Mark Parker, the 13-year CEO of Nike who was in charge of the controversial Colin Kaepernick ad campaign, is officially stepping down next year and will be replaced by a board member and former eBay CEO, John Donahoe.
Donahoe, who has been on Nike’s board since 2014, will be in charge of reinforcing the company’s online strategy, according to Reuters.
Parker said last year that he would continue being CEO and chairman of Nike past 2020.
According to The Blaze, Parker denied that his stepping down was related to scandals that he was associated with.
Parker made some public comments supporting the controversial ad campaign that was seen by many as approving of Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem.
He said in September 2018: “We feel very good and are very proud of the work we’re doing, we’ve seen record engagement with the brand.”
“We know its resonated actually quite strongly with consumers,” he said, “obviously here in North America but also around the world.”
Parker is credited as the creator of the popular Nike Air sneakers, along with other innovative products. He also supervised Nike’s move to sell online directly to buyers and the international market in recent years, especially the Chinese.
Parker will still be the executive chairman of Nike and keep on leading the board after he is replaced as CEO.
“We like that (Donahoe) comes from technology and that he comes from the digital space and we like that he is a strategist and a leader … things that have made Nike positive have been because of those sort of strengths,” Jane Hali & Associates analyst Jessica Ramirez said.
Nike’s digital revenue surged 35 percent in the last fiscal year, with the company expecting online sales to account for about a third of its business by 2023.
Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough said Donahoe’s e-commerce experience could help with Nike’s online push, while Parker could focus more on product development, one of his key strengths.
Last year, the sneaker making company also drew controversy after they canceled a patriotic sneaker designed to celebrate Independence Day because Kaepernick reportedly complained that it features an older version of the American flag which he claimed was “offensive.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, former NFL player Kaepernick complained that the Betsy Ross flag, which features 13 stars in a circle, was created in a period of American history when slavery was widespread.
The canceling of the shoe model, along with Kaepernick’s refusal to remain standing for the national anthem, triggered widespread criticism on the internet.
Reuters and Epoch Times reporter Simon Veazey contributed to this report.