Expedia CEO, CFO Resign After Disagreement with Board

Chairman Barry Diller said senior management and the board disagreed on strategy.
Lauren MuskettDecember 4, 2019

Expedia’s chief executive officer Mark Okerstrom and chief financial officer Alan Pickerill resigned from the company, effective immediately.

“Ultimately, senior management and the board disagreed on strategy,” chairman Barry Diller said in a statement.

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Diller and vice chairman Peter Kern will oversee the company’s executive leadership team and manage day-to-day operations while the board determines a long-term leadership plan for the company.

Eric Hart, the company’s chief strategy officer, will serve as acting finance chief. Pickerell had been at Expedia for 11 years, serving in investor relations and treasury before becoming CFO in Sept. 2017.

Expedia Chairman Barry Diller

Diller said a reorganization plan pushed by the departing executives earlier this year was sound in concept but lead to a loss of focus, disappointing third-quarter results, and a lackluster near-term outlook.

“The board disagreed with that outlook, as well as the departing leadership’s vision for growth, strongly believing the company can accelerate growth in 2020,” said Diller. “That divergence necessitated a change in management.”

The company also said it was authorizing repurchase of 20 million shares, in addition to nine million available under the current plan. Diller said he would be buying additional shares as a sign of his confidence in the company.

“A wholesale removal and replacement of both CEO and CFO is something that will likely result in an ongoing multi-quarter transition period for the company,” Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson said in a note. “Some of the issues presented in the Q3 results were new, while some were simply amplified; in each case we believe these issues will likely not be remedied immediately.”

The company reported weaker-than-expected earnings November 6, prompting a selloff that sent shares plunging 27% and set off a string of downgrades.

The company’s revenue has been hit as competition from other online booking sites accelerates and its business model has been seen to be at risk from changes to Google search tools.

Shares of the company were up more than 7% Wednesday following the announcement.

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