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Three CEOs Who Reached The Top And Then Spectacularly Fell From Grace

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Being the CEO of a big company isn't straightforward.

It's a demanding and challenging job, which is why most leaders receive such enormous salaries.

Many people have the skills and talent needed to take on the challenge and guide their companies to success.

The huge salaries create huge pressure, which some people thrive under.

Read More: The Sudden And Very Public Failures Of Apparently Unstoppable Businesses

Sometimes CEOs get a bit too big for their boots and preside over disasters that lead to their downfall.


Papa John's CEO John Schnatter 

John Schnatter achieved many successes that most people would dream of having.

It all started when he sold his car to purchase pizza supplies to start up his business.

However, in 2017 he complained during a conference call that the take-a-knee protesters in the NFL were damaging the company's revenues.

Papa John's was the official pizza of the NFL, but due to the remarks he made, the partnership was canceled, and Schnatter stepped down as CEO, but he still stayed chairman.

That was already bad, but it got even worse; in 2018, there was a meeting with its marketing company.

Schnatter stated that KFC's Colonel Sanders used the n-word without any consequences.

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He then began to try and explain that he wasn't racist and said that where he grew up, black people were dragged by trucks until they died.

The ironic thing is that the call aimed to prepare him for challenging media questions about racism.

He later claimed he made the comments to convey his hatred of racism and was quoting someone else

After this second mistake, Schnatter had no choice but to resign as chairman of the board as the company's stock plummeted.

He then fought a legal battle with the company to get a hold of the books and records after they fired him.

The lawsuit was finally settled, and perhaps the company can now put its focus on selling pizza.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

Uber was founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick, who was the exact definition of disruptive.

The company stunned the taxi industry, mainly by establishing its services first and dealing with regulators later.

The aggressive approach is what built Uber into a $71 billion company.

This also led to significant mistakes.

He was accused of presiding over a toxic masculinity at the company which had developed a culture of systemic sexual harassment.

He was accused of ignoring this, and developed a reputation himself for inappropriate behavior.

This was exposed by ex software engineer Susan Fowler, who was booted off the #MeToo movement.

That big mistake is what led to Kalanick's resignation in 2017.

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Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf

John Stumpf held a 34-year-long career at Wells Fargo before becoming CEO in 2007.

At some point down the line, the employees started opening credit card accounts for customers that they didn't know anything about and didn't want.

Then the bank started charging these customers late payment fees on the accounts and overdraft fees after payments were transferred from different accounts.

This continued for many years, with 5,300 Wells Fargo employees involved, leading to ongoing lawsuits when all the fraud was eventually uncovered.

Stumpf eventually resigned in October of 2016 after trying to blame lower-level employees.

The company was fined $100 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, $50 million by the Office of the Comptroller of The Currency and $35 million by the city and county of Los Angeles after opening two million checking and credit card bank accounts without getting its customers' consent.

Stumpf was banned for life from the banking industry in 2020 and given a fine of $17.5 million for his role, as well as an additional civil penalty of $2.5 million.

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