September 9, 2023

Flexport board fired CEO Clark, sources say


Flexport’s board dismissed CEO Dave Clark, two sources familiar with the decision told FreightWaves. Clark, who joined the buzzy freight forwarder last September, agreed to resign from his post. 

The former top Amazon executive announced on Wednesday that he was leaving Flexport. Founder Ryan Petersen will resume the role of CEO, Flexport said on Wednesday. 

Clark, Flexport and Petersen declined to comment.

“Founders have the right to change their mind,” Clark wrote in a memo announcing his departure. “I came to Flexport to do big things and that’s where I believe we were headed.”

Clark joined Flexport last year to help transform the freight forwarder into an end-to-end logistics provider. However, as Clark told FreightWaves Wednesday, Petersen wants to revert the company’s strategy to its “core” of global trade. 

In the Wednesday interview, Clark did not confirm or deny that he is exploring a run for governor, as The Wall Street Journal reported. However, he told FreightWaves he’s “always loved dabbling in politics” and that he’s “come to embrace that in Texas,” where he moved in 2021 from Washington state.

Petersen says Flexport must ‘return to profitability’ in the near term

Flexport, valued in 2022 at $8 billion, has struggled amid the global slowdown in freight volumes. Flexport laid off about 20% of its staff, or 700 workers, in January.  

Still, the company has added a slew of services and big hires in the last year. They aligned with Clark’s objective to transform Flexport into a full-service logistics provider. Clark was a key shepherd in making Amazon a logistics behemoth during his 23 years at the company. Clark announced his resignation from Amazon in June 2022.  

In June of this year, Flexport acquired Shopify’s logistics arm, adding e-commerce fulfillment and last-mile delivery capabilities to its suite. During Clark’s tenure, Flexport also hired several key ex-Amazon people, including its chief commercial officer and senior vice president of operations and the leadership for its new truck brokerage.

In a memo posted on X on Wednesday, Petersen alluded to a need to rein in spending amid the larger downturn in freight volumes. He said the company is no longer profitable but did not clarify when or how that happened.

“However, it’s clear that important changes are needed to sustain our growth and return to profitability,” Petersen wrote. “Flexport sits at a crossroad where the choice is either to spend our way out of the current downturn in global logistics or pursue a path that gets us back to profitability quickly. The board and I agree that operational excellence and profitability in the near-term is the right path.”

Flexport has more than $1 billion in net cash and “a multi-billion dollar book of business,” Petersen wrote. The company generated $3.3 billion of gross revenue in 2021, the most recent figures available.

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