Nike Places All Bets On ServiceNow CEO John Donahoe

Nike board member, former eBay CEO, and current chief executive at enterprise software company ServiceNow, John Donahoe is gearing up to revamp Nike as the sneaker giant’s new CEO.

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The company announced that Mark Parker, who has been CEO at Nike since 2006 will step down, set to be succeeded by a tech executive. So what does John Donahoe have to offer a sports apparel brand?

“Given the rise of importance of digital throughout the business and Donahoe's expertise in enterprise technology and digital innovation (CEO of ServiceNow, eBay, Bain), his announcement as the next CEO (vs. someone with a traditional retail/consumer background), serves to punctuate Nike's transformation from a shoes and shirts company to its next phase as a digitally-enabled consumer platform company rooted in sport, style, and culture,” says Evercore ISI analyst, Omar Saad.

Donahoe’s background in online sales has garnered wide praise from Wall Street.

As Nike invests more in online sales, Needham analyst Rick Patel states the combination of Parker as executive chairman and Donahoe as CEO will be something of a “dream team.”

His experience as a consultant and his support from Parker should also silence anyone critical of Donahoe not having led a branded company before.

"Given the company didn't promote operational leadership from within, we think that Nike intends to put even greater emphasis on its successful Digital efforts to engage consumers directly," Patel added.

While the retail industry has grappled with declining foot traffic and store closures, Nike has focused on apps like SNKRS and the Nike app. While their flagship stores remain open, they’re streamlined to work alongside their apps.

“I am delighted John will join our team,” Parker said in a statement. “His expertise in digital commerce, technology, global strategy and leadership combined with his strong relationship with the brand, make him ideally suited to accelerate our digital transformation and to build on the positive impact of our Consumer Direct Offense.”

As Nike moves forward with partnerships with Apple and analytics and data science teams in their increasingly direct-to-consumer business model, more than ever they need someone with the tech acumen to lead the company. Donahoe is their best bet.