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Walmart e-commerce chief Marc Lore to retire

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Marc Lore is leaving his role as the CEO of Walmart U.S. eCommerce after transforming the retailer’s digital business. Yahoo Finance’s Myles Udland, Julie Hyman and Brian Sozzi discuss.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: All right, welcome back to "Yahoo Finance Live," Myles Udland here on this Friday morning. Let's turn to some breaking news now in the world of retail. That is coming out of Walmart, the company announcing that Marc Lore, the head of its US e-commerce operation, of course, the co-founder of Jet.com, where-- Jet.com purchased by Walmart for $3 billion a couple years ago.

Marc Lore is going to step down from Walmart. Brian Sozzi, certainly some big news considering that Walmart's e-commerce business has done pretty well. I think there was a time when there was some questions about what the Jet.com acquisition was really for.

But if you look at sort of the trajectory of Walmart's e-com business, especially in the last couple of years, even before the pandemic, things had kind of started to work a little bit. So an interesting move here with Lore leaving the company, which, you know, expected at some point. But this is an interesting moment for it.

BRIAN SOZZI: Yeah, let me just point out some quick optics here, Myles. So Marc Lore announced this on Recode. Still haven't seen a press release at a Walmart. This is an interesting way to depart a company like Walmart. I'm sure Walmart will have a statement out soon, I did send them an email. But interesting way to depart.

But I will say this, Walmart just lost the guy that saved the company's e-commerce business. I remember covering this deal when it closed in 2016. It was a huge, huge deal for Walmart, really the first signal in my view that Walmart was very serious about taking on Amazon.

And to your point, Myles, what have we seen from Walmart since this acquisition, which it really amounted tantamount to an acqui-hire because Jet.com is no longer in existence. It is-- they brought a lot of talent in there, a lot of talent that was hungry, wanted to move fast and really wanted to stick it to Amazon. And what we've seen here from Walmart's e-commerce business is really strong, strong sales growth seemingly every quarter since this deal essentially closed.

You've seen them take-- drive a lot of innovation, a lot of focus, expand their e-commerce offerings on site. And I would say a large part of that is because of Marc Lore, who, according to Recode, will be departing Walmart at the end of this month to start up a new business to create the, quote, "city of the future," whatever that is. I'm sure more details will be coming from Lore very soon.

JULIE HYMAN: Hey, Soz, just wanted to give a little precision on this. The company did actually come out with a filing, a very brief filing, that confirms this, that he will indeed be stepping down from the company. Doesn't give a lot more meat on the bone here, but it does say that he's going to continue to serve in a consulting role as a strategic advisor to the company through September of this year.

So again, it's not clear. It doesn't say anything in the release about why he is leaving. But I will say more explicitly what you implied, which is that this is unusual, even just to do this in a filing, because as you and I both know, who have dealt with Walmart, the messaging around this company is very tight and very controlled, which I think is what you were basically saying.

And so, yes, even if it is-- even if there's a filing out, it's unusual that there wouldn't be more around this coming from the company. Also, we don't know who's taking his place, right? The filing doesn't say anything about that, to my knowledge. So that's an important point as well.

BRIAN SOZZI: And that's the thinking, right on, Julie. In Walmart land, everything is structured, carefully messaged. So in a perfect world, yes, you get a press release detailing who his successor is and who are the next three people under him that will help really fill that gap. Because he really-- his shoes are very large of the company.

We have seen some departures at Walmart over the past few years online. But again, this is a business that, right alongside Target, is really on fire right now.

JULIE HYMAN: And this does-- it does say that all of the aspects of e-commerce will continue to report to John Furner, who's executive vice president, president and CEO of Walmart US. But again, there's not a specific replacement for Lore in this release.

MYLES UDLAND: And we should note in that Recode story Lore saying he's leaving to go build the city of the future. So he is clearly not saying, I want to go do a new retail startup. Clearly, he's made his money, done his time, and wants to go on to other things. And also, in these kinds of situations, you get acqui-hired, you get up very high within a company.

I don't think anyone really thought Marc Lore would be the next CEO of Walmart. But certainly, one imagines that it was clear to him that this was the highest position that he was going to hold at Walmart. And so when you get to that level, it's time, often, to move on, especially considering Marc Lore has made more than enough money from his successful ventures to this point.