This week in advanced writing we have been discussing corporate communications and succession plans. Overall, I think the topic is extremely interesting and has made me lean toward corporate public relations as a new aspect of what I want to do in the public relations field. We were asked to choose from a group of companies, which in the last year has had a CEO resignation. I have chosen look at EHarmony.
On January 19th, 2011, according to the Los Angeles Times, CEO Gregory Waldorf, of EHarmony, has resigned. Immediately mentioned in this particular posting as well others the author noted that an interim CEO had been chosen; Greg Steiner,previously known as the president and chief operating officer of EHarmony.
#1 rule: They followed the rules of a succession plan and within six hours of the announcement of resignation, announced a succession of an interim CEO.
This shows stability within the company and that they had in fact already created a plan should this “crisis” ever occur.
*Surprisingly, no professional pictures of Greg Steiner were available in a google search.*
The release of Waldorf’s resignation was very positive and upbeat. They stated he was leaving and then named all of the achievements he had had with the company. Coincidentally, 12 days later he was named CEO-in-residence of Accel Partners. (Tech Crunch)
No attachment after 5 years?!
“As EHarmony begins its second decade, the time is right for me to step down,” Waldorf said in a statement, without providing a reason for leaving.
After this #1 rule had been followed, the ball was dropped. No source of information can be found about how they searched for a new CEO and what steps they took to look for someone who “fit” with the company.
According to the EHarmony Blog, on August 11th, 2011, almost 7 months later, it was announced that Jeremy Verba, previously a general manager for Zynga, the world’s largest social game developer, had been offered the position of CEO of EHarmony. His release is also extremely upbeat and lively; discussing how his social background can boost the online presence that EHarmony has, and how it can reach out to others through more than a computer.
Based on the information given above, no mention of why Waldorf was leaving was given, there was no announcement for a leader search, and no follow up information on the status of the search. They did however formally announce their new CEO almost a half a year later and discuss the upcoming plans they have for EHarmony and how to improve upon its already stellar 29 “points of compatibility”.
“I’m honored to join the eHarmony team and look forward to extending the brand’s commitment to help singles everywhere find successful long-term relationships,” said Jeremy Verba, eHarmony CEO. “Already a strong, trusted brand with considerable momentum, eHarmony is uniquely positioned to continue driving innovation and growth into the next decade.”
Something interesting I noticed in Gregory Waldorf’s resignation articles was the mention that EHarmony would be in trouble until it appoints a new CEO. Without a CEO a company can’t go public. EHarmony would be unable to file for an IPO (Initial Public Stock Offering) until a new CEO was appointed. It’s much more complicated than that though. According to the LA Times article, “It’s not just a matter of getting a new CEO — you need to let the new CEO get seasoned. Investors are always more comfortable if the CEO has been in the chair for a long time.” So the longer they wait, the harder it will be for them to receive interest in an IPO for EHarmony.
EHarmony has no mentions about resignation or appointment of a CEO on any of their networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. For this situation I think it worked not using these sites because there wasn’t that much information for EHarmony disperse, or thats that they wanted to disperse. If the company was much more popular or had a larger following I would think using every platform possible to disperse the message would be necessary. It could also have a negative affect, the more platforms you utilize, the more you open the company to scrutiny from publics and activists.
I feel that EHarmony could have handled this situation much better. Giving information to the publics that use EHarmony as a service could have been extremely beneficial and brought lots of media attention to what EHarmony was trying to achieve.
By following a succession a company can maintain its current reputation and look stable in the eyes of its followers. EHarmony did half the job and only covered their bases with the most important information, rather than informing the public of how they would search for their new “face.” If it were me, I would have tried to stick to the entire plan.
If you not happy with the way EHarmony handled this situation, like the saying goes:
Thanks for reading.
I would love comments and feedback!