Steph Korey, CEO of online luggage startup Away, is stepping down from her executive role.
Korey, who has been under fire over the past week following an article in The Verge about its toxic workplace culture, will become executive chairman of the New York City-based startup. Stuart Haselden, formerly chief operating officer of Lululemon Athletica, will take the reigns as CEO on January 13, while Away cofounder Jen Rubio will remain in her role as president and chief brand officer.
An Away spokesman confirmed the executive changes, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, but declined to make Korey or Rubio available to speak with Forbes.
Forbes profiled Away last year after the company made the cut for the Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. At the time, the fast-growing company had made inroads against Samsonite and its Tumi brand with less-expensive rollerboard suitcases marketed on Instagram (where the company has more than half-a-million followers). Revenue was expected to hit $150 million in 2018, and as the company continued to expand, it hit a valuation of $1.4 billion in May. That made Korey’s and Rubio’s stakes in the business worth an estimated $130 million each.
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The Verge article last week described a harsh workplace culture where employees bore the brunt of passive-aggressive messages on Slack. (Rubio is engaged to Slack founder Stewart Butterfield.) Korey issued an apology, which she posted on Twitter, saying that she was “sincerely sorry for what I said and how I said it. It was wrong, plain and simple.” But the outrage online was tough to quell. On Korey’s own Instagram, where she’d posted a photo announcing her pregnancy (“excited to welcome baby girl Goodwin in May”), commentators were brutal, calling her “trash” among other things.
Away told the Wall Street Journal that the CEO search had been underway since spring.
Haselden worked for Lululemon for five years, during which time he helped the company increase its market cap from $6 billion to nearly $30 billion. Before joining Lululemon, he was chief financial officer of J. Crew.
There are few billion-dollar startups run by women. With Korey’s departure, there will be one fewer.