Nike announced today that Phil Knight is stepping down as Chairman of the company. Knight has been with the company since founding it over fifty years ago. According to Street Insider, Phil Knight spoke about the decision:
For me, Nike has always been more than just a company – it has been my life’s passion. Over the years, I’ve spent a great deal of time considering how I might someday evolve my ownership and leadership of Nike in a way that benefits all of our stakeholders. Today, we have taken a number of important steps that will continue to promote Nike’s long-term growth.”
Here are some key things we know so far about the move:
1. Phil Knight Recommended Mark Parker to Take His Position
According to Street Insider, Parker has been Nike’s President and CEO since 2006. Parker is not officially taking over for Knight. There will be a process the board of directors will go through to appoint the successor. An announcement is expected sometime in 2016.
According to The Oregonian, Knight released a statement that included these words about Mark Parker:
I believe Mark is the best choice to succeed me. He has been an outstanding CEO for the past nine years, and has demonstrated time and again his love for this company and his clear vision for capturing the tremendous potential Nike has to innovate, inspire, and drive growth.”
2. Knight Will Still Be Actively Involved in the Company
According to ABC, there is not a specific date set for Phil Knight to hand over the reigns. Knight is 76 years of old and still plans to remain involved in the company once he steps down as Chairman. The specifics of how he will be involved once he steps down have yet to be announced.
3. Phil Founded Nike in 1964
According to Business Insider, the company was originally founded as Blue Ribbon Sports. It distributed a Japanese shoe we know know as Asics. In 1971, the company officially became Nike, Inc. Knight, who was an avid runner, founded the company with Bill Bowerman, a track-and-field coach. Knight originally is from Portland, Oregon and attended the University of Oregon, a school whose athletic department has served as a test lab for Nike products.
The term Nike came from the Greek goddess of victory and was thought of by one of the original employees, Jeff Johnson. It was a Portland State University student who designed the Nike “swoosh” logo. She was paid $35 for her services. She was later awarded a stock that is worth about $640,000.
4. Phil Knight Plans to Transfer Most of His Stocks to Swoosh LLC
According to ABC, the company will start out with a board of directors that includes Phil Knight, Mark Parker, Nike Director Alan Graf, and eBay founder, John Donahoe. Beyond that, specifics of Swoosh LLC have not been released yet.
5. Travis Knight, Phil’s Son, Will Join Nike’s Board of Directors
This move is seen as strange by many experts, according to The Oregonian. Travis is rarely around the Nike Headquarters located in Beaverton, Oregon. He is a filmmaker and has not shown much public interest in taking over his father’s Nike empire.