In today's world CEOs of major corporations are celebrities. Names like Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook grace the covers of both tabloids and business journals (their stories are sometimes even made into blockbusters-- typically written by Aaron Sorkin). It's easy to get sucked into their cult of personality and forget that they have an actual job to do.
That's partially why Sydney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth professor of management for the Tuck School of business at Dartmouth releases his list of the worst CEOs each year. The list comes out at a particularly pertinent time as American Apparel announces that it has finally ousted controversial CEO and founder Dov Charney.
Related: The Best CEOs of 2014
So which CEOs did the worst job in 2014? Finkelstein joined Yahoo Finance to give some insight into the bottom five.
Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter
Shares of Twitter (TWTR) dropped immensely this year, they're down nearly 45% year to date at press time. Monthly active users are slowing and Finkelstein believes that Twitter is missing the mark on fulfilling its potential as a company. He thinks this is largely because of mistakes that Costello has made. “The problem with Twitter is the Facebook comparison,” says Finkelstein “on almost every level Facebook is just killing them.” Finkelstein believes that monthly users and growth aside, Facebook has a superior management team, including Sheryl Sandberg. Costello has gone through a lot of talent at the top and “some well known people are speaking out against him.”
Eddie Lampert, CEO, Sears Holdings
Sears (SHLD) seems to be a sinking ship, regularly reporting quarterly losses in the hundreds of millions. It seems like the question is not if but when the company will shutter its stores. Stock price is currently down over 20% for the year. Sears could use a turnaround, Lampert even met with former Ford CEO Alan Mullaly for advice on the subject this summer but so far nothing seems to have come of the discussions.
Phillip Clarke, CEO, Tesco
Clarke, the head of British supermarket chain Tesco, was actually fired in late July for his massive mistake of venturing into the U.S. with the "Fresh & Easy" market chain. The idea failed and cost the company $2.7 billion. The real mistake, says Finkelstein was letting Fresh & Easy continue for a year while it was hemorrhaging money.
Dov Charney, CEO, American Apparel
Dov Charney's antics as the CEO of hipster retailer American Apparel (APP) are well known to many. There were various sexual harassment lawsuits brought against Charney and allegations of financial misconduct that led the company’s board to eventually suspend him as CEO and president. The stock is also down more than 80% over the past 5 years essentially rendering the company a penny stock. “The turmoil that Charney was creating may work okay or doesn’t hurt too much when you’re a small, entrepreneurial company and it’s part of the image of the company but at some point it starts to build up,” says Finkelstein. “Don’t forget the revolving door at the top with lots of great talent coming into the company and being pushed out right away,” he adds.
Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva Salgado, CEO, Banco Espírito Santo
Salgado is the head of the second largest bank in Portugal, and he managed to bring it to bankruptcy this year. His bank lost $4.5 billion in the first half of 2014 and had to receive a bailout from Portugal to the tune of $6 billion. Combine this with allegations of fraud and you've got your worst CEO of 2014. "The reason [the bailout] happened was because he had this gigantic family private business,” says Finkelstein. “The family used bank profits to fund growth in dozens of other companies. When the financial crisis hit he didn’t adapt, he kept on borrowing and taking risk. The leverage built up and at some point the house of cards fell down.”
More from Yahoo Finance