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Charted: Why the CEO had to go

Reuters/Dado Ruvic
The cost that can be measured.
This article is more than 2 years old.

Two weeks, 143 million hacked accounts, and more than $4 billion in lost market value later, Equifax CEO Richard Smith is stepping down. “At this critical juncture, I believe it is in the best interests of the company to have new leadership to move the company forward,” Smith said in a statement.

There must be something in the autumn air, because for the past three years big corporate scandals have broken in September. Last year, it was Wells Fargo’s fake-account scam. The year before, Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating shenanigans.

The bosses at the helm of these companies when the bad news broke have all gone: In the scheme of things, Equifax’s Smith lasted about a week longer than VW’s Martin Winterkorn, and didn’t see his company’s share price fall as far before he was pushed. Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf’s lasted more than a month—with a much lighter hit to the bank’s share price.

The damage to the reputations of these companies, however, is much harder to measure.

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