2019 saw more CEOs deposed than most years - and we've got the opportunity to look at examples of the worst leadership, biggest investigations and ugliest breakups through the data each executive's company generated. Every now and again, the arrival of a little new blood at the top proves to be just what the doctor ordered - and Fortune 500 companies enjoy a rebound driven by the installation of a new executive at the top. These are a few examples of companies that need to do just that. 

"I am going to teach you the career skill of accountability"

  • Steph Korey - Away

CEOs should - ostensibly - be teaching accountability in just about every single encounter they're engaged in, or holding others to it. After a Verge report exposed a toxic working environment at luggage unicorn Away ($AWAYTRAVEL), CEO Steph Korey was required to practice what she preached (the quote above). Just days after the investigation came out, Korey announced plans to step down. It's clear her toxic management style was impacting the culture - and it also looks as if, from the data, it was beginning to hamper Away's growth. Once a unicorn on the fast-track to an IPO, job postings at Away plummeted nearly 60% from their September 2019 peak. New leadership could be the breath of fresh air the luggage disruptor needs to get back on track. 

Blue Apron sees social sharing stagnate while stock slumps

  • Brad Dickerson - Blue Apron

Blue Apron ($NYSE:APRN) stock is down about 50% in 2019, as we get ready to close out the year - and April 2019 ouster of ex-CEO Brad Dickerson and arrival of Linda Findley Kozlowski as CEO at least helped to stabilize the stock. Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB) Talking About Count for Blue Apron has slowed down over the years, as our chart above reflects. At least Blue Apron has a solid Apple ($NASDAQ:AAPL) Store rating (not shown) - but at a time when so many other food delivery competitors are arriving in the digital marketplace, it's tough to see how one uncooked meal delivery kit startup can make itself stand out in a landscape where convenience appears to be king. 

Muilenberg canned as Boeing scrambles for answers

  • Dennis Muilenberg - Boeing

Our next example is yet another job postings chart - but this time, it's tracking a decline in listings for completely different reasons. After a pair of 737 crashes that brought safety and testing procedures into question and a series of painful Congressional hearings, Boeing ($NYSE:BA) saw over the first half of 2019 job postings decline a staggering 83% from peak to trough. By the end of the year, Dennis Muilenberg was ousted as CEO, unable to fully account for Boeing's failings, or to provide investors with a satisfactory explanation for when 737s' technical issues would be corrected and they would be again safe to fly. 

WeWork user satisfaction tumbles leading up to - and through - its leadership shakeup

  • Adam Neumann - WeWork

As the wheels came off the WeWork ($WEWORK) S-1 this fall, tiny cracks were evident even before the IPO documentation was made public. Once enough holes had been poked in Adam Neumann's workshare sharing startup's business model, we saw further deterioration of alternative data, like drastic cutbacks to job postings that accompanied layoffs. One of the most damning charts focused not on employment, but on user satisfaction - the chart above tracks WeWork's average rating in the Apple Store, which declined about 18% from 2018 highs to a little over 2.40 earlier this month - a decidedly poor score. 

They must protect their house

  • Kevin Plank - Under Armour

Under Armour ($NYSE:UA) has had a rough year and in early November the company acknowledged an ongoing investigation into its accounting practices. News that substantial has a tendency to slow down C-suite's planning - and it appears to have been signaled in full-time roles posted at Under Armour, which our chart above tracks. From a two-month peak until the days immediately following news of the investigation, job postings for full-time roles at Under Armour plummeted 34%. Less than a month before news of the accounting investigation broke, CEO and founder Kevin Plank announced he would resign. While the stock has rebounded from post-investigation-announcement lows, Under Armour shares still lag behind the pace of broader markets in 2019.

There are plenty of other examples of corporate mismanagement and the data will continue to signal it in the new year. Investors and managers to put alternative data to use sooner can probably get out in front of messes like these, and to mitigate incompetent execs' impact sooner. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: