Barnes & Noble has a new CEO: Michael Huseby, who was most recently running the company’s Nook digital media division in the wake of the departure of CEO William Lynch in July 2013 but joined the company in 2012 as chief financial officer.
Lynch, who left the company after three years, oversaw the launch of the Nook e-reader and ebook business. It’s widely thought that the failure of this business to become profitable despite gaining significant ebook retail market share in the U.S. in 2011 and 2012 is what eventually imperiled his job.
Following Lynch’s departure, a new CEO wasn’t named. Huseby was appointed head of Nook Media; Mitchell Klipper was made head of the company’s chain of U.S. retail bookstores; and Max Roberts was put in charge of the company’s college bookstore chain. The leadership all reported to chairman Len Riggio and the board, which effectively led the company over the past six months.
But why Huseby?
While the company has not
yet responded to my request for comment answered my questions about a new strategic direction in the wake of Huseby’s appointment, the announcement of his promotion might offer some clues. Huseby has deep financial experience, holding CFO positions at Barnes & Noble and Cablevision. He was also a partner at Arthur Anderson for 23 years. The company spells out what he can do in its press release:
Mr. Huseby’s broad range of experience includes extensive capital markets transactions; M&A/corporate development; comprehensive operational responsibilities including new product development and roll out; business process improvement; cost management; capital allocation; governance and extensive public company board experience; SEC accounting/reporting; tax planning/compliance and investor relations.
Here are some possible of select bits:
– “capital markets transactions”: Raise money for Barnes & Noble, which is profitable overall but has a digital division that is hemorrhaging cash.
– “cost management”: Continue to optimize Barnes & Noble’s operations. Over the past year, the Nook division has cut costs significantly, trimming losses even as revenues have declined.
– “SEC accounting/reporting; tax planning/compliance and investor relations”: Help get Barnes & Noble out of hot water when it comes to a current Securities and Exchange Commission investigation due to possible financial reporting improprieties and several investor lawsuits.
When asked about what Huseby’s appointment might signal in terms of strategic direction, a spokesperson for the company said, “I can’t comment on that. We have nothing to announce other than Mike’s appointment.”