You don’t get to be a CEO by accident, especially if you’re a woman. When you lose that job, it’s not credible to pretend that you didn’t really want it that bad, anyway. Or so it seems to me. To wit:
This last March, Fortune writer Emma Hinchliffe profiled Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg, who’d been promoted to the big job late last September. Nyborg, wrote Hinchliffe, “seems to have sprung fully formed from the brain of the company’s brand marketing team. The 36-year-old is the ultimate testament to Tinder’s ability to create healthy, long-term relationships: She met her husband on the app six years ago, and still describes herself as a ‘happy customer.’ She’s also a female CEO—the first in Tinder’s history—who made it her first order of business to dig into the experiences women and LGBTQ people were having on the app.”
Which got me to thinking, at the time: the executive communication professionals I serve are weary from teaching all technologists, engineers, finance folks and MBA drones how to be communicators. Squeezing their “origin stories” out of them, like water out of stones. Convincing them of basic shit like the need to repeat messages more than once. Getting them to accept communication coaching, and spend time rehearsing speeches.
What if the company did hire a CEO based on her or his actual origin story, based on his or her innate understanding of how communication works, based on his or her complete willingness to give everything over to communication—because communication, of course, is really most of a modern CEO’s job, is it not?!
So I took the graph at top and put in in a file, about which I’ve been meaning to write a column for a couple of months.
Then last week Nyborg was fired, after only 10 months on the job. Why?
“Our goal is to inspire our brands to optimize everything we do and build the best teams internally to deliver the finest services externally,” said Bernard Kim, CEO of the parent company Match Group, according to CNN. Kim, who will serve as interim CEO of Tinder, said Tinder has fallen short in key performance measures.
Now that guy sounds like the sort of CEO communicator we’re used to, issuing opaque corporate blather, in the wake of a high-level firing!
Meanwhile, Nyborg, whose résumé includes a two-and-a-half-year stint at Edelman Public Relations about a decade ago, wrote this on LinkedIn (and it was quoted in news stories):
This is my last day at Tinder. I have loved every moment of the last 2 years, working with an I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E team on the magic of human connection. I have seen Tinder blossom from The Swipe®, to an iconic brand and $1.7+ Billion business. I’m proud of elevating Women’s Experience, International, and Safety & Inclusion as company / growth priorities. I am enormously proud of Tinder’s culture: recently winning awards for Innovation, Leadership, Diversity and Career Growth. It’s been so special to work on a product that literally changes lives, and there are many other problems I’m excited to work on. But first…. My first true break in 16 years, starting with a few weeks in nature with my very own Tinder match <3 #swiperight
What kind of shit is this? Nyborg got hired as the personification of the company, she happily allowed herself to be portrayed as a pioneering woman CEO and then she got coldly shitcanned by a dude who didn’t even bother to explain how he or her successor would seek to improve on what she’d done.
I understand, she probably signed a severance agreement forbidding her from bellyaching about the treatment she received. But did that document further demand that she go out cheering the company that ousted her?
“If you are being run out of town,” said Sally Stanford, “get in front of the crowd and make it look like a parade.”
I get the logic. But this looks like a pretty sorry parade to me.
Do you agree?