Legacy of Legends: Lessons From Famous C-Level Departees

Business.com / Entrepreneurship / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Here's a short list of big fish who have left their corporate seats and their legacy behind. What lessons can we learn from them?

Sometimes it can be hard to imagine someone leaving a company they’ve made such an impact on.

Take for example, Brent Callinicos, the now-former CFO of Uber. Although he had only been with the company for two years, he helped the fledgling ride-sharing startup solidify itself as a $40 billion company. He established a strong financial organization for the company in over 53 countries, and now they’re set.

But why the sudden departure? According to his farewell note, Callinicos wants to spend more time with his family after years devoted to companies like Microsoft, Google, and Uber. Fair enough.

Here’s a condensed list of other big-wigs who have left their corporate seats for a variety of reasons, and also the legacy they’ve left behind.

Vic Gundotra GoogleImage via Android Authority

Vic Gundotra, Google+ Creator and SVP of Engineering

Vic Gundotra arrived at Google in 2007 and has since left a huge impression on Google products and social media in general. He started Google I/O (Google’s annual software developer-focused conference) and then became responsible for all mobile apps. You social media managers out there can also thank him for starting Google+ and creating another outlet for you to connect with your customers. Why’d he choose to leave a mega-company like Google? He didn’t give a clear reasoning (and Google reps avoided the question) but his goodbye Google+ post says he’s looking “forward to the journey yet to come.

Words of Wisdom: "The subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools," Gundotra wrote when introducing the social media world to the idea of “circles.”

Related Article: Dear Boss, You’re Fired: High Profile Sackings

Udi ManberImage via Search Engine Land

Udi Manber, Vice President of Engineering at YouTube

Udi Manber is another Googler this year to leave the organization touted as the #1 company to work for. After serving as a top executive on the Search team for the past eight years and also leading the YouTube search endeavors, he decided to leave Google to work for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"I had a wonderful nine years at Google and YouTube, but I could not resist the amazing opportunities at NIH. Improving access to medical knowledge can have a big impact. I hope to help," Manber told the Journal. But despite his departure, Manber has left a massive imprint on Google. Upon his arrival in 2006, Google had 46% of the search market. Now that number is at 62%.

Words of Wisdom: “Search has always been about people. It's not an abstract thing. It's not a formula. It's about getting people what they need. The art of ranking is one of taking lots of signals and putting them together. Signals from your friends are better signals, stronger signals. On the other hand, many searches are long-tail kinds of searches.” – Manber in a previous interview

Denise F. WarrenImage via gamesindustry.biz

Denise F. Warren, Executive Vice President of Digital New York Times

After a whopping 26 years with the New York Times, because the company decided to split her position into two separates positions: executive vice president for digital and executive vice president for marketing. But rather than taking one or the other, Ms. Warren chose to leave the publisher altogether.

During her tenure she was recognized for establishing “one of the first truly multiplatform publisher sales forces in advertising” and helped build the NYT pay model, according to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the Times Company. She also held various positions throughout the company, including chief advertising officer and NYT general manager. As the newspaper business began shifting, Warren helped steer the NYT in the right direction.

Words of wisdom: “The media industry has been in the midst of an ongoing dramatic evolution. The New York Times responded by transforming our organization to ensure that we continue to be a global leader in online publishing. One particularly significant change made several years ago was integrating our print and online newsrooms. This enables NYTimes.com to tap into the incredible resources available in the print newsroom while infusing our online journalism with cutting-edge technology. Creative developers work side by side with journalists and editors to produce some of the most innovative multimedia content on the Web.”- Warren, in response to an online question regarding the impact the Internet has on the demise of news publications.

Related Article: Dear BDC: How Do I Fire Someone?

Don Thompson McDonald'sImage via Chicago Mag

Don Thompson, CEO of McDonalds

As of March 1 and after 25 years with the fast-food chain, Don Thompson is no longer CEO. Unfortunately, the legacy he left on McDonalds isn’t the most positive one. The company stated that the 51-year old would be retiring, but it came at a rather opportune time. “For almost the entirety of Thompson's tenure,” explains Business Insider, “performance at McDonald's restaurants was on the decline.” He did however, become one of the few African-American CEOs to make the Fortune 500 list and has been a source of inspiration to many Americans.

Famous last words: "You got the wrong guy, because I'm not flipping hamburgers for anybody." – Thompson, in response to first receiving a phone call from the McDonalds recruiter.

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