had an inappropriate relationship with a designer at the company.

Some employees came forward and and said that they believed the designer received preferential treatment. This included extended vacations, first-class accommodations paid for by the company, and an outsized amount of power within Lululemon’s operations. Other employees complained about a toxic work culture, saying Potdevin turned the executive team into a “boy’s club.”

Source: Michael Hickey / Getty Images

9. John Schnatter
> Company: Papa John’s Pizza
> Tenure: 1984 – Jan. 2018
> Annual compensation: $2.8 million
> YTD stock price change: -18.0% (NASDAQ: PZZA)

After a disappointing third quarter 2017 earnings report, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter blamed much of the company’s struggles on the way the NFL, its close advertising partner, handled the national anthem protest controversy. Papa John’s shares plummeted 11% in less than a day following the remarks, and Schnatter was ousted as CEO. In May 2018, Schnatter used a racial slur on a company conference call. He resigned as chairman and the face of the company shortly after the comments were publicized. Schnatter has continued to be a problem for the company, suing the board over his removal. Papa John’s shares sit more than 22% below where they were a year ago.

Source: Paul Zimmerman / Getty Images

10. Craig B. Thompson
> Company: Memorial Sloan Kettering
> Tenure: Nov. 2010 – present
> Annual compensation: $2.9 million
> YTD stock price change: N/A

Craig Thompson serves as the CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, one of the world’s leading cancer treatment centers. Under Thompson’s watch, Dr. Jose Baselga stepped down as chief medical officer for failing to disclose millions of dollars of payments from drug makers and health care companies.

The conflicts of interest appear to have reached all the way to the top, as Thompson himself served on the board of large pharmaceutical company Merck, receiving as much as $300,000 from the company in 2017 alone. Though Thompson still holds the top job at Sloan Kettering, he has since stepped down from two corporate boards, including Merck.