Barnes and Noble CEO Gets Fired

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The Barnes and Noble board isn't giving any details about why CEO Demos Parneros was terminated. In a brief press release, the company cited "violations of the Company’s policies" and stated that the decision wasn't based on "any disagreement with the Company regarding its financial reporting, policies or practices or any potential fraud relating thereto."

However, the CEO's termination will result in a loss of severance pay, and he will no longer serve on the company board. Parneros joined Barnes and Noble in 2016 and accepted the chief position just a year ago. Given his short tenure with the company, the consequences seem reasonable.

Perhaps unusually, the statement emphasizes legal counsel:

This action was taken by the Company’s Board of Directors who were advised by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. 

To me, this sounds unnecessary and defensive: of course a company would receive legal counsel in such a situation.

Cover image source.

Parneros image source.


  • Why would the board of directors not say more about why Parneros was fired? Should they?
  • What are the downsides of failing to reveal the reason for the termination?
  • What are your thoughts about the statement, particularly the reference to legal counsel? Why would the board include this? Could it be self-promotional for the law firm?
  • Which leadership character dimensions are illustrated by this situation? Which may be lacking?