Nike Co-Founder Steps Down As Chairman In 2016

Nike Co-Founder Steps Down As Chairman In 2016
Nike ACC Mercurial Vapor Vernon Chan / FlickrCC BY 2.0

At age 77, Phil Knight, one of the founders behind successful sports brand Nike, has decided to step down as chairman come 2016 as stated in Nike’s press statement. According to a report in Quartz, Phil Knight had founded Nike with Bill Bowerman a little over 50 years ago. Bowerman had passed away due in a retirement home in Fossil, Oregon back in 1999 according to New York Times report. Bowerman was 88.


In 1962, Phil Knight wrote a marketing paper entitled, “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?” This reportedly served as a guidebook for what will become Nike’s very own manufacturing strategy. However, Knight and Bowerman did not create a shoe manufacturing company in the beginning.

In fact, they first formed Blue Ribbon Sports back in 1964. It actually distributed a brand of Japanese sneakers known as Onitsuka. It was only in 1971 when the two decided to stop distributing Onitsuka and form Nike. And in 1972, Nike starts using its famous “swoosh” logo after paying $35 for it. Things started to take off from there. 1984 saw Nike signing in Michael Jordan who was still an NBA rookie back then. They enjoyed continued immense success and in 1988, it debuted its “Just do it” slogan.

This year, the New York Times reports that Nike has been named the most valuable apparel brand during the tenth annual Brandz Most Valuable Global Brands done by Millward Brown, an advertising company. Moreover, Forbes reported that Nike has just cemented an 8-year deal with the NBA. This means that the brand will become the provider for licensed apparel not just for the NBA, but for WNBA and NBADL as well. The deal is said to start during the 2017-18 season. Furthermore, it is reportedly worth $125 million a year. Moreover, Forbes has found that about 75% of the NBA players actually wear Nike or Jordan shoes. In addition, Nike dominates in the U.S. basketball footwear market, having a retail market share of about 90%.

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Also, the deal with the NBA also makes a lot of sense for Nike as it is also reportedly the largest sports brand in China. Meanwhile, China happens to be the 2nd most significant market to the NBA.

As Phil Knight prepares to step down, it is no secret that he has already submitted his recommendation to the Nike Board of Directors for the appointment of NIKE’s next chairman. If it were up to him, it would be none other than Mark Parker who has been Nike’s President and Chief Executive Officer since 2006.

According to Knight, “I have long felt a great responsibility to provide clarity and certainty for the long-term governance and leadership of Nike and for my ultimate transition as Chairman. I have worked closely with the Nike Board in developing this plan and in identifying the most qualified person to serve as my successor in this role. I believe Mark is the best choice to succeed me. He has been an outstanding CEO for the past nine years, and has demonstrated time and again his love for this Company and his clear vision for capturing the tremendous potential Nike has to innovate, inspire, and drive growth. For myself, I intend to continue to work with Nike and look forward to contributing to its future well after my chairmanship ends.”

In response, Parker says, “Phil founded Nike to serve athletes.

“That vision and inspiration continues to drive our success today around the world. I have been privileged to work with Phil for over 35 years, and Nike’s exceptional management team and I are committed to building on Phil’s vision to drive the next era of growth for Nike.”