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Tech CEOs Taking Harder Hit Than Average

Challenger, Gray & Christmas came out with the on CEO departures through May. Interestingly, while the number is lower this year than at the same time last, tech industry CEOs have left in higher number.

Before we get into the tech specifics, take a look at the overall numbers and how they've trended over the last five years:

Note that the pace higher water hit in 2007, a full year before the official declaration of trouble, but a time at which point companies and their boards could see that something was happening. Through May, CEO departures this year were down 16 percent compared to 2008.

Now look at the table below, which represents the most appropriate sector data that adds up to what we commonly refer to as high tech:

When you look at this set of industries, departures were actually up about 5.9 percent over last year. What this means is anyone's guess:

  • It could be that this would be a statistical variation that means virtually nothing.
  • It might be that tech companies are being harsher than those in other industries.
  • The really disturbing thought is that perhaps another shoe will drop in the tech sphere, only most of us won't know until later.
Remember, too, that CEOs leave office for all sorts of reasons: retirement, dismissal, acquisition by another company, and so on. In fact, here's the list that Challenger has of the reasons given for the CEO departures:

Notice, too, that in this list there are a good number of euphemisms for getting canned.